Sometimes I read verses of scripture with regard to various
Doctrines and Theological points; I read about Justification, Grace, Atonement
etc, and I struggle to fully understand them. As I sit here in the wee hrs. of the
morning to summarize my thoughts, it seems that I have a small discovery with
regard to my dilemma. You see many of the concepts I read come together
beautifully, In terms of knowledge that I can store and re-enforce intellectually,
yet as I look back on the few days and hours, it has come to “mind” that to
really understand particular themes of the Bible, there is to be an acquisition
of both knowledge and experience, which helps one to know and embrace
understanding, with both heart/emotion and mind. So what is this epiphany in
reference to? Well, it’s in regard to faithfulness. As a child and young adult,
I thought faithfulness was the pursuit of perfection, with a shallow, egoistic thought
in the back of my mind, that I could possibly attain some measure of “Goodness”.
It’s been some time now since I changed that misguided view.
In the words of Leo Tolstoy (Book: The Kingdom of God is within you), with
regard to God granting us blessing, Tolstoy says… “The greater or less blessedness
of a man depends not on the degree of perfection to which he has attained, but
on the greater or less swiftness with which he is pursuing it”.
I think faithfulness can be summed up as the desperate pursuit of God
and his reign in our lives; we shall fall and be defeated time and time again
by that which we try to overcome, yet we must not stop believing, trying and
progressing towards the SON. When we stop, we grow weak, discouraged and begin
the slow fade to a powerless life. So today, I guess I understand something about
Grace, Mercy and Forgiveness of sins—I know the verses and I know the feelings
through experience, which helps me to appreciate the blessings and also be
appreciative of the intellectual understanding of it, without being boastful or
full of self based on pure knowledge. May God help us to be faithful, ever journeying
back home, where he stands outside the courts, waiting for prodigals like
Our small group has just started going through the Gospels, on Sunday evening. This day was my first presentation, after reading and questioning Matthew chapter’s one through three for over a week now. The following is a summation of a spirited and inspirational class.
- Matthew Chapter 1: There are imperfect people in the genealogy—a flawed King in the person of David and the mention of a Harlot named Rehab. The birth of Jesus occurs in scandalous fashion—Joseph is calculating the most appropriate method to put Mary away without a big ruckus, because she is with Child and he knows he was not the one.
- Chapter 2: There’s Murder about…Trouble in the homes and hearts of so many mothers. Herod searches out Jesus and tries to stamp him out of existence, by killing many babies.
- Chapter 3: There is separation in the life of John. He wears camel hairs and eats wild honey and locust; he’s not integrated into society and culture but his life is symbolic. Symbolic of the disciple consecrated to God in every way; he has no time for anything, but the mission. No time to hang out or to own a bunch of stuff, raise a family, or see Egypt and Rome etc. He has a hard life; a life as a herald to the present society and in such fashion, has no time to just live a so called normal life.
- The imperfect people; the scandal surrounding Jesus’ birth, the murder of babies and the separation of John from society to be consecrated as a herald…all these things matter ; all will be worked out for Good, because of one greatly important reason….Christ is in the story.
As Christians we have to make sure whenever there is scandal about us, or troubles in various forms and fashion, we should try our best to see that the cause of the trouble is not we ourselves. In other words, if Christ was not in the picture painted from Matthew 1-3, there’s no hope or divine will for something better; there’s only scandal, murder and a hard life. So as Christians, we will suffer persecutions, but Christ will guide us to safety; we will suffer In general ways also, because this is a fallen world and bad things happen to all peoples, but let us not be the source of our troubles, let us not be the source of scandals, spiritual murders, backbiting and separating from the family of God for the things of this world. If Christ is not in our stories, we have no hope, no mission and no strength in times of weakness.
As i mentally survey the memories of childhood, I remember Sunday school and all the Biblical characters we learned about, through song and scripture memorization. Every Sunday morning we had better arrive with the memory verse down pat, or else it would be curtains….well, not curtains but a compassionate look of disappointment and such stares. These activities helped me to gather spiritual material for a good foundation, upon which I have been building for the past few years.
When High school and College years came (both at home and abroad), I found myself comparing and contrasting the allurements of the world, with the story of scripture, inclusive of the demands of God. Every time I did something I knew I shouldn’t have done, I felt the bite of a conscience defined by years upon years of listening and speaking scripture, rehearsing the stories constantly, until they were woven into the story of my life, informing my actions and guiding my decisions for school, for dating, for relationships on a whole and for my life’s work.
I say all this in response to what I see in many places (Churches) today. Because of the multiplicity of personalities within cultural systems, many churches offer a “Gospel of accommodation”…a Gospel that does not involve knowing about Faith to grow and mature, neither calling others to sit, study, consider and decide how they respond to the God of the universe. In the old testament, the word was on the door post, on the lentil and everywhere in the house, that as the Children of Israel rose up in the morning and laid down at night, they saw Gods word, internalized it and allowed the transformation to begin.
Today, in so many places, we have philosophical discussions ; we read endless self help books and substitute the experiences of the writer, for the word of God that is quick and powerful, sharper than any two eged sword, able to pierce us to the core, cutting away the selfishness of sin and allowing us to walk in righteousness. Today, people can get away with not bringing their bibles; they can get away with not being prepared to hear the demands of God proclaimed; they are easy going because the grace and love of God has no references, to serve as a constant reminder of our mission in the world. More shows, more drama, more videos and books about the spiritual journeys of individuals and less of pure, scripture, line by line, precept upon precept. So the question for the day is…. Now that we have gotten 2 Timothy 2: 15 out of the way, how may we accommodate you?
Today was another challenging day . i find myself struggling to make good on investments and ventures geared to bless the life of my family and myself. my carnal nature insisted that i entertain thoughts of having bad luck or the case of the occasional curse. as i went home i saw my family inclusive of my wife and daughter and i had to conclude that i am truly blessed ! . it seems so often when struggles come, we get frustrated and feel like we are about to loose our mind and calm emotion, steadily forgetting that we walk by faith and not fluctuating circumstance–it is easy to encourage someone to keep on or preach a masterful sermon on faith and endurance, yet when the lesson moves from the confines of historic Jerusalem and escapes the daily life of a lame man at the gate called beautiful, it shows up in our lives ;walking your paths and dictating the frequency of our blessings and your setback..this is where rubber meets road and Christianity lives and breathes..i thank God for struggles;;they point me to him and teach me to wait..as i wait, i can praise and feel relaxed knowing that if he took care of flowers, he will take care of me and though that may not happen on a material level, it will happen on the most important level ; the spiritual. i say this with trepidation and minimal fear as i live in a society where things are readily accessible and so many opportunities exists in modern comfort and free for all, yet, we must be sober and do the things, say the prayers and attend the services that would keep our affection on higher things..may the lord bless me and you to understand in joy or disappointment ; to have life and have it abundantly ; to never give up, having the audacity to hope against hope and walk even when no paths have been laid—WE LAY NEW ONES !!!!