May 25, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day He was taken up to Heaven. This He did after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles [formerly disciples] He had chosen.” (Acts 1. 1-2)
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12.11-12)
“Jesus called for those who were bringing children for Him to bless to step forward rebuking His disciples in one breath, ‘Suffer the little children to come to me; forbid them not as for such as these is the Kingdom of God.’” (Luke 18.16)
It would be remiss of me to not take this moment of reflection and cover the recent events, especially the most recent yesterday in Uvalde, Texas, with the blessing of God’s Holy Spirit. Such tragedy is unspeakable and sadly becomes fodder for those who love to speak and hear the sound of their own voice. I shudder to think how politicians and pundits of modern “woke-ism” continue their desire to delude the public into believing politics, rules, regulations and biased media can solve the world’s ills. If there is anything of value in the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic/endemic it may be this: the facades are coming down and we are seeing the tragedy of the broken world in all its fullness. The story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” comes to mind. Not until a little boy unashamedly and unafraid, some might say naive, spoke out what everyone else thinking was the truth of the situation acknowledged. The leadership is fully exposed. Those who sought to “dress up” the leadership for their own gain have little to hide behind. I do not wish to get into the socio-economic politico of the United States of America in particular or the world in general. Doing so can far too easily distract us from the bare truth. We are in a mess. There is nothing to hide behind to keep it from rolling from border to border and coast to coast until everyone is flattened. Or should I say, respectfully, “laid out flat.”
While many may believe they are building a “better” America, or world, and digging in or down to establish a “firm” foundation, I dare say that graves are being dug instead. And, they are digging in shifting sand. And they are using the youngest generations to do the digging. Mighty ones of God, there is “good” reason why faith and belief in God is being mocked, threatened and disputed. Without the uncompromised and uncompromising Word of the Living God in scripture and in living witness available, evil runs rampant. Death, not life, becomes the “order of the day.” Chaos is empowered, enabled and invoked. Those who crave power exert it over those from whom the power was given. The last time I looked, this nation was intended to be “a government of the people, for the people and by the people.” I am watching as it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy as “anyone” believes they can be a politician. They have traded their personhood for politics. They have decided “my way or the highway.” They have taken matters into their own hands and do so without clear understanding and definite standing. That clear understanding and definite standing comes from the Word of God which guided the Founding Fathers to form what was once a great nation. Does scripture not warn us about disrespecting our “fathers and mothers”? I know it is a stretch to make this connection, but if the Word says “Honor your mother and your father and it will be well for you in the days to come” and we dishonor the legacy of the Founding Fathers, won’t we get “unwellness” in the days to come? Has that day come?
So, I fall back into the Word of God as the only hope for some semblance of sanity and healing in the midst of the outrageous chaos. Our hope cannot be built on anything less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. One day, as Jesus was teaching, mothers and fathers and caregivers brought children for whom they were responsible to Him to be blessed. This was not one of those “kiss the baby” kind of opportunities. This blessing was for healing, teaching, inspiring, empowering, encouraging, establishing and most of all for salvation. I can say this because of Jesus’ teaching rebuke to the disciples which followed. In that rebuke Jesus taught “for to such belongs the Kingdom of God.” Jesus’ words were two-fold. First, He used a word in Aramaic “to bring” which is more closely understood in the King James Version with full impact- SUFFER. He didn’t mean “only the suffering.” He wasn’t saying “let them suffer.” He was speaking to the disciples to make all effort and sacrifice what was necessary in themselves to bring the children and their caregivers to Him. It was an understanding of “suffering” as Jesus would suffer on the cross. It was speaking of sacrifice as in respect for God and in love for one another. Jesus would later define it as a new command to go along with those which God had already given: “Love one another.” Sadly, it seems that we live in a “world” where children seem dispensable and unnecessary. They are objects of control, rage and some financial convenience as long as they don’t cost us too much. They are moved into the gray area I mentioned yesterday. Yesterday’s event in Uvalde, Texas, was not a gray event. It was “cut and dried.” I would say “black and white” but we seem to have lost our “color” sense and suffer greatly for it. At what expense? In the moment, that expense is 19 children, 2 teachers and the well-being of a community and community-at-large so connected as caregivers whether they are family, friends or empathizers/sympathizers. It is a price too great. It is a replication, in my way of thinking, of “sacrifices made to Molech.” It is also the expense of one life so motivated by the spirit of evil that such a crime as that could be committed. In that sorrow, I see the fate of Judas of Kerioth who put a child of God, the Son of God, in harm’s way which led to death. Jesus suffered so that we might have life to give life. That life wasn’t just any life, it was a Godly life that leads to the eternal fruit of the Spirit. In the midst of such sorrow, I pray for God’s blessing to rule and reign.
