15 February 2018

Jesus Knew How He Would Serve

For the third time in a short period of time, the three "synoptic" gospel writers, Matthew, Mark and Luke, record Jesus telling his disciples exactly how he would suffer and die. This time it is in the midst of the sad refusal of the rich young ruler to give up what he had; Peter appealing to Jesus whether leaving everything was worth it; Matthew remembering Jesus' parable about workers complaining they weren't being treated fairly even though they were receiving exactly what was agreed; and James and John's mother about to stir trouble by trying to ensure her sons' deserving places in the Kingdom.

In the midst of it all stands the greatest among them who did give up everything he had. He voluntarily left glory to live on the wrong side of the tracks. The only begotten son of the Creator was about to dutifully make the most costly investment toward his kingdom that could have possibly been made.

29 January 2018

Jesus Says It's None Of My Business What's In Your Pay-packet

"Am I not allowed to choose with what belongs to me? Or is your eye bad because I am good?"

We should be reminded that the Gospels are not a collection of random stories. The Spirit led these skilled writers to put together these particular teachings of Jesus in a particular way as the reader takes in the whole narrative. In this case, Matthew (the financial disciple) is the only one to pass on this teaching. And, he has decided to place this teaching between the challenge of the rich young ruler where he reassures his displaced disciples, "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first." and James and John's mother's request for a prominent position in His kingdom.  And so, this parable is a warning to all those who would follow Christ not to be distracted or torn apart by His Father's shocking generosity.

27 November 2017

Jesus Wants Everything

Christ and The Rich Young Ruler - Hoffman
Luke 18:18-30

What if Jesus told me, "Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."? What would I do?

It's such a confronting statement, isn't it? What is it about how Jesus answers the question that is so confronting? 

Here I am typing on a keyboard, on my computer, having the time afforded me by being able to take care of my family during a mere 40-48 hours a week. I have the opportunity to use the remaining 104 hours in the waking week to do whatever I choose. Oh sure, I have other responsibilities to family, house, church and friends, but I can write this blogging project because I don't have to work nearly as hard for what I need as the majority of the world does. My time outside the office is my own to do as I choose. 

And, that's why when me and most of the brothers and sisters I know read this passage, it creates a defensive response. "Is this what Jesus is asking of me?" "Do I really have to do that much to follow Jesus?" Our reaction is the same as those who heard this in person, "Who then can be saved?"

02 February 2015

Jesus Blesses Children And Those Who Brought Them

Unknown Source
Mark 10:13-16

One clear fruit of following Jesus is the ability to worship with, share with, work with people of different economic status, skin colour, nationality, language, gender, marital status, abilities, personalities, talents, gifts, backgrounds, careers, intelligence and age. For some of us, some of the things that are listed seem silly to even have to discuss, ie. skin colour? really?, while others are quite challenging to navigate, ie language or personalities.

The challenging thing is that we are currently living in a transitional age. We are currently living in a we are almost there but not yet status in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus has come. Jesus has provided the bridge between us and our Father in heaven. But, he has not returned to make all things new yet. And so, it is quite reasonable to say that the church, the bride and body of Christ, is in her adolescent stage. We know what it is to be mature; we know what it looks like to be an adult in the kingdom of heaven (Jesus), but we still lack the wisdom and experience to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.

The church, therefore, at times looks quite awkward in living out what we are led to believe through the Word, following the Son while being led by the Spirit. In this case, to believe that all people are created equal because all people are made in the image of God. We are still transitioning from a world that creates artificial divisions to a kingdom that only makes one distinction: those who know the One, True God and the One He has sent and those who do not know the One, True God and the One He has sent.

And, so, as a church member and budding church leader, there are many battles that should be expected as we learn how to worship, share and work together. One battle that I did not expect, that has made me weary is the battle to worship alongside my children. No, I do not battle with my children, but the church.

22 January 2015

Jesus Says It's OK To Be Single

Sisters of Mercy - Calcutta India
Matt 19:1-12

"I don't think that we should be together. And, I've thought about it a lot and this is what's going to happen. OK. I'm going to keep pursuing what I'm pursuing. And, because I'm doing that, it's going to take up more and more of my time and I'm not going to be able to spend as much time with you. And, even when I do spend time with you, I'm going to be thinking about drumming. And, I'm going to be thinking about jazz music and my charts and all that. And because of that, you're going to start to resent me and you're going to tell me to ease up on the drumming and spend more time with you because you're not feeling important. And I'm not going to be able to do that. And, really, I'm going to start resenting you for even asking me to stop drumming and we're going to start hating each other. And, it's going to be, it's going to get very ugly. So, for those reasons, I'd rather just break it off clean." Andrew, Whiplash

If Andrew had said serving/loving God/others instead of drumming, then he would explain what Jesus meant by "there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it."

"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other or he will be devoted to one and despise the other." In this context, Jesus was talking about money. But, I think these wise words can apply to any conflicting interest, including spouse and kingdom.

13 January 2015

Jesus Wants Proper Personal Perspective

The Pharisee and The Publican 
Luke 18:9-14

Every Christian is a sinner saved by grace.  Everyone else is a sinner who has not accepted his grace yet.  If there are any plaques that need to be placed in church, this should be the only one. 

Once again, the Bible is demonstrated not to be unclear on His teaching. We do not have to seek to far to understand what is about to be taught. Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is quite clear, "To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable..."

The beginning of wisdom, the beginning of faith, the beginning of hope, the beginning of love is given by David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, "The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one."  To understand, believe and live this is to have a chance at more perfect, loving relationships with our Father in Heaven and with each other.

05 January 2015

Jesus Wants Us to Keep Praying for Justice

The Parable of the Persistent Widow - Unknown
Luke 18:1-8

"The time is coming where you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man."

Truer words were never spoken.

Why do bad things happen to good people? It's a profound question. It's a stated reason for many people not to believe the Living God. It's a question that the Bible has been asking for thousands of years. One of the reasons I listen to the Bible, that I appreciate God's Word, is it deals with reality. He doesn't flinch from it. He doesn't sugar coat it. He looks it square in the eye and explains how we can wisely live within the reality of our world.

It makes me itchy whenever I hear Western Christians lament that things are getting worse. Really? When one studies history, it does not take very long to read about injustice.