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IS This What Christlike Means?

Devotional Thought of the day:
1  Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2  Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. 3  Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4  Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. 5  You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.   Philippians 2:1-5 (NLT)

That is what Jesus Christ teaches us. Mankind awaited the coming of the Savior for centuries. The prophets had announced his coming in a thousand ways. Even in the farthest corners of the earth, where a great part of God’s revelation to men was perhaps lost through sin or ignorance, the longing for God, the desire to be redeemed, had been kept alive.

When the fullness of time comes, no philosophical genius, no Plato or Socrates appears to fulfill the mission of redemption. Nor does a powerful conqueror, another Alexander, take over the earth. Instead a child is born in Bethlehem. He it is who is to redeem the world. But before he speaks he loves with deeds. It is no magic formula he , because he knows that the salvation he offers must pass through human hearts. What does he first do? He laughs and cries and sleeps defenseless, as a baby, though he is God incarnate. And he does this so that we may fall in love with him, so that we may learn to take him in our arms.

We realize once again that this is what Christianity is all about. If a Christian does not love with deeds, he has failed as a Christian, besides failing as a person. You cannot think of others as if they were digits, or rungs on a ladder on which you can rise, or a multitude to be harangued or humiliated, praised or despised, according to circumstances. Be mindful of what others are—and first of all those who are at your side: children of God, with all the dignity that marvelous title entails.  (1)

I have been struggling a lot this week.   Serious, soul wrenching struggle.

I originally thought the struggle was with other men, other men who, like me are called to shepherd the people of God.  I thought my struggle was with them because of actions and words that I have seen that divide the church more.  In one scenario, men are in opposition, not directly, but from bunkers of anonymity.  Both claim this is necessary because of a “fear of reprisal”. They actually both use that phrase, but I am not sure who they are afraid of, each other or some mythical third party?

Part of my angst, my struggle is found in wondering if this is Christ-like, or more specifically, if the adversaries think it is Christlike.  Even though I resonate with one side more than the other, I am repelled by the actions and secrecy of both sects. To be honest, there are days I want to utter a Shakespearean curse, “the pox on both your houses”.

Until I realize my angst is with neither group, my struggle is not in their ethical challenge.  My struggle is with my trust in God, the God whom Joseph had faith, telling his brother that what they meant evil, God used for good.  Or the promises of Paul that all things work for good for those who love God, and nothing can separate us from His love.

As I enter the arena of the discussion between these two sects, it must be with an attitude that Paul describes in the red above. Imitating Christ by being on one mind striving for that in love.  it is too easy to harangue and argue, to be dismissive and even paranoid.  It takes great faith to work for the reconciliation that Christ wants to see in the life of HIs people. If we see that we are reconciled to Him, then er can realize, and only then can we realize, we are brothers and sisters, the family that God loves,

Lord have mercy upon us, and may we love and pray for each other,

AMEN

Escriva, Josemaria. Christ is Passing By (Kindle Locations 1227-1239). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Not Ashamed to Call us Brothers

Not Ashamed… to call us brothers!

Hebrews 2:1–13 (14–18)

 

In Jesus Name

 

As you begin to comprehend that Jesus is not ashamed to call you His brothers and sisters, may you never neglect this news, this message of the cross, and may you realize what it means that we have been brought into His glory!

That first date and that relative…

I think each one us has someone in their past, that was capable of embarrassing us at the drop of the hat.

 

It might have been the over-enthusiastic younger sibling who tried to pretend they were all grown up and equal to you and your friends.

Or that aunt who managed to show up at the wrong moment just in time to share with your first date the cute stories of you early child-hood.  She was trying to make you look cute, but the more she spoke, the more you tried to shrink between the seat cushions.  Maybe it was the obnoxious, boisterous uncle, who wanted to relive his youth with you.

Maybe it is your offspring, or your parents.  As I said, sometime in our life there probably was someone we are ashamed of, embarrassed by, not really happy when they show up
For some of us, it wasn’t that we were embarrassed and shamed when others showed up in our lives, maybe we were the sibling that was dragged along, and were treated like a ball and chain around our older brother’s ankle.  It could have been as we were sharing that important story, well it was important to us, that we finally noticed everyone rolling their eyes…

Being embarrassed by someone, or being the person everyone is ashamed to admit they are related too are simply opposite sides of the same coin. The relationship is invariably fractured, maybe even shattered, as we wonder will they ever change… will we ever change…

As I thought through this passage from the book of Hebrews, there is one phrase that keeps coming back to mind…

 

. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers

 

He is not ashamed to call us brothers…

Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers..

Can you hear Me now?

         

Knowing that truth, that Jesus is NOT afraid to call us His brothers and sisters, is something that I pray we never forget.  It is what the writer of Hebrews is telling us that we need to pay closer attention to – literally to grasp onto for dear life. If we don’t, we will drift away as the cares of the world drag us down stream toward the falls. We have to hear Jesus’ message, to what we hear in this place, and to what we read in the scriptures of the love of the Creator of all, the love of the God who cleanses us and sets us apart for a relationship,

who sets us apart for a relationship with Him!

This epistle, my favorite book of the New Testament makes a great deal of this relationship for which we have been saved.  The relationship we are delivered into, a relationship that is glorious, as it based in the love of God.

This isn’t just the message of a pastor, or even a prophet or apostle, or any other messenger of God, whether human or angelic.  But it is the message from which every other message of God takes its cue, it is the measure against all messages which are claimed to be from God must be measured.

 

But it starts with the Annointed/Chosen Christ

         

Often we hear of Christ being the Lord of all, and that we need to learn to submit to His lordship, to put Him in charge of our lives. There is a strong lesson there, and yes, we need to know Jesus reigns, that He is in charge, that the way He commissioned us to live life is the way we should, for we have learned to trust in Him.

