Friday, March 20, 2015

Speak No Evil

There is a disturbing trend on the rise in churches and among believers lately. There are some who have even given it a name and call it a "ministry". I will neither credit them nor their so called ministry here by mention, because I find that within the pages of scripture it is a  grievance to God. Suffice to say, as Christians we are admonished over and over in the Bible not to gossip, bear tales, bear false witness, or unjustifiably criticize others.  As students of the Bible, and disciples of Christ, we know better.  It is simply not to be done. 

And yet. And yet, we do it anyways, blithely draping it in the a cloak of spirituality. Call it what you will. But it's wrong.  Whether it's criticizing a fellow church member, or a man on television, it's equally, unarguably wrong.  There are scores of references, examples, and admonitions all throughout the pages of scripture.  We will explore a few here.

Perhaps I should back up and give some personal anecdote here.  I have sat in both the seat of the scornful and of the scorned. Neither is a good place to be.  Years ago I was one of those fist pumping spiritual giants, ready to level the title "heretic" on any who challenged my paradigm.  The Spirit of God raged against me about it one day. Yes I use that term, because it is perhaps the only time in my Christian walk He has been anything other than gentle with me.

He began by asking me questions.  When God begins asking questions of you, it's already time to repent.  He Asked me what my qualifications were for judging His ministers, and my level of expertise on the subject of heresy.  Obviously I was found wanting in both areas.  After His dealing with my heart, I had to acknowledge that I should explore the truths that were at the core of these "heresies" rather than throw out the baby with the bathwater.  I agreed, but only if He would guide me and keep me from stumbling and falling into error myself.  He readily ratified the deal saying, "I can do that".

Well of course He can.

And He did.

Now I am not here as a shill for any preacher, small or great, or any televangelist, no matter how outlandish some may find them.  Their ministries do not rise or fall  based on our opinions of them.  I am here to change MY heart and to do things right.  Perhaps I can persuade others to join me along this journey.

One of the watershed verses concerning this issue for me over the years has been this:

Romans 14:4 KJVS
[4] Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

Now before someone cries "context!"  This passage is found where the writer is dealing with dietary preferences.  Some were deriding others and judging them as nonspiritual or unholy because of what they ate or didn't eat.  Isn't scripture likened to food in many places? Bread? Milk? Meat? 

May I be so bold to suggest that as long as a person's faith is in Jesus Christ, that it's none of your business how he worships?  As long as he is saved and is earnestly doing the best he can to live according to his convictions, he is a servant of The Master.  whether he stands or falls is decided by his own relationship to God.

He's not like us!

Mark 9:38-39 KJVS
[38] And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. [39] But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. [40] For he that is not against us is on our part.

Luke 9:49 KJVS
[49] And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. [50] And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.

This problem has been around since before TV and televangelists.  It's in our sinful nature.  In my grandparents day it was the Baptists against the Methodists, the Lutherans against the Pentecostals, etc. etc. Nowadays its local churches. individuals and even big so-called ministries tearing at some big name, and for what?  It occurred even in Christ's own following. He told them to just leave them alone.  It's none of your business.

Gasp! John was the beloved disciple.  Yet Jesus corrected him in most certain terms.  Are we easily corrected by the Spirit?  I pray so.

He's Meddling!

John 21:20-23 KJVS
[20] Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? [21] Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do ? [22] Jesus saith unto him,
If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. [23] Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?

The message here is very clear.  Jesus wants all His followers to stay focused on their own calling, not someone else's.  Altogether too often we fall into that trap of worrying about what everyone else is doing.  But Jesus simply commands, "follow thou me".  

Pretty simple, but oh how we transgress!

Heavy Stuff Here...  

Jude 1:8-9 KJVS
[8] Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. [9] Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

Everyone should read the book of Jude periodically.  This small, but powerful book has sent me to the altar of repentance many many times.  In verse eight, he is continuing a thought; speaking of those in churches who practice and speak evil. Yes. Evil.  The archangel refused to use this practice even on Satan! Yet we easily and glibly without forethought speak against people who are made in God's image all the time.

It's a grievous thing.

What's even more grievous is the time we spend on it, when we could be speaking of the Lord.

