Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Keeping them from Faith

Elymas was not interested in following the way of faith. That’s not really a surprise, I don’t guess. I thought of a few things that might have turned Elymas off. For instance, he probably knew that the faith that Paul and Silas professed stood in opposition to his false prophecy and trickery. If, in fact, his relationship with Sergius Paulus was his way of lining his pockets, he had to choose between God and money. He wouldn’t have been the first to choose money. Maybe Elymas had some kind of warped idea that despite his false prophecies and his sorcery, he was still a Jew in good standing, and he opposed Paul in defense of the Old Law. Don’t laugh, there were several times in Jewish history that the Israelites had an “I’ll break it, but don’t you knock it” attitude. Maybe Elymas, whose father was named Jesus, had a crummy childhood and swore he would never follow anybody named Jesus again.

There are hundreds of reasons why some choose to avoid the Way. But Elymas didn’t just shun faith himself, he tried to keep Sergius Paulus from faith. The Pharisees tried to keep people from believing in Jesus, too. Jesus told a gathering of the hypocrites, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to” (Matt 23:13; NIV). Similarly, Jesus warned, “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come” (Matt 18:7; NIV)

Some of you have friends who have mentioned an interest in spiritual things, but you’ve deliberately changed the subject. Maybe your adult son told you he was going to take his family to church, and you asked him to go fishing with you on Sunday morning claiming it was the only time you could go. Has your daughter ever asked you to take her to Bible School on Sunday morning and you slept in instead? Have you ever tried to convince a buddy that laughing with the sinners is better than crying with the saints?

Twice Jesus gave a “woe warning” about influencing people away from faith and righteousness. Don’t ignore the warning. He knows people will reject him, but he has special plans for the hellbound who are hellbent on convincing others to go with them. That’s Life at Work.

1 comment:

JD said...

More Questions...some similar to yours, Richard...maybe a different twist:

Have you ever kept quiet while a friend expressed their faith in a false system that you KNOW is false, but you just figured they wouldn't be open to it?

Have you ever had some friends that you didn't want to become religious because you enjoyed the sin that you were sharing in with them?

Have you ever decided NOT to hang out with some church people? It wasn't because you thought you should be out spreading the Good News ... but because you didn't want to be associated with "church people"?

Have you ever been afraid to wear your JESUS t-shirt because it might shock your friends?

Have you ever behaved badly when at a convention with workmates ... thus testifying to them that your Christianity is skin deep?

Have you ever said "I do not know the man"?

Just some further thoughts. I think your message Sunday is going to be a tough one to hear, but a needed one.