Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Judge not, that you be judged ...

This passage, so often misapplied by believers and unbelievers alike, must be understood within the context of where it came from - the so-called Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was speaking specifically to His closest disciples in this sermon, laying out for them how they were to act when He was bodily gone.
Thousands of others heard the sermon, too, but did not have the connection with Jesus that His closest disciples did.
The verse at issue seems to me the fullest expression of what is called by believers and unbelievers alike the Golden Rule, which is spoken by Jesus a few verses later in Matthew Chapter 7. But it is so often used by unbelievers to judge believers' actions as Christians, to call down the label of hypocrite - and used meanly by believers on each other as a hickory accountability stick.
Only when verse 1 is cited/read in conjuction with verses 2-14, does its deeper meaning appear: settle your own spiritual affairs with understanding and obedience to the Father before dealing with those of fellow believers.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Clean clothes

The prophet Zechariah had a vision of Joshua, dressed in filthy clothes, standing before the Father for judgment, with Satan at Joshua's right side ready to recite all of Joshua's sins. This is the same Joshua who was the Father's great general, chosen to lead the Hebrews into Canaan to take the promised land. This is the same Joshua who nevertheless sinned like you and I sin.
A crowd was there, waiting for instructions from the angel of the Lord. The instructions were these: "Remove the filthy garments from him." And to Joshua the he angel of the Lord said, "Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments."
How I long for those sun-dried clothes, made soft by the purest breeze ...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Father needs no house

I read 1 Samuel, chapters 3 and 4 today, about the calling of Samuel to the ministry, the capture of the ark, and the death of Eli, all important events in the life of the Hebrews and their relationship with the Father. I had read this passage many times before. Today, the passage spoke to me.
Consider this: Father God let the Phillistines crush the Hebrews, and take the ark of the covenant.
Sure, it was to punish a largely faithless people, and to punish Eli and his family for letting his sons corrupt the temple and the priesthood. The Hebrews, in their faithless desperation, used the ark as a totem, an idol, by bringing it to the battle with Phillistines, hoping it would turn the battle their way.
Yet the Father let the ark be captured, rather than be used as a wood-and-gold idol. He would not let his chosen people spiritually confine Him to a box, even a box built according to His very own plans.
What does this say to us today? That our church structures and campuses cannot hold Him, that any single church community cannot keep Him on a leash, that church traditions and liturgies have no hold on Him.
He wants our hearts, not our buildings, not our pews, not our playgrounds and gyms, not our vans and buses, not our altars and lecterns, not our Power Points, not our hymnals and songbooks, not our pianos and organs and guitars, not our annual budgets.
I have to wonder: what would we believers do if all of our arks disappeared today?
Would you cower in your entertainment room in the basement?
Or would you shout hallelujah, for another set of shackles had fallen away?