There is another side to this idea of Lordship though, it isn’t just about our submitting to God, it is about His taking responsibility over us, that He would commit His life, and all eternity to being responsible for our lives.  The one who created the mountains, and the oceans, we’ve talked about it so many times, He has promised to make our lives a masterpiece, to forge them into something incredible and miraculous and His.

I think we’ve lost that in the church in the USA today.  I know when I talk to people who’ve have negative experiences with churches, it was because they felt an incredible pressure to conform – to shape up or ship out  – that it was about domination, and unless YOU made God the Lord of your life- and obeyed perfectly, you weren’t good enough.  That is, simply put, wrong.

Jesus being the Lord of your life isn’t about a perfect life submitting to the domination of another.  It is about the ill letting the nurse attend them, about the broken letting the One who can heal the brokenness get in and get to work…It’s about the leper hearing he’s healed, the prostitute hearing, “go and sin no more,” the adultress being offered living water. The one weary and tired being offered rest.  I love what I came across in my devotions this week,

If the outlook in your interior life, in your soul, is darkened, allow yourself to be led along by the hand, as a blind man would do. In time the Lord will reward this humble surrendering of your own judgment by giving you clarity of mind. 

 

What we surrender to the Lord is that which could have been embarrassing, that which is shameful, that which He suffered death to remove from us, and did.

 

Or as a favorite song of mine puts it:

You love every lost cause; you reach for the outcast
For the leper and the lame; they’re the reason that You came
Lord I was that lost cause and I was the outcast
But you died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet

Except at the cross, where He died for the joy of bringing us into the love of God,

For listen again to Hebrews, when it talks about Jesus being Lord…

Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

He was crowned with glory and honor because He was willing to experience death for you, for me, to bear the shame, and disgrace that we were, that we struggle with, as we struggle to pay attention, to grasp on for dear life, for eternal life, this very message that occurs in the next paragraph

 

10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,

 

In committing to be our Lord, in committing to care for us, He commits to bringing us, among many sons and daughters, to glory!

He commits to being never ashamed to call His brothers, never embarrassed to deal with our frailty, our immaturity, our brokenness!  He went to the cross to deal with it all, and in our baptism – we are united to Him, we have life in Him and are cleansed and claimed as His. The scripture describes as having one source of sanctification, that of the Father who raised Christ from the dead, and with Him, you and I!

 

You are His beloved family, He is your beloved Lord…

That is the message that we have to hold onto my friends, that we have been so cleansed, so rescued, so made holy and set apart for a relationship with God that nothing can separate us from God’s love.  Nothing.

You are His family, He is our beloved Father, Jesus our brother, by His decision not ours.  This is our hope, it is that He clings to us with more determination that even found in our desperation.

Don’t neglect that, celebrate it daily, you have been adopted by the Father, for you have been cleansed by the Spirit, and your brother Jesus, is never ashamed to be there for you….

And there, sharing in the love of Trinity, we find something special, the peace of God which passes all understanding, and a peace in which we are guarded, our hearts and minds secured and kept safe by our brother Jesus.

AMEN?

Dealing with Evil and Adversaries

Devotional Discussion thought of the Day:

12:2 Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right side of God’s throne.
Hebrews 12:2 (TEV)

A man I know is considering ending his interaction on Facebook.  He’s a Christian musician of decades of ministering to people and even though a monk, interacts with people by writing and quoting the church fathers.  He crosses lines often in his ministry, working with protestants and orthodox as well as his only Catholic family. Many across many denominations see the unity that we share in Christ – even as we can have issues we don’t agree on.  Indeed, part of his concerts include bringing up all clergy and religious, to have the people there pray for them.

Two things bother him greatly, and I understand this as well.
1.  The way in which some do not just disagree – but treat those they disagree with rudely, and with great condescension

2.  The heated rhetoric that is evidenced – even among Christians, perhaps especially among Christians – as we enter the election season.

I understand them both, to be honest, there are days I understand  have thought of quitting FB and wish I could quit those areas of life where I encounter such.  Both sicken me.  My problem, I want to deal with the people that exhibit such attitudes as if they are not just sinners, but the sin itself. I want to strike back hard, especially in defense of those who can’t.  FIght fire with fire, confront hate with hate, and that to sickens me.   Or I want to run from the engagement – heck not just on Facebook, but in real life.  Sometimes I’ve heard the joke – being a pastor would be such an incredible job, if only there were no people!

For me, there is a price of seeing people grow in Christ, and that price is to grieve as I see the place from where we  have to grow.  The brokenness, the filth, the sin and hatred.  It’s disgraceful, its violent and vicious, and we all lose sight of God and return there occasionally, not to rescue others, but instead to dwell i our own muck. This isn’t good of course.  But how do we deal with it?

We endure it, even as Christ endured what it took to rescue us.  We keep focused on the joy that awaits us, as our enemies, and adversaries are turned by God, to His heart.  Endurance isn’t toleration, it is letting the Light do its work to overcome darkness, to realize that people will have to adjust to living in the light, and that we need to focus on reflecting Christ’s love, His mercy His compassion into that place, even identifying, in love, the places where God’s light needs to bring healing.

Tough stuff. Very tough, a form of sacrifice, a martyrdom to bear witness to the light.

One last thought on this:

6:12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 (NLT)

The demons we confront aren’t the people – they are in need of deliverance (just as much as we are).  So pray for them, love them, confront them in that love and mercy of Christ, and pray that we can remember the joy that will come, when our brothers (and us) are granted repentance.

“Lord have mercy” we cry, may we learn to reflect that same mercy… even if it costs us, even if we despise the cost and the grieving, for there is joy set before us!  AMEN.

 

 

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