Of Politics and Courage

This morning I read in Matthew 2:3-5 of the interchange with Herod and the priests and teachers regarding the birth of the Messiah and where He was to be born.
What strikes me is this:  These leaders studied the Scripture and they knew, THEY KNEW, that the Messiah was to come and from where He would come.
But there is no evidence they worshiped Him or followed Him.  There is no evidence that as Herod mounted a military campaign to destroy this Messiah they lifted a finger to try to prevent this carnage of the innocents.
Today there is no shortage of ‘priests, preachers, scholars and teachers’ who study the Word of God and who may even be consulted for their knowledge.
But the greater question which is posed by Matthew is this:  What do we do with this knowledge ? Do we have courage to do what is right even when our position or repuation are in question? In the midst of life and all that comes with it our true motives and priorities are challenged by what we do with what we know.
Our world is racing into oblivion.  We are killing each other and our world.  If we know the truth, if we understand the implications of the Scripture and the Gospel, how do we respond when proclaiming that message threatens us, our importance, our position, or our well being?
As we stand in our holy attire, wrapped in a feeling of righteousness because of what we know, are we stading silently to gain the favor of Herod as he inwardly hates all we stand for?
Herod was more concerned with preserving his own power and status and he used religion when it was convenient to him or ignored it when it got in his way.
When it is inconvenient to be known as His follower or if acting and speaking the Truth in Love means loss, do we lose our voice and do our feet and hands cease from obedience to His call?
Do we belong more to Herod and his kin than to the Suffering Messiah?
Lord, I fear that in my comfort with my religion I may be more like these tepid, cowardly followers of Scripture and law that I would like.  If my understanding of Your Way does not cause me to live a life of courage and power then perhaps I may be unknowingly participating in the ‘murder of the innocents’.  God help me, help us to abandon our quiet lives for lives of courage out of love for You.  Amen.

The Self Created God

The Self Created God

Sometimes Christians appear strange to the rest of the world. We are from a different world, in a way. We think outside the cultural box, typically. We are called to be this way. God calls us “a peculiar people for His own possession”. This means that He shapes us in a way that makes us suitable and pleasing to Him. However, this may preclude us from being pleasing to others to some extent. Thus we may find ourselves a bit rejected at times.

In seeking to truly follow Christ, we may have the effect of making those around us uncomfortable. This is because we challenge beliefs that others perhaps hold dear. The problem often occurs when those who follow the true Gospel and the God of this Gospel, encounter others who are following a “self created god”. Believe it or not, you can even find this in churches among those who consider themselves believers! A “self created god” may look a lot like the real thing. But if you look or listen carefully you will note several significant differences. Self created gods are often one dimensional. They may be all about love, but absent of justice. They accept everyone and everything and condemn nothing. There is much talk of heaven but no acknowledgement of hell. In short, self created gods look and sound a lot look the culture we live in! When confronted with the true version of a biblical God those who cling to a self created god often become angry and reject the real thing. And in so doing, they crucify Christ once more.

The True God of the Gospel is not a benign entity. He is a God of power, might, judgement, justice, mercy and yes, of course, love. He is a God who longs for a relationship with us, but desires that we allow ourselves to be conformed to His will. He has expectations of us. There is both a call, and a response required. He is Abba Father. As such he both loves and disciplines his children as any good father would. A self created god is typically absent of one or more of these features. To acknowledge and follow the True God we encounter in the Gospel may put us into conflict with those around us, even within our own church. But to deny Him is far worse. So when you find yourself feeling rejected in seeking to truly follow Christ remember this: Jesus said that as the world treated Him, so they would treat His followers. Should we expect anything different?