In our household we have renewed our commitment to flee far away from these practices.  Further, to have no part in it when it is being done in our presence. Put no evil before thine eye, as the scripture tells us. Sometimes that evil is closer than we think.

This may bring persecution on us. We may be rejected of men.  This is typical of the life of a follower of Jesus.  But we are determined. We will overcome.

Will you?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What Would Jesus Do? Part 5 [Truth 3]

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6 KJV)
This is a verse that is very familiar to most Christians.  Although we cannot all recall the actual reference, many of us can quote it right off the top of our heads.  This is a good thing!  It is a foundational truth of the Bible.  But how often do we consider the profundity of this one statement by the Master?

He did not say he was ‘a’ way, ‘a’ truth, or ‘a way of’ life.  He claimed the embodiment of all three.  This is huge.  In a day and age in which truth is relegated to the subjective, we are reminded that in order to find truth, we must seek Him.  In no other way can we experience truth.

We must come to the simple realization that Jesus was not just a great man, a wise prophet, or a sage teacher.  He is truth.  He is life.  He is the way.  These three things summarize all the things that humans seek.  All the yearnings of man can be boiled down to these three basic needs.  And He embodies all.  If we seek Him, we find realization to all that we seek.  How do we know this?  He says so:
And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11:9-13 KJV)
Again, if He is to be believed (and He is), then we have this precious promise;  That if we seek Him, we shall surely find Him, and all that He has for us (the Holy Spirit). He further reinforces this concept by giving us a relatable life application.  Anyone who loves their children can easily understand.  We do not teach them by doing evil things to them.  We do good for them.  If they happen to hurt themselves through disobedience, we can impart instruction through such circumstances.  But our intent is always for their good.

Truth is not relative, it is not subjective.  Truth is Jesus Christ.  Everything He did, everything He said, everything He taught.  This is why it is imperative for those of us who call ourselves His disciples to know everything we can possibly know about Him.

Why is truth so important?  Jesus again had something to say in this area:
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free(John 8:31-32 KJV)
Far too long have people looked on the Gospel and the Way of Christianity as bondage and rules.  Jesus was all about freedom.  Here, he provides the simplest, most direct way to true freedom;  To know the truth.  Freedom is a desire that is birthed into all who draw breath, but many never truly find it.  They reject freedom by rejecting truth, by rejecting Jesus Christ.  To be His disciple is to be truly free!

How dos this pertain to the topic of this series?  If we are to do things as He did (or would do), we must embody the truth.  We must resist the temptation to varnish the truth in order to make it more palatable.  In many cases Jesus angered, or otherwise offended those who were to prideful or self-absorbed to be taught.  Although it was never His driving motivation to affect people in this manner, He loved them far to much to mis-represent the truth.

What would Jesus do?  The truth.  Simple as that.  Far more than facts, more transcendent than opinion, and certainly above personal anecdote or experience. Truth is simply truth in any age, and can be found in only One.  As the scripture admonishes: let God be true, but every man a liar; (Rom 3:4a KJV) Let us not be caught up with winds of doctrine, right seeming though they may be, or even our own ideas and experiences.  Let us go to the One who loves us so much, and learn of Him.  Only then can we know truth.

Then as He came, so He sends us:
Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. (John 20:21 KJV)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What Would Jesus Do? Part 5 [Truth 2]

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (Eph 4:14-15 KJV)

Speaking the truth in love

In this day and age, we as a society seem to have a singular problem defining the truth.  Nowadays truth has either been made subjective, or else it’s discarded completely.  Unfortunately this is a problem that has also found a place in the church.  The writer to the Ephesians likened this to childishness.  Conversely, knowing and speaking the truth is the mark of maturity.  This also comes with great responsibility.  Truth must be spoken, but it must also be spoken in love. 

Our greatest example of this, of course, is Jesus.  Thus continues our quest to ascertain what He would do, and how.  In this installment we will examine the case of a seeker who heard truth, but it was not what he expected.  We take up the account in the book of Mark, but the parallel chronicle in Matthew identifies him as a ‘rich young ruler’.

And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. (Mar 10:17-22 KJV)

There came one running

What makes a person run?  Urgency.  Obviously this young man really meant to obtain what he was seeking.  In that day, anybody with status did not run, it was undignified.  Yet he ran.  He had learned where to find truth.  He had lived a devout life, and still felt unsatisfied, incomplete.  He was on a quest to find truth, and he was on a mission.

