Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Thought for Tuesday 10 February 2015

“If I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.  When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace.  But when one stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils.  He who is not with me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.”  Luke 11:20-23 NKJV

There are few among us who consider ourselves “against” Jesus and the Kingdom of Heaven any more than we would consider that we “despise” The Lord or “abhor” His judgments and statutes (Leviticus 26:15).  That is, we would find it difficult to believe we “hate” The Lord in any way.  Yet when we are challenged by the Scriptures and by the world (and we are!) to show what our love for the Kingdom looks like, that is quite a bit more difficult because Jesus expresses nor offers any “middle ground”.  There is no gray area or third choice when it comes to defining who we are as the people of The Lord, the people of The Church, the very Body of Christ in the world today.

The challenge for us, then, is not to prove we do not “despise” The Lord; rather our sanctification depends upon our willingness, our eagerness to show to the world why Love is worth the trouble. 

Jesus could have very easily faded into the culture and assimilated Himself in such a way that no one would have even noticed Him except to maybe refer to Him as a “good ol’ boy”.  He could have tried to make changes from within very quietly, very moderately, and few would have noticed.  Yet The Word Made Flesh cannot – must not – be so ambivalent.  The very nature of the Gospel itself defies everything we have been socially conditioned and taught to believe; i.e., “just be a good person”.  Unlike the Good News itself, being a “good person” is arbitrary and completely subjective.

So it is not about whether we hate The Lord or simply refrain from committing evil acts (being more mindful of social consequences rather than spiritual ones); it is entirely about whether we love The Lord and are willing to stick our necks out for the sake of the Good News.  Jesus did precisely this while He was being followed and observed so those who would follow would learn and eventually hear that “he who does not gather with Me scatters”.

A quote attributed to Billy Graham pretty much sums up what it means to be a “social” Christian: “We are much more afraid to offend our neighbor than we are to offend The Lord”.  I think, however, that if we are more diligent about what it takes to Love The Lord by “loving our neighbors as ourselves”, we will find our neighbors much more receptive to our “gathering” rather than the world’s “scattering”.

Therefore Jesus asks, “Who is with Me?”  The Church responds, “We are!”  The world will respond, “MYOB (mind your own business)”.



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