1. Knowing Christ means sacrifice. I got a phone call the other night. I was dead tired, the kind of fatigue when you feel like you’ve been run over by a train. But I knew this was my only chance to talk with this particular friend before a busy week, so I took the call. Rather than just trying to gut it through the conversation, I kept up a running dialog with God as I talked and listened to my friend. I told him how I was tired, and asked for wisdom on how to proceed, as well as for strength. And the challenges didn’t magically go away, but it was a great phone call with some very encouraging content. And I realized more than ever that this is how I learn to be like Christ — by giving to people when I absolutely don’t feel like it. I live a lifestyle of giving to people, but there is a point at which I stop. Pushing this point further, through fellowship with the Lord, is a whole new dimension.
- I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Phil 3:10-11
2. The “church lady” exists. I read a blog a few days ago about a single mother who sought God and started going to church at low point in life. (http://pearlsandgrace.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-new-church-lady.html) She was desperate for help, but what she got was judgment and feelings of shame. She didn’t try to seek God again for ten years. The blog brought up the old Saturday Night Live skit about the “church lady,” a judgmental and self-righteous character. It said that we need to be sure we are not like the church lady, or we can turn people off, as happened with the single mom.
At the time I thought the blog was perhaps too extreme. We do need to make people feel welcome. We do need to make sure they know that we don’t think we are better than them, we’re all sinners. But we don’t need to go so far in not judging them to the point where we don’t tell them the truths that will help them.
But then yesterday I got with a new friend, a campus girl. She shared her story of going to a local Christian high school. She lived a worldly lifestyle, but then recommitted her life to Christ. After she did so, she did everything she could to be friends with the “good girls” at school, but they would never accept her. It soured her on religion, and she went back to the world.
I could feel for this girl so much. How heart-wrenching it is when someone desperately needs encouragement in relationships, and the very relationships which should provide the most nurturing are instead the most damaging.
Yesterday Ken and I were discussing whether I should travel an hour to go see one of the sisters in Columbus. Usually I make the trip for several women. This time it might only be one. I told him that it is easy to take care of the sheep that are close by, who are well fed and fat. But wouldn’t a good shepherd make sure to go out and bring food to the thin sheep that range further away in places where sustenance is more scarce?
We must make sure we aren’t like the church lady, and take Jesus’ command to feed his sheep seriously. There are people who vitally need love and attention.
- The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. John 21:17
3. Humanism is becoming the norm. In the process of reading an article about the proposed statue of Satan next to the one of the Ten Commandments in Oklahoma, I went to the web site for the Satanic Temple. http://www.thesatanictemple.com/
It was definitely interesting. It was not a blatant promotion of the worship of evil. But it was definitely a proponent of the exaltation of man over God: “Ours is the Humanistic Satan who would sacrifice His own Heavenly residence so that Humanity might learn to understand and enjoy the physical world they inhabit.”
The web site also said, “The Satanist harbors reasonable agnosticism in all things, holding fast only to that which is demonstrably true.” And under its Tenets it says, “The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.”
In other words, Satanists believe there is not room for faith in a God they do not understand. They will only believe in that which can be proved by the truths they know. And one of the main truths they know is that there must be compassion, (human) wisdom and justice.
It is scary to me that I see this kind of thinking becoming prevalent in our society. Indeed, someone wrote almost the exact same thought as the tenet I quoted on a Facebook post recently. While I respect some of the underlying concepts — compassion and justice, the seeking of truth over mean-spirited dogmatism — I fear for a religion that encourages pride and humanism. Humility, the fear of God, has great value. God wrote the blueprint. We can’t just all rely on our subjective sense of what is right. But still, we must also not be afraid to challenge our beliefs to make sure they are true. AND, as I remarked earlier, we cannot be self-righteous to the point of obscuring love and mercy.
- We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. I John 2:3-6
- Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13
- Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Heb 11:1