He kneeled

He approached the Master in a proper fashion, he revered Him.  Despite being a ruler, and wealthy to boot, he was not too proud to take a knee before the King.

Asked him what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

He was direct.  Although his greeting may have appeared to be flattery, which Jesus dealt with summarily, he quickly made his request known.

Jesus beholding him loved him

This is the pivotal point of the whole story.  Jesus looked at him.  He loved him.  How could He not?  He is the very personification of love.  Then he imparted truth.  The scripture does not relate a lot about the young man other than the fact that he had wealth, and position.  Neither of these things are evil or sinful in and of themselves. But Jesus discerned a part of the fellow that had him bound, and barred his way from that which he sought.

He was consumed by his riches.  The gold itself, being a mere physical object did not do this, but it was a problem with the condition of his heart.  Jesus, loving him, could not, would not, do anything less than tell him the truth.  He needed to shed that which had him bound.  Not only would he have to divest himself of all his substance, he would have to give it to the poor.

He was sad and went away grieved

Apparently the young man was not very perceptive, or receptive.  He left, head hung low, rejecting the truth.  He did not hear what he thought he wanted to from Jesus.  Often the truth affects us in the same way.  We must be cautious not to respond to Him in the same manner.  He missed the point.  He sought eternal life, but chose to keep the swag.  He did not understand God’s principal of seed time and harvest;  That caring for the poor with disregard for self, would be not only setting up for eternal life, but possibly a much greater harvest in this life.

The rich young ruler was not alone gagging at the truth:

And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible. (Mar 10:23-27 KJV)

Jesus saith unto his disciples

Surely He must have been just as disappointed to see the young man leave, as the fellow himself was.  I can detect it in His statement to the disciples.  Again, truth!  It shocked them, as we see in the passage.

The disciples were astonished

Even after following Him, living with Him, and learning from Him, they struggled with this same truth imparted to the rich guy.  But He wasn’t done yet.  He place the concept of the rich gaining the Kingdom, to an impossible, absurd act.  I have heard many, attempt to explain this statement by explaining that the salley port of the gate of a walled city being called ‘eye of the needle’, but  in this case I believe it dilutes Jesus’ meaning.  Can we just not take Him at His word?

They were astonished out of measure

This parallelism really made them uncomfortable.  At least some of them had come from wealthy positions in their former life.  Peter, Andrew, James, and John were owners of fishing businesses, no small trade in that day.  Clearly, they missed a point too though.  Jesus said it was hard for those that ‘trust in riches’ to enter the Kingdom.

Saying Who then can be saved?

In light of this observation, I can imagine that their question was not altogether altruistic.  Besides the greater view, they were wondering about their own qualifications for the Kingdom.

Here, we have a group of at least thirteen men who have been deeply moved, and upset by the truth.  Jesus spoke it, knowing full well the impact it would have on all of them.  He still loved them.  He spoke the truth, in love.  Thankfully, He gave the final truth in this lesson, although the rich young ruler didn’t stick around for it.  We have a lot of people like that now days don’t we?

With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

Glory be to God!  This is the best news of all!  And it is also truth, spoken in love.

The takeaway from all this is this:  Truth is not always palatable.  It does not always make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  It will not always be well received when we speak it to others, but speak it we must.  If we are to honestly ask the question, What Would Jesus Do?, then we must never be hesitant to speak the truth, even if it will be misunderstood and rejected.  And at times, it will.

Where does that leave telling ‘little white lies’ in order to spare someone’s feelings? Off limits, if we are to be true disciples of Christ.  There is no such thing as a white lie anyways.  They all come from the father of lies, Satan.

Hopefully this little study has furthered our understanding of the way of the Master, our supreme example.  Our captain. Our king.  Everything He said and did was for our benefit, and our example.

Let’s follow Him truly, shall we?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Nugget For The New Year

(KJV) Proverbs 12:1 Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof [is] brutish.

Modern translations render the word brutish in this verse, as stupid. Wow! That's pretty tough! But it's one of the sayings of the wisest man in history other than Jesus Himself!

