Archive for April, 2021
“For just like lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day” (Luke 17:24).
Like lightning, the return of Christ, the consummation of the age, and the final judgment of God will occur in a flash. Though it cannot be predicted, it is the very thing for which we prepare in our daily lives. Therefore, it is critical to have a biblical understanding of what scripture deems of primary importance; that we might not fall prey to the politicized agendas of others. In the entirety of scripture, there is no scene of the final judgment separated from our works. James wrote that faith without works is dead. Jesus said we shall be known by our fruit; that the sheep and goats will be separated on the basis of our concern for, and ministry to, the “least of these.” Thus, more telling than a confession of faith is a faith in action; more revealing than your partisan vote at the polls is your nonpartisan engagement of the “least of these” at a personal level. There will be no chance for course correction once the lightning flashes on that Day.
“And He said to the disciples, ‘The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. They will say to you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not go away, and do not run after them” (Luke 17:22-23).
Interestingly, this statement to his disciples emerges from a question posed by the Pharisees (v.20). Seemingly, Jesus has come to a point where, instead of trying to correct, once again, their earthly, politicized, triumphal, and imperialistic hope regarding the Kingdom of God, he chooses, instead, to invest a proper understanding to those who would desire, and will perpetuate, a Christocentric-based understanding of Kingdom life; an understanding and pursuit that will make you an outlier from the mainstream, even among those holding forth noble causes and intentions. In such times, stay the course; keeping seeking Christ among the “least of these” within your city and you will find him. In this, life is both found and given.
“nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst” (Luke 17:21).
If the kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed (v.20)—political power, alignment of the stars, or interpreting scripture through current events—how, then, is the kingdom of God realized? By the presence of Christ! The Pharisees could not recognize the kingdom of God when it was in their very midst. They missed the kingdom of God revealed through the personal encounters of Jesus that would enable the blind to see, the lame to walk, lepers to be cleansed, the deaf to hear, the dead to be raised, and the gospel to be preached to the poor (Luke 7:22). By virtue of Christ in us, the church makes evident the kingdom of God when we immerse ourselves into this blind, crippled, diseased, deaf, and dying world as a presence of hope. It is ministry to the least of these that advocacy for life is proved out.
“Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed’” (Luke 17:20).
The question of the spiritually blind Pharisees emerges from a perspective that desires the kingdom of God to be like the kingdoms of men—imperialistic, triumphal, a militaristic, political, socio-economic force to be reckoned with. In their mind, if Caesar still reigns, if the pagans control the senate, if Pontius Pilate is still governor of Judaea, if WE are not running the show and calling the shots, the Messiah has not come. Within institutional religion there is no room for a Messiah like Jesus, who’s kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36).
“So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done’” (Luke 17:10).
As his servants, it is we and not the Master that is under obligation. The life we live as his disciples, however, is compelled not by a legalistic burden of “dos” and “don’t’s,” but a relationship driven solely by a desire to please the Savior. It’s analogous to a marriage relationship that grows richer, fuller, and more selfless with the passage of time. You must diligently stay the course to experience the glory of the journey.
“Praise the LORD ! How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who greatly delights in His commandments” (Psalm 112:1).
To delight in his commandments is to know the reward of arranging one’s life according to God’s design. Is there any greater satisfaction in the life of faith than to respond to a situation in a manner that reflects one’s commitment in Christ, rather than having allowed anger, frustration, or some other negative emotion dictate our response. We praise the Lord for we know it is his Spirit performing this transformational work.
“For by You I can run upon a troop; and by my God I can leap over a wall” (Psalm 18:29).
Alone, and without armor, David was prepared and confident to face his giant. While I don’t know what battles you’re facing or what obstacles stand before you, I’m confident that we are never overmatched. As in the life of David, overcoming life’s challenges is never dependent upon what we can’t do but, rather, what God can do.
“And the Lord said, ‘If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you’” (Luke 17:6).
Having been warned of their accountability for the influence they have over others (v.1-2) and, then, the requirement to be forgiving to the repentant on every occasion (v.4), the appeal of the disciples is, “Lord, increase our faith” (v.5). Their sense is these demands will require a supplemental infusion of extra faith, if they are to be actualized. Jesus, however, utilizes hyperbole, an example of extreme exaggeration, to indicate that the key to seeing these things achieved isn’t extra faith but, rather, the execution of the faith you have.To just sit around praying for more faith means nothing ever gets done. No matter how small our faith, if we will just act upon it, the unimaginable can become reality.
“And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him” (Luke 17:4).
The nature of the world is to hold grudges, be bitter, and harbor resentment. What sets us apart, however, is because we are the beneficiaries of God’s grace, we understand the necessity of being the benefactors of his mercy. True forgiveness is a release of the resentment to which you’re entitled. Such forgiveness releases both parties from a past seeking to hold each one hostage, and into a future God would desire.
“Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3).
The culture would hear these words and respond, “What I do is no one’s business but mine.” Being a follower of Christ, however, is to understand one’s place in the body of Christ; that what I do impacts the family of God. The dynamic of a repentant spirit, and a forgiving disposition, is the necessary dynamic for restoration and the flourishing kinship our Father would desire among brothers.