September 28, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will a person die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrated His own love for us by this truth: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5.6-8)
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I AM is with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Matthew 28.18-20)
Jesus taught, “No greater love is there than this: a person will lay down their lives for the sake of another.” Then Jesus went out and became the object lesson by taking up His cross and carrying it to Golgotha for the glory of God. He gave up His life for the sake of every person who will ever have lived on this planet that they might never experience the horror of eternal death. It makes me wonder how we are demonstrating our desire to be Christlike in this regard. Are we focused first on their spiritual welfare? Is our desire for their acceptance of the greatest gift ever given our first priority? Does that desire form, shape and deliver our interactions with others so that they can see the glory of God is something to be grasped after? Are we willing to settle for the “great” life when the “good” life is by far the better option? Are our intentions obvious, readable and motivating? Tough questions to reflect upon: short, bittersweet and to the point.
In the current “day and time” when the cry of “….lives matter,” I have yet to see a yard sign, bumper sticker, billboard, t-shirt or media meme that declares “Spiritual lives matter!” Today may be the day because I am going to post that on my Facebook page:
SPIRITUAL LIVES MATTER FIRST!
Our spiritual lives have to matter. It isn’t our blood line, denominational affiliation, politics, theology, social standing, extra-curricular activity, geographic location and the like that truly draws us together and holds us together into one body of people. It is the Spirit and our spiritual promise that does. We are called to be as one people, one royal priesthood of all believers. I can hardly imagine what the world would look like if we all started to worship the One True God on earth as we will in Heaven. If that is our promised reality for eternal life in Heaven, then why are we not pursuing it as our practiced reality while we live here on earth. Strange, is it not, that we feel uplifted, hopeful and moved before, during and after worship but then choose to live a different life apart from that established hour. I understand that it would most certainly look odd if all we said and did was truly in the name of the Lord with the goal of our activity to glorify God and worship Him only in spirit and in truth. What I don’t understand, and I don’t mean the obvious failures to be totally and continually obedient to the call, is to accept being on the outside of the kingdom of God looking in and not think that is odd. At the beginning and the end of Jesus’ ministry, this choice was offered to Him: at the beginning in the wilderness by Satan Himself; at the end on the cross by the servants of Satan themselves. In both instances, Jesus refused the opportunity to look odd. Instead, Jesus chose to look unique. His uniqueness actually exemplifies oneness, wholeness and holiness. I would think that is the “odd” we would all choose as mighty ones of God, disciples of Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, God’s Son and our Savior.
If our spiritual lives don’t matter, then what in any authentic life does matter? Our spiritual lives direct our focus to God, His will and His glory. Our earthly lives direct our focus on human beings, their will and their satisfaction in the flesh. Philosophically, and some even theologically, attempt to justify the human focus as being the authentic God focus. Yet, we know that Jesus did not come to earth to please humanity. Jesus came to earth to save humanity from itself and its desire to surrender to the wiles of the Enemy. Jesus came in obedience to God’s will to save His people as a shepherd who goes into the wilderness to seek and save that which is lost; even one small lamb. Jesus’ obedience to God pleased God and honored God and magnified God. In the same breath and at the same time, it served the true need of humankind to the very spirit of their being. That is why the scribes, Pharisees and teachers of the Law were so vehemently opposed to Jesus. The presence of Jesus was the sounding of the trumpet call to battle not against flesh and blood but against powers, principalities and the spirits of evil and darkness. He was not a garment that could be easily removed and discarded as the priests and rabbis of the day. He was connected to them in the spirit of their existence. His word and works struck to the very core of their being, in their gut, in their soul. He knew it would not get a popular hearing nor gain an acceptable response. But, for Jesus there was no choice but to declare by His ministry that “spiritual life matters first.” If there is no hope for the spirit to commune with the spirit, what David called “deep calling unto deep” (Psalm 42.7), then all we are left with is shallow water that is easily disturbed. It would seem that the world, and will the Church be included in this, is more prepared to accept the dread of the Last Day than the glory of it. We spend more practice time perfecting the dread of life than we do in practicing the good of life which is far beyond the great. Yes, I do have a problem with the title of Jim Collins book Good to Great, but that is another reflection for another day if God wills it. The bottomline is that the pursuit of greatness is a return, by Christ’ perspective, to a baseline reality. He taught, “If any one of you desires to be great then they must become the servant of all; for the first shall be last and the last shall be first.” (ref. Matthew 20.25f) So, mighty ones of God, it would seem to me that we all, including myself, need to practice more serving the spirit of humanity for the glory of God than usurping the spirit of God to glorify humanity. This is our true discipleship!
Father all glorious, let Your Word and Your Work in, of and by the Holy Spirit lead, guide and direct us today as we journey through life to serve Your Will and not that of others. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.