Brutishness or hostility are often trademarks of the unteachable. Those who openly defy the man of God or otherwise seek to undermine the Word, are simply demonstrating brutishness. We have been treated to several displays of such in our own little body of believers.

The lesson in this, is not to be 'that guy'. If you are that guy, then STOP IT! It is certainly within our power to make that decision.

Let's all make a decision for the new year. (I really dislike the term resolution) Let's strive to be more open to the teaching that God so much wants to give us. His Word brings life!

Now, let the new year begin! BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Sunday, December 26, 2010

What Would Jesus Do? Part 5 [Truth 1]

Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.  (John 18:37-38 KJV)

Pilate’s question seems a bit rhetorical, perhaps insolent, or maybe even contemplative.  There are many ways to interpret this verse, but the final result was still the same.  He rejected truth in favor of satisfying the demands of men, resulting in the death sentence of our Lord.   It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Truth is something that people still struggle with, even to this day.

There are three basic ways that truth is handled:  Some receive it gladly, and are saved.  Others reject it summarily, while others yet philosophize over it until it becomes irrelevant in their lives.

The grand irony of Pilate’s question is, that it had already been answered previously by Jesus Himself:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (Joh 14:6 KJV)

To reject the truth, is to reject Jesus.  He is the very embodiment of truth.  In His time, many rejected Him and His teachings, while yet others , received Him with gladness of heart.  Others, like Pilate, and later Herod Agrippa (Acts 26:28) tried to apply human reasoning to Him and missed the point entirely.

In contemplating this next installment of the WWJD series, it became apparent to me rather quickly that this is one aspect of Jesus’ personhood that defies summing up briefly.  It will be necessary to take this one in smaller bites, in order to avoid creating a massively bloated post.  Truth is a subject that has become so twisted and subjective, that the average person has no hope of recognizing it.  The one sure way to know the truth, and keep from being deceived is to know Jesus intimately and be a disciple of all He taught.

Do we do this?  It’s a question we should all be asking ourselves daily.  If not, the truth is only as far away as the nearest copy of the Bible.  The Bible is the nearest thing we have today to the physical presence of Jesus.  Copies are easily obtained here in the western world, yet is one of the most things taken for granted.  Strange philosophies have crept into the Church and have supplanted the truth of Jesus’ teachings.  People are actively exchanging the truth for a lie.  It’s a sign of the times.

Just today, several people got up and left our church today, when our pastor announced that he would be speaking on the truth.  Rather than stay and learn, they left.  One even deposited a nasty note for him in the lobby as they left.  They rejected the truth, rejected Jesus.  This happens all the time.  People cling to falsehood and become angry when it is challenged.

Jesus dealt with this in His day too.  In one day, a large part of His following left Him to follow no more.  He did not go after them or try to placate them.  He continued to teach and embody truth.  He asked his closest disciples, the 12, if they wanted to leave too.  Peter responded by saying that there was no other place to go, for He had the words of life. 

Do we have this kind of determination?  If not, it’s time to take inventory.  Can we have our beliefs challenged by the Word, and be transformed?  Or do we seek to rationalize our behavior?  Do we get angry and attack God’s messengers?  Or do we receive judgment in the house of God?  All vital questions that need to be answered  circumspectly.

Jesus did not preach messages in order to satisfy people’s feelings.  He loves humanity far too much to soften the blow.  He angered many, including his own followers from time to time, yet He loved them.  Can we receive this kind of love, or do we seek a church that is a little easier to take?

Truth is truth in any age.  How willing are we to be changed by it, by Him?  If we are struggling with truth, it is NOT His fault.  He is the pure truth.  To say or do otherwise is to place His veracity into question, and that is never a safe place to dwell.

Hopefully during this season of the year, you will resolve to get to know Him, if you never have.  If you do know Him, determine to get to know him even  better.  This is an investment that pays huge dividends.  Eternal dividends.

In our next posts, we will examine in more detail some specific instances where Jesus spoke the truth.  This should prove to be interesting, surprising in some instances, and hopefully transformational.

Join us, won’t you?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What Would Jesus Do? Part 4 [Compassion]

There is a video on that has made it’s way around the internet , entitled Get Service.  It portrays a young man as he prepares to go about his daily routine, except that it seems that everyone who crosses his path is out to inconvenience him or otherwise delay his progress.  That is until a mysterious gent gives him a pair of glasses that enable him to peer into the lives of the people that he comes into contact with.  Needless to say, it changes his perspective in short order.  Go see it!  It’s worth the four minutes or so of viewing time.

