Monday, February 22, 2010
I've had people tell me that I don't have a strong Mississippi accent. That seems unusual. The first half of my life was lived in Mississippi and Alabama. There was a short, short move to Oregon when I was 6 months old, but I don't think my accent changed there. When I think about the question, "Why doe s he talk like that," I picture an eight year old Mississippi boy hearing a Bostonian for the first time in his life." "Why does talk like that?"
The Pharisees were not concerned with Jesus' accent. It wasn't the way he said, forgive." Their concern was that he said he could do it! "Why does he talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?"
Why does he talk like that? Jesus says the things he does because he has the authority! He's got the power! He proved that he has the power by telling the paralytic to get up and walk. Actually, to be precise, he proved that he has the power because when he told the paralytic to walk, the man did!
When the man walked out in full view of everybody, the people were amazed. They said, "We've never seen anything like this!" Mark tells us this story, because he wants to be amazed at Jesus. We didn't see the paralytic walk, but, no doubt, we can still say with the people, "We've never seen anything like this?"
Is there a counter-cultural teaching of Jesus that Mark would include right after a miracle like this if he were writing just to you? What amazing teaching of Jesus would be important for you to hear right you were amazed at the way Jesus spoke and the way he healed the paralytic?
Would Mark try to show you that people are more important than rules to God? Is there a need for you understand that message about Jesus being accessible to sinners because they really know they have to have him? Would he tell you to let your light shine and be courageous in faith? Would he tell you to commit to your marriage? Do you need to be amazed at his teaching about the dangers of loving money or how real leaders serve?
Jesus has spoken about your life! What amazing teaching do you need to take into your heart right now? That's Life at Work!
Thursday, February 18, 2010
He was a devout believer. He was saved by God's mercy. He had eternal life because of his faith in Christ Jesus.
He was a loving husband, a dedicated deacon with an evangelistic fervor. He passed his faith to his children. His wife was strong in faith, too; largely because of his spiritual leadership in the home.
And then an unbeliever at work asked him a question. It was a difficult question with philosophical and theological crossings. The devout believer knew there had to be a good answer, but he didn't know it immediately. He was an engineer. He spent 50 hours a week at a nuclear plant, so he did what most of us do when we need an answer to a question like that; he asked someone who he thought would have studied the issue. But he wasn't taken seriously; and the answer he received was puny. It didn't make sense to him and it sure wasn't going to make sense the unbeliever.
As the unbeliever half-heartedly delivered the puny answer, he was asked another difficult question – and another, and another, and another. Over a number of months, as he tried to discover for himself answers to questions and as he was offered measly answers from others who didn't understand the importance of moment; the believer's faith weakened. To make a long story sad, ultimately he didn't believe at all.
The experience of the readers of John's first letter was different from mine – to state the obvious. But even regarding those who leave, there is a difference.
The readers of 1 John could name people who had left their community of faith. They left because they had never believed. They denied that Jesus had come in the flesh. They had never bought into the truth of "the Word became flesh and lived for a while among us" (1 John 1:14). And to be honest, Jesus was quite clear, "If you don't believe I Am, you will die in your sins" (John 8:24). Those who didn't believe that Jesus was God incarnate left, and John says about them, "They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us" (1 John 2:19). His declaration about them not ever really belonging is about this situation where these anti-christs who left had never believed the truth about Jesus, so they were never really one of his disciples; they were still in their sin.
Most of the people I've seen leave the community of believers have been people who had believed, and were saved; but had lost their faith, lost hope, and forfeited their eternal life because they gave up the faith by which we are saved.
Either way, spiritual tragedy is the result
I've thought about these realities as I've thought about this story and 1 John over the years:
- There are faith-building answers to your questions that you can pursue and discover.
- Jesus really was God in the flesh and you must believe that to be saved.
- True believers can lose their faith.
- We have to take all questions seriously.
- Untruths can sound convincing.
- We have to be on our guard for our sakes, and the sake of others.
That's Life at Work!
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
You turn things upside down,
as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!
Shall what is formed say to him who formed it,
"He did not make me"?
Can the pot say of the potter,
"He knows nothing"? (Isa 29:16)
Isaiah got two important messages across to the people of Judah in this short comment about a relationship with God:
- You can't make God what you want him to be. You can't turn things around claiming that he didn't form you; instead, you formed him. He is the original. You may form something that you worship as if it were God, but it won't be God. God Almighty existed before the world and he'll be ruling after you're dead.
- If anybody perishes because they don't get it, it won't be God; it will be people.
And the best thing about this potter is that he loves his creation! He's not a tyrant out to destroy you. He is your creator, he understands everything, and he is your Father! That's Life at Work!
Friday, February 05, 2010
Some things are so obvious, they don't have to be said; they just have to be shown. You can pass by the magazine stands at the book store or watch the TV and know that Taylor Swift is famous. She wouldn't have to tell you she was famous if you met her on the street in Nashville.
He had leprosy. There was no hiding that. And since he had it, when it was miraculously gone, there was no hiding that, either. Jesus told him, "See that you don't tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them" (Mark 1:44).
A healing speaks a thousand words! The priests would be challenged to believe because the unclean man could quit coming to see them. Jesus touched him, and removed his disease. What does that say about Jesus?
What does it say to you? That's Life at Work!