I continue to struggle over the impasse between professing Christians who are on opposing sides. Several scriptures came to mind yesterday and this morning as I’ve pondered. One is in Luke 18 where “a certain ruler asked [Jesus] saying Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responded saying, “you know the commandments.” To which the man answered that he had kept the commandments from the time of his youth. Then Jesus told him he lacked one thing, to sell all that he had and give to the poor and then he would have treasure in heaven. Then Jesus said, “come, follow me.” Scripture tells us that upon hearing Jesus’ words, the man was sorrowful.
Considering this exchange, I’m struck by many things. One, the man knew he was lacking though he said he had kept all of the commandments. Another, is that though he cared enough to ask how to inherit eternal life, he was unwilling to meet the requirement. Jesus revealed the man’s heart by getting right to the root cause of the separation that existed between the two of them. The man did not love the Lord above all else.
Jesus stood ready to give the gift of eternal life, but the man was unwilling to exchange his temporary earthly treasure for an eternal heavenly treasure. We see the point of departure…
I often think of our world’s current fascination with political correctness and the intense and hateful reaction to anyone who doesn’t pledge allegiance to the wisdom of the day. It is ugly! I sometimes think of how we are judged and yet accused of being the judgers. I also think of how we find ourselves subject to ridicule and belittling remarks and how acceptable that is to the masses. The demand for respect is dependent on your beliefs and your stance. If you don’t go along with the present day agenda of the majority of those who consider themselves to be enlightened, then by all means, hurl the insults, that is the rule, not the exception…Those who are wise and knowledgable as it is defined in scripture (Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding”) are subject to any number of harsh criticisms including but not limited to ignorance, small-mindedness, and bigotry.
I understand that many people in this world are not Christian. They do not believe the Bible to be a holy text. But for those who are Christian, aren’t we bound to believe? And if so, then can’t we agree?
The Bible is a big book and it takes a long time to work through it. So much continues to be a mystery to me, but by faith and by sight, I believe it to all be true. By sight, the parts of it that were once prophesy and are now history, and by faith, those parts that are beyond the understanding of my finite mind. I’ve grappled with it, wrestled with it, prayed over it, studied and pondered and grown to love it so deeply and so passionately because I truly believe that in it are found the Words of Eternal Life. May we all find it ever so precious! Before we criticize and hurl insults, may we bury our head between the pages and read and ask for understanding, for truth to be alive in us, to inform us, to lead and guide us, to grow us, to humble us, and to transform us into the image of God’s Son. That is the purpose of the few. They long for all to be transformed into the image of God’s Son. The transformation occurs as a result of sanctification, a process, a working of God as He molds us and shapes us, a beautiful, loving yet difficult and sometimes even painful process.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy. Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good. Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” We are also told, “…evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13)
Much of scripture, Old and New Testaments, declare warnings, not because God doesn’t love us, but because He does love us and desires for us to honor Him and receive His blessings. Isaiah 5:20-24 offers just such a warning, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! Therefore as the fire devours the stubble, and the flame consumes the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised The Word of the Holy One of Israel.”
Now then, after sharing all of this from a troubled and burdened heart, I want to add one more bit of my own personal story. As one who has suffered the ravages of sin as a result of my own free choice and found repentance through the shedding of regretful and bitter tears, I long for others to live all their days in honor to God above. He alone is worthy of all our praise, of our wholehearted and unwavering devotion. If I could reach only one heart and bid him/her to abstain from sin, it would be worth every effort requiring every ounce of my strength. I say again, it is out of love for them that I plead!
One of those great mysteries that remains for me is why the Lord would have chosen to have mercy on a wretch such as me, yet His Word answers from Exodus 33 all the way to Romans 9:15 “…I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” Praise be to His Holy Name for His great mercy that He has given to me. May all my days be lived to call others to His side that they may know the richness and the abounding greatness of His lovingkindness forever.