GNB 2.67

March 21, 2023


No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Luke 16.13)

For our struggle is not against FLESH AND BLOOD, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6.12)


We may be as familiar with Ephesians 6.13 as we are with Genesis 1.1, Psalm 23.1 and John 3.16. We see the priority of knowing “In the beginning, God….” We feel the comfort of “The Lord is my shepherd….” We embrace the hope of “For God so loved the world….” We are encouraged by “Therefore put on the full armor of God….” The first three verses mentioned are the lead-in to valuable information which follows: the fulfilled plan of creation; the perfection of God’s provision; the clarity of God’s decision to save us from our sins. But, the fourth verse mentioned (actually it was the first verse mentioned) was the follow-up to a stark challenge revealed to all who believed the value of the other three verses; and many more beside. Some are anticipating today another challenge surrounding the future of this once great nation as a former President will be indicted and possibly arrested in Manhattan, New York City, New York. Without question, this particular courthouse has been the focal point of many critical mass events from the bombing of 9/11 to “12 Angry Men.” If I sound a bit dramatic at this point then it is only because we have a penchant for ignoring what seems obvious. Our failure to look into and beneath the testimonies given to us are as dangerous as that revealed in “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” And while there are those who anticipate another “January 6” insurrection in order to provide their agenda regardless of which side one affiliates with, the truth remains that the greater picture is blurred in the midst of the chaos created by those who seek to prosper their agenda at the expense of others. We can build new buildings to replace old ones as we see in response to one tower replacing twin towers. We can remake movies to offer our own twist of the message to promote a far different ideology as we can see in “12 Angry Men.” But, no one can remake or rebuild the truth which is presented in God’s Word though many have tried and will continue to do so for their own purpose of “loving self before others.” I certainly do not claim an ultimate truth and interpretation with my reflections on God’s Word. I do offer a perspective on seeing what is in and behind God’s Word with the hope of challenging those who are “in the faith” and to those who are “coming to faith.” What is that challenge? It is the challenge to be prepared for the future which is coming in this world. We know what is coming over this world as the promise of Jesus to return one day draws closer one day at a time. When that day comes it will be as sudden as a lightning flash and a clap of thunder so close it would blind and deafen us with its proximity.

It happened in the life of Saul of Tarsus. Believing he had a grasp on the “real truth” of the matter in the conflict created with his beloved Pharisaical Judaism by the up and coming “People of the Way,” he was a man on a mission. Validated by both Pharisees and the Sanhedrin, Saul executed with surgical precision the plan to put down the insurrectionst movement led by those who followed the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth whom they called “the Christ.” His job was to “save Judaism from its greatest challenge yet.” His pursuit of “salvation” was literally according to “the Law” and not by grace (or, I would say “the Spirit of grace.) His decision eradicate the enemy was the only plan of action that was left for them all. They had attempted to quell the rebellion by having their leader crucified only to be stymied by the message of His resurrection. Not finding Him after the fact, they tried the persuasion of bondage and beating/stoning His followers only to be stymied by the growing numbers of believers who saw persecution as the opportunity to “take up their cross and follow Him.” So, with paper and sword and a posse of mercenaries, Saul set out to put an end to this whole mess. Then it happened. Jesus came like “a thief in the night” when Saul least expected it in the middle of the day. The power of Jesus’ presence was so distinct that it struck like lightning and thunder right where he was but left everyone else to simply wonder “what in the world is happening here.” What was happening was the transformation of an enemy so loved by Christ (as He taught us we must do) into an ally of the gospel extended to “love one another” (as He taught us we must do.) Saul was struck by the reality that he could not serve two masters successfully. His two masters: God (or at least the Judaism which claimed itself to be the best thing since God) and himself. No one was more equipped to reach out into the world than Saul of Tarsus. His multi-cultural background in life from the physical to the philosophical to the theological to the practical would become his assets for the ministry to which he was called. Saul of Tarsus, whom the Church would soon know as Paul, was a challenge to all worlds on earth. His words, repeated in the Letter to the Ephesians, demonstrated the purposeful vitality which we must emulate in today’s culture and climate. We cannot be so enamored with “putting on the full armor of God” that we forget why we are supposed to “suit up.” Trust me, no bench player is satisfied with sitting on the bench. They accept their role on the team and for the team, limited and specific as it may be. But, to be satisfied with “suiting up” but never getting into the battle zone of competition in real time is the furthest thing from the truth. Mighty ones, we are not created to be satisfied to merely exist and go from moment to moment, day after day until death us do part. We are created with a purpose in mind resourced for our success by the Creator for the conflict which happens daily all around us. A failure to accept that truth is the sentencing of “experiencing the consequence of failing again.”

I was challenged again yesterday by the “theology” of a disenfranchised God. You know the theology. It is the way of thinking about and understanding God as aloof or uncaring. It is espoused by some with the question of “Why do bad things happen to good people?” It is a companion with the question of “Why do good things happen to bad people?” Shall I say it? They are two sides of the same coin? The answer is perhaps more simple than we care to admit. Consider this question instead, “Why do people (anyone) ignore the truth they are not god instead of claiming the truth there is but One God and we are intended to be His people?” Left to the devices of “contrary to the fact,” good and bad things happen which are determined to be good and bad as consequence to our own understanding of what we want personally for our own lives. Jesus warned His disciples of the trouble they would experience in this world because “they were good with Christ.” Those who are “good with Christ” are seen as bad people (and Saul of Tarsus was but one example as someone who thought that) and yet good things happened to them and for them. It happens on a daily basis. Yet all of that pales in comparison to the ultimate reality of a greater conflict at work in and around our lives. It is a conflict of which is truly good and what is truly evil. We have to know that “God does work all things together for the good of His people who live according to His purposes and who are called by His name.” The question is “Who is living according to His purpose?” It cannot be so easily determined as “those to whom good or bad happens.” Good and bad happens to everyone. The question is why does good and bad happen in this world and if bad is not good then why does a good God allow it to happen? To answer that question we must be thoroughly equipped (putting on the full armor of God) and ever mindful of the battlefield on which we are found (on earth as it is in the heavenly realms). We, as mighty ones of God must be aware of “who the enemy truly is” not so that we might defeat them and overcome them but so that we might love them with every opportunity to overcome evil with good. This is the purpose of Jesus’ “to seek and save the lost.” We are God’s agents of mercy to stand against the enemy who will be handled deftly by the will of God manifested in Jesus the Christ and those who trust in Him as if He was indeed the head of their own body. We do not need to be “at war” with ourselves or one another or with God. We need to be “at peace” but it comes with a price of standing for the truth and against the invasion of the enemy. We are not called to attack but defend. Defend the faith, proclaim the gospel, love one another so that they become the neighbor as we are the neighbor whom God loves. We are a challenge to the lie when we stand for the truth as Christ stood for the truth even to the point of willingness to lay down His life for others so that they might live with Him forever in eternity beginning today.


Without Your purpose and presence revealed in love we would continue to dwell in the darkness of doubt and shame and believe it is good. We know there are those in this world who see it exactly this way. We know we are called to be light and salt for them. We know we are called to shepherd and guide them. We know we are to love them and seek to save those for whom the truth seems lost to them. May we accept that we are fully equipped to accomplish Your will today and all the days yet to come. Bless us with the insight of Your Spirit and Your Word today to “love one another.” AMEN.

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