Monday, December 22, 2014

A Thought for Monday 22 December 2014

“Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness.  Foolish ones!  Did not He who made the outside make the inside also?  But rather give alms of such things as you have; then indeed all things are clean to you.  But woe to you Pharisees!  For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and yet pass by justice and the love of God.  These things you ought to have done without leaving the others undone.”  Luke 11:39-42 NKJV

The season of Advent was intended to teach believers to take a good, hard look at where we are in our journey to sanctification and, ultimately, glory.  In preparation for the coming of Messiah, like the Baptizer, the Church calls all to a life of reflection and repentance; and like the Baptizer, the Church should be challenging all believers to “bear fruit worthy of repentance”.  These are the acts of “justice” as expressions of our “love of God” Jesus Himself is referring to.  There is much we can do within the Church itself, such as offering our gifts and our hearts to The Lord in worship and supporting one another in our fellowship, but there is much more to be done outside of the Church; deeds of mercy that prove to our “neighbors” that the love of God is truly within us.

Christians have gotten comfortable with and proficient in insisting that “works” do not have to be done in order to be saved but in such a narrow observation, we miss the point of discipleship altogether.  Like the rich young ruler, we often ask the wrong questions (e.g., “what must I do to be saved?”); rarely do we ask, “What can I do to help?”  We forget that discipleship is never about “me”.  We fail to realize that if our own “ticket to heaven” is all we are concerned about, the “love of God” is not within us.  This means Christ is not in us.  And this means we are not disciples – because we do not care what Jesus has to say about our daily living, and we do not care whether our “neighbor” (or the Church) lives or dies.  It is the difference between a mere changing of the mind (believing) and the radical transformation of the heart (genuine faith).

We must remember that the substance of the Gospel Message changes.  For those who do not believe, The Lord asks only that they be willing to trust Him.  For those who are on board and call themselves disciples of Christ, however, more is expected of us because more has already been entrusted to us.  If such service feels like a burden or an inconvenience to the point that we simply refuse, then, the harsh truth is we are not on board. 

Discipleship is never defined in a single moment by a single event, just as the Bible teaches of the “way”, not the spot, of salvation.  Discipleship is life itself.  It is the Way of Christ Himself.  And it is the difference, to an unbelieving world, in whether or not Christ is even worth following.  And this is our true blessing – for we know He is worth following.  “He has shown you what is good; and what does The Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).



No comments: