Widen your Gaze

Discipleship and the Christian Life
For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Reference: Matthew 5:46-48

This makes me think of another verse:

“Go out into the highways and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”  Luke 14:23

We cannot fill the house if we stick to the people we know.  God has new friends out there for us.  Maybe Angels disguised as strangers!  I am excited to see who wanders within my sight today.  I wonder how I can love them.

Advertisements

Who is in Charge?

Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!”

Reference: Acts 5:29

I am a rule follower. Once I saw a terrible accident on Sheridan Road in Chicago. A pedestrian was hit crossing the street and flew up at least nine feet in the air. I was the second car back and should have stopped to be a witness. There were plenty of people on the spot to attend to the victim, but I should have stopped. It was in heavy traffic and people were honking in cluelessness. All I could think of was to try to find a legal place to park a bit. It didn’t occur to me for weeks that in an emergency the normal rules are suspended. I should have put my car in park right is the road and let the honking resound. Now I know and the next time I was in an emergency, I blocked traffic with my car while my son ran out to pull children though a window of an overturned SUV.

We rule-followers need to rehearse in our heads that there may be times to disobey or not cooperate. God gives the authorities to us for our good (Rom. 13:4-5) but never placed those authorities over Himself. God is in charge. I expect our reputations as rule-followers will sometimes highlight the act of noncooperation. God grant us wisdom and the Holy Spirit in such times. I expect it will require quick thinking.

One Who Serves

The greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

Reference: Luke 22:25-27

I have known some great people in my life. One man in particular is a terrific Bible expositor, a beloved pastor, an effective activist and a fine musician. He has just reached 80 and is indeed like the youngest. He listens eagerly and prays fervently. Most patiently, he drives his granddaughter and her two boys all around town now that their car is broken. On Saturdays he is the accompanist for his church’s little choir. One year he was the first white guy to get the top award from the local NAACP. He hates that kind of attention, but accepted quietly to show support for the group’s choice. While a pastor in Malawi, this man who eshewed robes or a clerical collar in the U.S. accepted the heavy woolen floor-length outfit (with tabs) with which the Scottish Presbyterian missionaries had cursed their tropical converts. Whatever his parishoners deemed proper he would wear. They loved him for it. Playful, learning, open, whole-hearted. I admire this youthful, serving heart. The scripture commands us to be first by serving and I believe we are given a happier, easier life if we live like that. Not so far to fall.

Government

Romans 13:4-5

God endorses order. I have many disagreements with the President, but if I balance the benefit I receive from our government against the grief, I thank God for order. In fact, the Executive Branch of the Federal Government is relatively small in the whole framework that governs me. License the dog, send the kids to school, bring the dumpster up from the curb on time, stop when the light is red, pay taxes on time are all lawful duties. Us blog readers today are not the bank robbers of the world. We are the resenters of intrusions in our lives- perhaps the ones who think we are able to be in charge of ourselves and bend trifling rules when convenient for us. We often begin worship at Kalamazoo Mennonite Fellowship like this: “You are God and I am not. You are God and we are not.” Today I am going to feel grateful for government big and small. I wonder if I can be supportive of God’s servants (cops, board members, State legislators) in some way.

Daughter of Abraham

It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.
Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring–not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed–the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.

Reference: Romans 4: 13-17

Abraham received the promise: You will be the father of many nations. The covenant is eternal and involves land.

Is this a fair paraphrase?:
Your life is significant. Your influence and heritage will go on beyond your fleeting earthly years. God notices you and binds Himself to you in relationship.

Abraham is my father by faith. Time is a strange commodity, but I think he has been my father since before he had any children at all. It has taken generations for all of us to be born and grow and believe, but somehow I am there with him when the promise was made in a spiritual parallelism with Isaac being there with him as a physical zygote. Heirs to the promise! Me and Isaac! The Hebrew Children’s land of Canaan is my New Jerusalem. Their unbroken chain of the Chosen (father to son to grandson) is our eternal life in glory.

MY life is significant. My influence and heritage will go on beyond my fleeting earthly years. God notices me and binds Himself to His church in relationship.

Praise the Lord.

The Lord is king

In a recent NOVA segment, a scientist was explaining physics at a chalkboard. He was trying to speak clearly, simply and hold his temper as his unseen audience struggled to follow him and failed to respond with any evidence of comprehension. The camera pulled back to reveal his lone student to be a dog. Some beings have no chance of insight. Already today the Lord is king. Someday everyone will know it for a fact, but now Christians live with a different perception than most people. It is bewildering to both unbelievers and believers to see decisions based on wholly distinct viewpoints about who is in charge.

Meek, grieving, persecuted, hungry – these seem key times to show God, ourselves and the world about whom we believe to be in charge. “Blessed are you…” These trials are chances to show whom we trust. And these experiences being common to all, are cracks through which we can share with non-believers. The Lord is King!
Bess