Compassion is not an attribute that we normally associate with masculinity in today's culture. Satan's counterfeit,  machismo, wars against this Godly characteristic, and all to often wins out. This is based in selfishness, or  a self-seeking mentality.  Machismo dictates that one look out for himself with total disregard to the comfort or well-being of others.

We have an example to follow by which we can gauge true manliness, Jesus Christ.  Often we ask, or are asked, “What would Jesus do?”.  As we have noted in previous posts, this is a topic that can cover a lot of ground, so let's look at this often misunderstood characteristic, one that the Master expects us to emulate Him in.

His Compassion was universal

And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. (Mat 9:35-36 KJV)

Jesus saw the people just as they were, confused, hurting, and wayward.  That sounds like so much of society today.  They were the guy that cut you off in traffic, or the one that was rude to you at Walmart.  They were the ones obstinate and obtuse by choice or ignorance;  In short, they were people behaving in much the same ways as they have in any generation.

But rather than act out with disdain or dismissiveness, He was moved with, or driven by compassion.  Are we driven enough by compassion? If not, then we have work to do.  It is the way He was.  I want to be this way.  It is what I long for Him to change in my heart.

He had compassion on ALL of them.  He saw people as unique individuals, every one precious in His eyes.  Much like the fellow wearing the glasses in the video, I believe Jesus could discern their individual trials.  He did not view them as the masses, He cared very much for each and every one of them.

How often do we view people as objects or obstacles?  Annoyances?  A necessary evil?  I dare say we do it (to our shame) far more than we would be comfortable admitting.  But that was not the way of the Master.

He made no distinction between those 'worthy' or 'unworthy', rich or poor, clean or dirty.  He simply wasn’t interested in class struggles.  He would have given no favoritism to the guy carrying the cardboard sign saying ‘will work for food’, or the one driving the BMW past him.

You get the picture...

His compassion brought healing

When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities. And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. (Mat 14:13-14 KJV)

Here, Jesus had taken leave of the people to pray, yet they followed Him, in order to hear His teaching, and to be touched by Him.  They had interrupted His purpose in praying and rejuvenating His own Spirit.  He immediately changed His plans, due to His great compassion and ministered to them.

What do we display to people in need when they interrupt what we are doing?  Even when we are doing something spiritual?  Even when we are attempting to tend to our own spiritual needs?  Compassion? Or contempt?

Are we following in the Master's footsteps?

Christ like compassion heals physical needs, spiritual needs, as well as emotional needs.  It also addresses social needs:

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Heb 10:25 KJV)

I believe Jesus was a people person.  He was willing to engage people when at their lowest points in life.  I believe he still is, and is our supreme example.

Compassion compelled Him to heal the sick.  He healed them ALL:

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. (Act 10:38 KJV)

See also: Matt 4:24, Matt 8:16, Luke 4:40

His compassion brought vision

So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him. (Mat 20:34 KJV)

Compassion compelled Him to do the impossible.  Modern science can restore blindness, but it is a very expensive and risky procedure.  The results cannot be guaranteed, many times surgical attempts fail.  But Jesus restored sight to all the blind that He ministered to.  This is exceptional, a 100% recovery rate.  Medical science can only envy that statistic from afar.

How often are we driven to do the impossible, or even the difficult but possible?  The inconvenient?  The easy?

Why are signs not following those that believe? (Mark 16:17)  Are we believers?  Are we moved by compassion?  These are sobering questions that seem to raise the bar ever higher.  Still, we are to strive to go higher and higher.

Compassion drove His desire to heal

And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. (Mar 1:41 KJV)

Perhaps one of Jesus' most poignant statements was, “I will”.  In a more modern paraphrase, He might have put it this way:   “I am willing”, or “It is My will”, or “That's what I want for you”.  In those times, the leper was a pariah, shunned by all, often forced to live in camps removed from populated areas.  Jesus had no tolerance for leprosy either, but he had compassion for the victims.  Rather than shun them, He healed them.

