Archive for April, 2021
“He said to His disciples, ‘It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come’” (Luke 17:1)!
These words of Jesus highlight the impact of our lives and the burden of responsibility we carry in shaping the world’s perception of Christianity, and what it means to be a follower of Christ. It is a task of such significance, we will be judged not only for the life we live but, also, leading astray by our carelessness the weak, the immature, the lost, and the inquiring. A shaky world like ours desperately needs the portrayal of a sure-footed faith.
“But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 17).
When we say, “This is what I think you ought to do,” it is being offered as an opinion or option. Scripture, however, uses “ought” to emphasize expectation, duty, responsibility. For instance, we ought to pray and not lose heart (Lk.18:1). We ought to keep calm and do nothing rash (Acts 19:36). We ought to love one another (1 John 4:11). Give heed to the oughts of scripture. In them you find what we ought to know, believe, and do.
“These thing I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11).
Listen to individuals speak of their want of happiness in life and you soon discover why it has yet to be realized—their quest has evolved into a selfish preoccupation. The joy that Jesus offers stands in stark contrast to the happiness that the world seeks. Joy is the experience to be had by those who live life as a selfless pursuit for the benefit of others.
“This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering” (2 Thessalonians 1:5).
If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving, why is their suffering in the world? It’s a question that has long existed and is the most common argument used by unbelievers to debate the existence of God. For centuries theologians have sought to answer the question with various theodicies that seek to defend God. For believers, however, the greater question of suffering isn’t one of why but how—how do we respond? There is never a circumstance where we are not providentially situated; when we are not called to be salt and light; to bear testimony of the hope that is in us.
“And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him” (Luke 12:10).
The work of revelation accomplished by the Holy Spirit is to make Christ known, and to inspire, illuminate, and empower the word of God that it might be understood and lived out. The blasphemy of the Spirit is a danger facing not those seeking to follow him but, rather, those to whom we speak about the works of God in Christ, and their rejection of what the Spirit has made known to them. For those who would reject his forgiveness there is no forgiveness.
“One of the lawyers said to Him in reply, ‘Teacher, when you say this, you insult us too’” (Luke11:45).
Overhearing the harsh words Jesus spoke to the inquiring Pharisee (vs.37-42), a nearby lawyer considered it insulting to his profession as well. Such is the nature of truth, it rarely comes as a polite tap but, most often, a howling reproach to one’s present course. That his hearers wouldn’t miss the point, Jesus often used derogatory terms such as snakes, dogs, foxes, hypocrites, fouled tombs, and dirty dishes to describe those standing in opposition to the kingdom life he sought to proclaim. His affirmation is always for the repentant and never the defiant sinner. Because truth isn’t accommodating or compromising it can come across as insulting. It used to be called conviction, and provided the fuel necessary to seek out a change of course.
“I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do” (Luke 12:4).
If Jesus Christ is to be held forth as the embodiment of absolute Truth, it is necessary for credible voices to speak on his behalf. We do the world no favors accommodating, in the name of love, the pursuit of lifestyles that stand in direct contradiction to the designs of God set forth in scripture. How much hate is necessary to even consider such? Truth is suppressed when one’s greater concern is the favorable opinions of others. These are the types who love themselves more than truth. It’s time for the followers of Christ to regain our seat of influence in the part of the world Christ has entrusted to us. Besides, all the world can do is kill you.
“Under the circumstances, after so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were stepping on one another, He began to say, ‘Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy’” (Luke 12:1).
The thousands gathered is, literally, ten thousand in the Greek. In such a throng as this, I’m convinced Jesus chose to address, directly, his disciples as an intended reminder of what will be their responsibility to interpret the kingdom of God for the people in a way the Pharisees never could, or would. Arguably, there is no greater trust we hold as the followers of Christ than, by our actions and attitudes, to translate him to the world we enter into each day. In this, we are on mission where our feet are.
“Under these circumstances, after so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were stepping on one another, He began saying to His disciples first of all, ‘Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy’” (Luke 12:1).
The leaven of the Pharisees is a virus that brings a slow death to the community of faith. As seen three-fold woes Jesus pronounced against them (11:37-44), their meticulous concern for ceremonial protocols comes at the expense of justice and the love of God. This, along with their love for a corrupted system that has afforded them power and position, made them a contaminant to the people and their understanding of what God would desire. Such is the nature of all false ideas regarding God; it only makes a person more religious and, thus, in a state all the worse.
“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
That some professing believers fall in love with rules and regulations indicates a systemic dysfunction in their understanding and practice of the life of faith. Religion produces rules while a relationship with Jesus evokes love. While all the commandments of Jesus are important, they are rightly practiced when understood within this context. When our love for others grows out of our love for Christ, all the other commands will be accomplished.