Thursday, November 12, 2020

Little Christs?

Recently I read the following: “Rather than putting ‘Christ’ back in ‘Christmas,’ I’d settle for putting ‘Christ’ back in ‘Christians.’” That was a humbling rebuke. 

But I imagine that many Christians who read this will want to quickly defend themselves and their friends. But as I have reflected on this simple statement my thoughts have been more in line with David’s response to Shimei in 2 Samuel 16. When Shimei rebukes David with cursing, David says in essence, “Maybe the LORD has sent him.”

And indeed, maybe the LORD has sent a rebuke to Christians in this simple statement. 

The Bible tells us that the followers of Christ were first called Christian at Antioch. We were called Christian because we were “Little Christs.” We were the representatives of Christ to the world. And Christians lived as Christ lived. Christians responded to others as Christ responded to others.

Jesus, who turned the other cheek when insulted, taught His followers to likewise turn the other cheek when insulted. And the early followers of Christ did just that.  

Jesus, who was meek and mild, taught His followers also to be meek and mild. And the early followers of Christ were.

Jesus, who was insulted Himself, taught His followers not to return insult for insult, but to return a blessing instead. And the early followers of Christ did just that.

Jesus, who was the embodiment of love, taught His followers to love their enemies and to pray for those who hated them. And the early followers of Christ did.

None of us are perfect. That’s why we need a Savior. And yet, those of us who have come to the Savior, need to remember that we are now ambassadors for Christ. And there is an unbelieving world watching us to see if what we say we believe impacts the way we live.

May each Christian represent the Savior well so that we would be worthy of the name.



Thursday, October 15, 2020

A Description of Ungodliness

As the people of God we often use labels and short-hand expressions for many aspects of our faith. Of course labels and short-hand expressions are not unique to the church. Every field or discipline has them.

Within the church we often talk of the ungodly. Or we talk about those who are wicked. But what does it mean to be ungodly or wicked? Psalm 10 gives us a description of the ungodly.

One of the most striking feature of the ungodly is pride. The psalmist says, “In pride the wicked hotly purse the afflicted” (Psalm 10:2). The ungodly are proud. But the Lord is opposed to the proud. The Lord gives grace to the humble.

In addition to being proud, the ungodly pursue the afflicted. The ungodly has a tendency to push down the poor. The ungodly is willing to kick the afflicted when he is already down.

In addition to being proud and abusive, the ungodly is a braggart. The psalmist says, “For the wicked boats of his heart’s desire” (Psalm 10:3). The ungodly is a boaster. This person is always the best at all that he does. This person is always playing the one-upmanship approach to life. Tell a story and the braggart has a better one.

In addition to being a proud, abusive braggart, the ungodly is greedy. This is the individual who wants more. He desires more. Covetousness is the darling sin, or one of the darling sins, of the ungodly. And its also one of the most difficult sins to address through church discipline.

Furthermore, the ungodly spurns the LORD. This individual will not seek the LORD. He sees no reason to seek the LORD. The ungodly is already the best at anything that is attempted. And so there is no need for help from anyone. There is no need for help from God.

In addition, the ungodly is vile in his or her speech. “His mouth is full of curses and deceit and oppression; Under his tongue is mischief and wickedness” (Psalm 10:7). The words of the ungodly are destructive. Divisive. Abusive. Acidic. There is not just a little evil here. His mouth is FULL of curses, deceit, and oppression.

And ultimately, the ungodly is violent. What he devises in his heart, what he says with his mouth, when the opportunity arises, then he will do those things with his actions.  The ungodly lurks or lies in wait to be violent.

Having walked through this description of the ungodly, it is important to ask the Holy Spirit now to search our hearts. How many of these descriptions are found within us? I know it is more comfortable to look at the people around us. But the call of the gospel is to look within. And when we find these things in our hearts, then we need to repent of our sins and ask God to forgive us.



Thursday, October 8, 2020

Watch Your Words

 

In just a few days the hearings for the recently nominated Supreme Court Justice will begin.  And if there is anything I could plead with my fellow Americans, it would be this: Watch Your Words! 

In this process it is important to ask questions.  It is important to probe the character of the nominee.  It is important to seek to discern whether or not this individual is competent for the task at hand.  And I think that all of those things can be done with civility. 

The other day I saw a picture of Amy Coney Barrett’s family.  And my heart broke because of what these children will soon be hearing.  Already unkind and unnecessary words have been said about her family and her motivation to adopt her children. 

And so I plead, remember the children and watch your words. 

I am a pastor.  I have many acquaintances in the ministry.  Pastoring a local church is rewarding and often filled with joy.  But sometimes people disagree with the pastor.  And too often the way that disagreement is expressed damages the pastor’s family – especially the pastor’s kids. 

Sometimes people who are otherwise loving, kind and supportive act and talk in ways that are less than loving or kind or supportive.  Sometimes people who are well-respected in their communities are vicious and mean to their church leaders.  And sometimes those things are done and said publically in front of the children. 

And so many pastor’s kids grow up not trusting or loving the church.  And sometimes because of the hateful words that were said about their parents, those kids grow up hating the gospel. 

And so, I plead with you, remember the children and watch your words.  

Installing the correct Supreme Court Justice is a big task.  It’s an important task.  And not destroying a family in the process is an equally huge task. 

And so I plead once more: Watch your words!