Do we really believe that healing is His will for today?  If His compassion was universal then, it still is today.  Perhaps if we did not struggle so mightily in believing that for ourselves, we would be more driven to minister to others...

He was willing to heal.  He still is... through us

He desired to heal.  He still does... through us

It was His passion.  It should be ours

It was His mission.  It is ours too:

Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. (John 20:21 KJV)

His compassion brought comfort

Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. (Luk 7:12-14 KJV)

He comforted those in sorrow.  He did not offer pep talks, or false Cheer.  No empty cliche's, or awkward platitudes.  He brought only Truth, and He brought life.  Do we bring life into situations?  Do we speak life to people, or do we tend to speak destruction?  Yet more sobering questions…

His compassion was un-biased

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, (Luke 10:33 KJV)

The back-story here is Jesus’ famous parable of the Good Samaritan.  I believe it is no accident that Jesus used a Samaritan as the central figure in this illustration.  His critics had often referred to Him in an uncharitable fashion, as a Samaritan.  He had, after all, been raised in Nazareth, and based His ministry in Capernaum of Galilee.  Jews in those days did not view Samaritans with the milk of human kindness.  Racial prejudice is no new thing in human history, and was alive and operational in Jesus’ time.  Yet it was one of these ‘dogs’ that ministered healing to a Jewish man whilst others ‘of his kind’ shunned him.

Jesus was unconcerned with racial boundaries.  He touched those in need, often breaching social taboos.

In the story, this outland benefactor gave of Himself, not only financially, but of His time and talent.  He became personally involved despite the fact that He didn't have to.  He embraced the victim of a horrible crime, administered first aid, using his own supplies.  He transported his charge at his own expense, on his own animal, to an inn.  There, he paid from his own purse for the man’s lodging.

He committed Himself to someone else's future.  He promised the innkeeper to return after a time, and check on the man.  If there was more time required, he vowed to pay more, whatever it took to see the man restored.

No wonder this parable has touched such a chord among so many throughout the generations.  Many, many people know little to nothing about the life of Jesus, yet know something of the parable of the Good Samaritan.  There must be a reason why so many hospitals are named for this ageless example of Christ-like compassion.

As I wrap up this rather lengthy post, I would like to conclude by referring you to yet another blog post.  This is written by a very talented and insightful young lady in my church.  It is called The Kingdom Journal, and in it she sums up rather eloquently all the things that God has been placing in my heart as I prepared this installment of The Berean Report.

I hope you will read it, as well as join me again for the next post.

And remember, keep on asking yourself, “What would Jesus do?”.

Friday, November 5, 2010

What Would Jesus Do? Part 3

What DID Jesus do?

Well, there is the thirty-four dollar question.  The Bible has much to say about what He did, what He said, how He acted, who He was.  It’s amazing to me how many different ideas there are out there about who Jesus is and what He did.  Actually the entirety of the Bible is about Him.  The Old Testament foretells of Him, the New Testament gives an account of His life on Earth, as well as expounds His teachings.  It also tells of Jesus in an aspect not seen in His previous advent.  This is a very deep well to plumb and would be well beyond the scope of this blog to simply sum up the life and nature of The Master.

Yet, there are all the things we have come to know and love about Him.  Chief among them was His heroic sacrifice of atonement for our sins.  There are also the accounts of His compassion on the masses, healing, delivering from demonic oppression, even feeding them.  He is our Savior, our elder Brother, our friend, our Kinsman Redeemer, our Avenger of Blood.

The Witnesses

The best way to get to know someone whom you have never met eyeball to eyeball, is to investigate accounts of those who actually did spend time in His company.  In our New Testament, we have four: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  According to Old Testament law, truth is established in at least two witnesses.  We have twice as many as is required.  We might consider a fifth if we include the Apostle Paul, although his witness of Jesus is primarily post-conversion.

Matthew was also known as Levi, a tax collector.  Likely not a very well liked guy, yet the Master chose him as a disciple.  It is thought that his account is more than likely the most verbatim of the Gospels, due to his training in clerical skills.  He knew shorthand and could take dictation very rapidly.  He was very Jewish, and as such his account majored on Jesus’ lineage and His right to rule.  He also majored on the Messianic prophecies that Jesus fulfilled.

