Archive for November, 2019
“An argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest” (Luke 9:46).
Though this question must have been important to them at the time (for this is a conversation among young men), we come to see in later writings of the disciples that their perspective changed with experience and maturity. After all, when the truly greatest One among you chooses to lay down his life in sacrifice, conversations about any position or power we might hold seem trivial and boorish. Our lives are to be but arguments for Him.
“Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up” (Matthew 13:3-4).
What’s understood, but missing from the front of this story, is the advance work already accomplished upon this parcel of land to prepare it for planting; the ground having been plowed to bring the more fertile soil to the top. It is upon this soil that the seed was intentionally planted or broadcast. That some seeds fell upon the road, others on rocky places, and others among thorns (v.5-7) was incidental and, certainly, not intentional since seed is expensive and should not be wasted. I believe it vividly portrays the reality that there is never a time when we as disciples are not sowing gospel seeds. While intentionally planting in some specific targeted areas, there are others being impacted by the life they see us living; making judgments about the Christian faith and what it means to be Christian based upon our witness.
“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it” (Matthew 13:16-17).
What the prophets and the righteous of old could only anticipate, the coming of the Messiah, you and I have experienced in Christ Jesus. We are the beneficiaries of the fulness of time that has come (Galatians 4:4); when God sent forth his Son. The leading personalities within the Old Testament would consider us the most fortunate (blessed) people in all of human history. I trust you feel the same way. Where there is an awareness of God’s blessings, thanksgiving abounds.
“In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, ‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive’” (Matthew 13:14).
For those who have seen through the emptiness of what this world has to offer, a longing for more opens one’s eyes and ears to the possibilities of fulfillment just waiting to be discovered in Christ Jesus. In scripture, the idea of understanding is so much more than a cognitive exercise. That one understands the desires of God for one’s life isn’t proved out with confessions, explanations, or passing a test but, rather, the embracing and practice of what one confesses to be true.
“For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him” (Matthew 13:12).
The two greatest wastes in life are potential and opportunity. Potential represents our boundless capabilities, while opportunity is dependent upon the intersection of certain conditions and the right combination of circumstances. As followers of Christ, we must have no doubts regarding our God-given potential, while having a keen awareness of the unique opportunity afforded us each day to honor Christ in our lives. No one ever remembers those who had potential, or those who had opportunities to do something that makes a difference but didn’t. They remember those who rise up in defining moments and by their actions and effort make a statement about who they are and what they represent. With privilege comes expectation.
“To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not granted” (Matthew 13:10)
Through Divine revelation the holy Spirit reveals the things of God to those who hunger and thirst for what he offers. Jesus’ statement is not one of exclusion and limited availability, but a testimony to the effusive grace of God that continues to make his mercies known, even in a world that has grown cold and indifferent to his message of redemption, renewal, and restoration.
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there” (Psalm 139:7-8).
A holy people; a royal priesthood; the chosen ones; the elect; the body of Christ—the descriptive terms alone are intimidating. Greater still are the accompanying responsibilities. They are prevailing and pervasive. For those on the outside it may seem burdensome. We on the inside, however, recognize this burden, to be as we are described, as an assurance of the abiding presence of God’s Spirit dwelling within.
“Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples ventured to question Him, ’Who are you?’ knowing that it was the Lord’” (John 21:7, 12).
After such a confident declaration of recognition, why would these disciples have even entertained a question of doubt—“Who are you?” I find it encouraging that faith and doubt are honestly presented and allowed to stand side by side, and not just here but throughout the Gospels. Until the Lord comes, wondering will always be part of our worship.
“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10).
I fear our understanding of salvation is too small in scope. While theological terms such as “justification” and “sanctification” are utilized to capture the work of God having been, and being accomplished in Christ Jesus, my concern is they might limit our appreciation for the scale and grandeur of God’s redemptive purposes. Attempting to better comprehend God, it seems we tend toward the development of theologies that bring God down to our level of understanding. A more accurate pursuit is a theology that allows God to lift our hearts and minds to a place of both mystery and understanding; that transcends our finite minds. My desire is to know the living God; the One who abides outside the lines I would seek to draw and impose upon him.
“And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42).
That one has rightly received God’s proclamation of salvation and the gift of eternal life is best seen in the littlest of things. In a culture like ours, that thinks bigger means better, the gospel of Christ affirms that size does indeed matter…and little things matter most of all. While the ego looks out to the horizon for the opportunity to do something BIG for God, it does so at the expense of all the little opportunities that rest at our feet each day. It’s the continual doing of little things for little people, those having no position and that are unable to respond in kind, that makes the greatest impact for the kingdom of God and the witness of our faith.