October 24, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“The crafty and alluring serpent said to Eve, ‘God didn’t really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden, right?” (Genesis 3.1))
This is the way Satan the Accuser, the cast out from heaven and fallen Lucifer, works in the world (the community of humankind). In today’s language we would hear “JK!” We wouldn’t hear it until after there was a response to the query, poser and invitation to temptation presented by Satan, however. The Devil doesn’t stop short to prevent us from being hurt physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, financially, practically or spiritually. The intent of Satan is to confuse, diffuse and refuse; and that’s no joke!
Very recently, I questioned someone about a post they had made which said, “Women are angels and when someone breaks our wings we simply continue to fly on a broomstick…we’re flexible like that.” My question was “So you are saying ‘witches are angels’ or ‘it is okay for angels to be witches’ or ‘the use of magic to escape worldly limitations is okay’?” Of course, the response I got was “Lighten up, it’s just a joke.” In order words, “JK- just kidding.” But, as mighty ones of God can we afford to waste our time, energy, effort and spiritual intellect on such things which are, in essence, making a mockery of our faith witness in the Word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ? Do we actually believe that such “joking” has no bearing on the course of thinking of others, including our own integrity and fortitude? Paul warns those communities of faith in which he had invested his ministry to be alert to what you say and do in the presence of “weaker” brothers and sisters. He, of course, did not mean physically weaker. Nor did he assume the common vernacular of “women as the weaker gender.” What he was speaking to were those whose faith still bordered on falling in the direction of siding with the world system over and against the kingdom system. Honestly, how many of us are still enjoying the diet of milk when it comes to building up our spiritual lives “twelve ways.” Yes, I know that is an allusion to a past used promotion for “Wonder Bread” but it can apply here to building up the body of Christ in “twelve ways.” What would those “twelve ways” be? Consider the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments or Rules of Righteousness, as well as the prerequisite “Greatest Commandments” of which there are two: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and MIND; and your neighbor as you yourself are loved. No kidding! Those are not optional ways of living. Jesus declared that He did not come to destroy, cast off nor eliminate The Law and the Prophets but to fulfill them. He did not mean that once he lived them perfectly in the course of human life they were no longer needed or effective. These were not goals to be achieved as if there were goals beyond them. They were never intended for “good try.” The Law of God’s design was intended to lead, guide and direct our thoughts and actions on the paths of righteousness. To what end? I am glad you asked, even though you probably didn’t. But, now that I have asked the question, I hope that you are wondering what the answer would be. What did Jesus mean when He said “I have come to fulfill them”?
Well honestly, let me say that “JC wasn’t JK.” He was serious when He declared His purpose was to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. He was speaking of living out the very thrust of those words given by God. They were given to lead people back to God. They challenged the heart, mind soul and strength of the created to pursue living into the image in which they were created. And get this. God wasn’t kidding. To settle for less than our best in this endeavor is the issue. What is not the issue is how our singular inability as a person and a people to reach this goal may fall short. Remember that phrase “Better to have loved and lost than to not love at all”? Yes, such outpouring of our efforts to establish a loving relationship with a “significant other” and have it fall short of reaching the goal of a lifelong journey is hard. It is heartbreaking. But, to never exert the effort of trust, hope, faith for the sake of loving and being loved, while it may keep you from experiencing the broken heart and crushed dreams, also eliminates any and all possibility of knowing such love. And we are given privileged information as to God’s thought on this matter from the most favored verse in the Bible, John 3.16, “For God so loved the world that He surrendered His Son to His created people knowing that all who would believe in Him as Lord and Savior would not perish in hell’s eternal death and separation from love but enjoy the fullness and favor of being loved as could never be known on earth unless Heaven came down to it.” NO KIDDING! When Jesus set His heart, soul, mind and strength of fulfilling the Law and the Prophets it was not to destroy them, say they were impossible tasks and thus optional in our decision-making process to declare what “being a mighty one of God was and is and will be.” What Jesus had in mind was the destruction of death’s claim on those whom God loved, those who called on Him by name and lived according to His purposes to the very best of their ability. Not to live, mind you, according to “The Rule of JK” but according to “The Praxis of JC.” Another word for that is discipleship.
As His disciples and mighty ones of God, our purpose is to reflect the image of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit on earth as we will in Heaven. Our activity in Heaven is not baselined by our activity on earth. It is the other way around knowing that we are living on earth, or attempting to do so, as we will live in Heaven. And what life is that? Is it not to be totally devoted to praising, worshiping and glorifying God with our words and deeds? We will have no need to please ourselves or others when the Good Shepherd will have fulfilled our very every need, want and desire: to live in the fullness of God’s mercy and grace, joy and love, peace and …. what else can there be than that? Let’s be honest with others and ourselves. It’s no joke, bottom line, this is what we truly want to have as our earthly lives, right? But, we dare to walk with our toes crossing the line of living according to the world’s standards and continuing to look over to Heaven. We will lose our step or cause someone else to lose their step and then, in the words of Jesus, “It would be better to have a millstone tied around our neck and be cast of the side of the boat into deep water.” Yep, if you heard the life of Job in that aside, you heard correctly. Job lived a life of “JK.” And because of it, he missed the whole point of God’s mercy and grace for himself as well as for others. Is that the kind of life we would choose for ourselves, our families, our neighbors, the next generation(s)? Let’s not kid ourselves. Our words and witness are like rocks thrown into the pond creating ripples that are beyond our control. In the words of Soren Kierkegaard, “One cannot pluck up a daisy without pulling down a star.” Isn’t it time we fulfill our image and destiny by promoting the kingdom of God and finding our true joy in that instead of worrying about pleasing the world that can never be pleased? What is the best use of our life’s resources? Isn’t it for the glory of God who loves us beyond measure and wants us to be loved forever in His presence because we choose Him before all others?
Father, forgive us when we have chosen to compromise Your love for us and through us to others in order to please the world. What does it profit a person to gain the affection of the world by surrendering the affection of God in Heaven made known to us perfectly in Jesus the Christ? Thank You for standing by our side and strengthening us, even with admonitions, so that we choose whom we shall serve wisely and not jokingly. AMEN.