Mark, also called John Mark was among the disciples, though he is not recorded until the book of Acts as a travelling companion to Paul and Barnabas.  He is believed to have penned the Apostle Peter’s account of the Gospel.  It is a book that is bold and to the point, much like we see Peter portrayed elsewhere in scripture.

Not much is known of Luke, other than he was among those who traveled with Jesus.  He wrote his own account of the life and times of our Lord, then wrote a history of the early Church, in the Acts Of The Apostles.  He was a physician, and as such had care and compassion for the suffering.  He recorded the kind, compassion aspects of Jesus, portraying Him as the Son of man.

John’s portrait of Christ is bold, declaring Him as the very Word of God.  This vignette shows Jesus in all His glory and power as He ministered on the Earth.  Yet, love is a very strong theme of this writing.  John also wrote three epistles (letters), and the Apocalypse, or Revelation.  We will examine this in more depth in another post.

These all recorded the life and ministry of Jesus, by divine inspiration.  But they also had their own unique perspectives.  Many of the specifics are recorded by at least three of the Gospels.  It would be a good idea to do a comparative study of them.  Alternatively, one could find a good outline harmony of the Gospels and attempt to read them in chronological order.  At any rate, the gospels, along with the book of Acts should be studied as a whole in order to get to the depths we are attempting to plumb.

What He Did

This can be best summed up in the following passage:

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. (Act 10:38 KJV)

  • He was anointed of the Holy Ghost. (This was before Acts Chapter 2)
  • He was anointed with power
  • He went about (He was pro-active)
  • He did good
  • He healed ALL (Not just those who were ‘deserving’ or who He ‘chose’ to. ALL)
  • He freed the people from demonic possession, oppression, and bondage.

Aside from his mission to redeem mankind from sin, this was His principal mission.  This is a pretty good template to follow for those who would Do What Jesus Did.

The Myths

Time to kick over some sacred cows. 

There are a lot of misconceptions out and about concerning the personage of Jesus.  There is one sect that calls itself Christian, yet relegates Him to the ranks of angels, denying His Godhood.  This very seriously breaches many passages of scripture that clearly place Him in the Godhead.  Don’t be fooled by these pseudo-Christian doctrines.  The Bible calls them doctrines of devils.

Astoundingly, many of the world’s major religions venerate Jesus, but only as a very wise man, or a great prophet.  He was both of these things, yet He was more.  A wise sage, or a great oracle cannot atone for the sins of the world.  He did so, and arose having defeated even death itself.  He ascended into Heaven and is still alive to this day, sitting in the council of God Himself!

There are some who espouse the ideology that Jesus came preaching ‘love and acceptance’.  Generally speaking, it has been my experience that this is the mantra of someone who is trying very hard to rationalize poor and irresponsible (anti-scriptural) behavior.  While Jesus is the embodiment of love, and his invitation to salvation is universal,  The subject of most of His messages were about neither.  Upon closer examination of the Witnesses, you will discover that He preached primarily of the Kingdom Of God.  This is another huge subject to tackle, and may be the subject of another blog series.  But the main point of all this, is that He laid out principles in all of His teachings of how we as disciples are to behave within the Kingdom.  He offered grace, but not the greasy-grace that seems to be associated with the aforementioned statement.

He spoke the truth, in love. (Eph 4:15)  Many received His teachings with gladness of heart.  Others chafed at His words.  Yet the message remained the same.  He was not ‘seeker-sensitive’.  He loved the people far too much to teach them half truths.  Many of the religious ruling class were offended at His words, but some of them, after reconsideration came to Him.  He received them, but His was not a message of compromise.

Our Example

He is the model of what we are to aspire to.  Some might find this a bit too lofty a goal, or may even be a bit put off that we should actually emulate Him.  But this is what He requires of us:

It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord.  (Mat 10:25a KJV)

And this:

Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. (John 20:21 KJV)

In light of this, WWJD takes on a far bigger aspect than the fad that came around in the ‘90’s.  It becomes a golden standard to live by.  It also places the responsibility squarely upon our shoulders to find out what He is all about and behave accordingly.  It’s a sobering thought.  How are we measuring up?  Need some work?  It can seem a daunting task, but He would never require it of us if it were not attainable. 

Let’s all make this our life’s mission, shall we? To be more like Him.