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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Some "Light" Reading

Okay, so the subject was sarcastic. Chapter 7 is definitely not light reading. Jesus never said anything lightly...

This next part is a struggle for me (maybe you've noticed I say that about almost all of it!) because it talks about judging others. Who am I that I think, even for a second, that I can have a judgemental thought about someone else??? I am just as flawed as anyone-maybe "more" than some...and yet I still have negative thoughts about people. Even people I don't even know! Who do I think I am that I can look at someone for a second and make a determination about who they are, what they believe, and what kind of person they are just by looking at or listening to them???

Matthew 7:3-5: "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother,'let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

Wow. I am so guilty of that. It's easy to justify when we watch a show like Springer and see the absolute end of the spectrum for bad choices and questionable ethics, but I do it even with people I know. People I love. Isn't that nuts? What makes me think I am so much better or better suited to make judgement calls about someone else's life or choices? Hmmm...

I think it's important to say here that I don't believe that judging someone is the same as correcting or rebuking in love. I don't think that being nonjudgmental means that we smile politely and sit on our hands when we see poeple breaking God's law-especially those who do it and thumb their noses at God while doing it. I don't hold to a belief that "tolerance" means that you live your life and I'll live mine and never shall we speak an ill word about each other's choices, thank you very much. I feel like that word has gotten so overused and misused to mean that everyone should be able to do whatever they want and no one is allowed to hold an opinion against it. Um..I think that's called anarchy. By correcting or rebuking in love, it's not saying, "you are a bad person and you're going straight to hell!" it's saying, "you've veered off course and this is why I say that" and have scripture to back up what you are saying-and most importantly-saying it because you love them and care about them. It's like being a teacher. A teacher has to correct students' work and tell them when they've done something wrong. Jusging would be if the teacher said, "you're a horrible student and you'll never amount to anything because you're so stupid!" I hope the difference between the two is obvious.

And...moving on...verse 6 is interesting because I don't see the tie-in to the previous chapters, but maybe someone else can help me with that... "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do , they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you in to pieces." I have heard before that this may mean sharing the gospel with others who are argumentative, inflammatory and have absolutely no interest in hearing it. While it's important to share the Word with everyone, sometimes it is like banging your head against the wall...they simply are not open to hearing it. Any thoughts on this?

Chapters 7 & 8 always make me think of a song we used to sing at church whenI was a teen. Ask, seek, knock. Jesus said that for all who ask, it will be given to them. For all who seek, they will find, and to all those who knock, the door will be opened. Maybe the arrangement of the words means something...Ask (most start by asking questions about God) and that naturally leads to seeking answers. Then, they knock on the door to come into the family of believers. That section closes by saying that if we know how to give the right or good things to others or our children, how much better does God give to us? Then...The Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. My Bible has a neat note about the Golden Rule, "Other religions (Judism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism) had some form of this saying, but most were stated negatively: "Don't do to others what you wouldn't want then to do to you." Jesus' version is far more open-ended and challenging."

The Narrow and Wide Gates: This is a tough pill to swallow. It addresses the notion that so many think if they are 'good people' and live 'good lives' or go to church every Sunday or even sing in the choir and offer tithes that they are safe and will be welcomed into Heaven with open arms. Not so much, Jesus says. "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

heard a statistic that 85% of Americans say they are Christian. Really? That doesn't compute when there is so much going on in our country that is NOT Christian. I could list so many things that are being legislated right now that are clearly not of God. It's frustrating to hear someone say they are Christian, but they rarely (if ever) crack open a Bible to see what God actually says about the beliefs they hold and the stances they take. I could easily take off an a tirade here, so I will move on...

This next part goes into further detail about those who think they will get into Heaven by saying they are Christians, but their hearts don't reflect that. It's sad.

verse 21 says, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!"

I never knew you..." Those would probably be the worst words to hear in my life. I think of an analogy using the president, although I am not his biggest fan...but he's someone with a lot of authority and everyone knows who he is. Just because someone wore campaign buttons and rallied for him...even if they stood in the rain and snow with "Obama 4 Pres" signs and told everyone they know to vote for him, if they were to show up at the innaugural ball, Obama is going to say, "Who are you?" I'm sure they won't be ushered in on the red carpet. Even if they say, "But, President Obama, we campaigned for you, picketed for you. We facebooked to all of our thousands of friends that you should be president and converted McCain supporters to be your supporters...surely we can come in and celebrate with you since you won the election!" What do you think will happen? I bet you instead of a ball with filet and champagne, they will be eating burgers at McDonalds that night. Doing things for someone and saying you support them, even publicly, is not the same as having a relationship with them.

This chapter closes by talking about the wise and foolish builder. In paraphrase, who ever hears God's word and chooses to ignore it and goes about their business living a life according to what they think is right is like the guy who builds his house on the sand. It make be okay for a time, but as soon as the tide comes in and the waves kick up, the house will fall. It's just like that for believers. If we hear the Word and still choose to have beliefs and make choices that don't align with that...our lives don't have foundation. We will crumble as soon as the first wave starts building.

My dream is that my whole family and friend circle would come to know Jesus like a friend. Not just read the Bible and go to church-really know Him. I'm so sad to know that so many people I know and love don't even know what's in the Bible let alone live it or share it with someone else. Some think that their actions will get thm into Heaven. There's actually only one "action" that will get you an invitation to the ball...the action of accepting that Jesus died for us because we can't do it ourselves. We will never be good enough to get there on our own.

Wow. That sounded like such a downer way to end this. But it isn't!! The good news is that we don't have to do a darn thing! Just accept it and say thank you!! That's actually really good news. There's a great song by...you guessed it!...Casting Crowns called In Me. It talks about doing what God asks and knowing that He doesn't need us to do it, but He wasnts us to. He's chosen us. Love this line;

How refreshing to know You don't need me,
How amazing to know that You want me.
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