But, there is a second aspect I hear in Jesus’ teaching that day. Jesus urged the disciples to not hold them back but make a straight path for them to come to Him. When I phrase it that way, do you not hear the words of John the Baptizer in the wilderness crying out in the voice of Isaiah, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight paths for Him”? The Kingdom of God belongs to all those who seek the blessing of Jesus in His life, by His death and with His resurrection. The disciples vision was still too limited. They still only saw “in the moment” and by convenience to themselves. Yes, they would have said, “We are looking out for You, Lord, and to keep your environment free from distraction,” but they were truly thinking about themselves and “how much longer will today go on.” We saw it in them with the Feeding of the 20,000. As the day was coming to mid-afternoon, the disciples urged Jesus to send the people away. Their own stomachs were growling. They intimated the people were hungry based on their own understanding. But, in truth, the crowd was never leaving and the disciples knew it would be impossible to feed a crowd which they would have to do if they started eating themselves. How Jesus turned a moment of “suffering” into an opportunity to display the Kingdom truth: bread of life and wine of righteousness. Wherever Jesus is there will always be a mystic sweet communion. The infinite possibilities of meeting the need become available in the Kingdom of God whether it is on earth or in Heaven. So easy for Jesus to pray “Father, Your Kingdom come and Your will be done.” So easy for those without Jesus to prey “My kingdom come, my will be done; what is mine is mine and what is yours is mine, too.” Jesus was teaching the disciples that the righteousness of God and His Kingdom was not merely a place but a lifestyle. It is a truth that each of us as mighty ones of God, Jesus’ disciples, must broadcast openly, unashamedly and with compulsion of the Holy Spirit. We must call it like it is.
What am I suggesting? Only the “law” of God can bring healing and hope to this world in which we live. If the heart, soul, mind and spirit of a people is not turned to God, then all other options will fail. We must pray for one another and promote the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. We must be willing to lay it all on the line for the glory of God and the sake of others. It is time we re-establish ourselves with the scriptural constitution which was given to us when the breath of God was put into us at our “conception.” He alone knows the path we should take and is willing to lead and guide us through the valleys of the shadows of death to reach the vista of light and life. He also knows the paths we can take and seeks to turn us along the way back in the right direction. And in that, we cannot ignore, as the early Church born at Pentecost did not ignore, “they will know you are My disciples when you love one another so much that you would suffer for their welfare, even in the sacrifice of your own life for their eternal hope.”
OUR CALL TO PRAYER:
Father, Abba, as You hear our prayers for the fallen and striken; as You listen to the aching in our heart, soul and mind; we call for the blessing of Your Holy Spirit to comfort and guide us through these times. These are the valleys of the shadow of death but they are not our home. Our home is with You on earth as it is in Heaven. Empower us to take Your Word as the critical voice of reformation and reconciliation and speak the truth in love. We know this world is not forever. We know, too, that we are called to make of this world a better place. Yours is the glory and the design that makes the most sense. We offer ourselves to You so that Your will be done and our will be Yours. In Jesus’ name we pray. AMEN.