Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Family of Christ

"My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it."
Luke 8:21

It would seem that if anyone had an inside track to eternal life it was the members of Jesus' own family. Yet, in this passage we see that this was not the case. They had to come like everyone else. In fact, maybe being related to Jesus was actually a hindrance. They watched Him grow up. They knew Him in ways that others didn't. To them, He was no one special. For this very reason their eyes were often blind to the revelation of who He truly is.

But the bigger issue, for us, is where do we find ourselves? We are not related to Jesus. Yet, can we find a place in His family? The answer is yes. When we listen to His word and obey it, we are His relatives. But pay careful attention to what is being said. It is not enough to hear the word of God, or know the word of God. We must be doing the word of God. We must obey! And we must obey daily, not just sporadically. If this was the case for Jesus' own mother and brothers, then how much more must it be the case for us. There are no exceptions; obedience equals relationship.

Isn't that rather legalistic? No, it's not. We all operate the same way. The only real relationships we have are those in which we love the other person enough to be committed to them no matter what. This is really what Jesus is saying. We can't have a relationship with Him if we will only be committed to Him when we want something from Him. That's not a relationship, it's prostitution.

Now this also raises an issue about the place of Mary, our Lord' s mother. Doesn't this passage show that she really didn't get it and couldn't possibly be all the things Catholics say she is? No, not really. Mary didn't understand everything that was going on. Episodes like this one in which she was concerned for the welfare of our Lord indicate that she simply didn't have some of the insight that she gained after hearing His words. But this doesn't mean she was sinning. In fact, we may look at this passage and understand that in the eternal perspective, Mary does not receive all the attention she gets merely because she gave birth to our Lord, but also because she truly was an exemplary disciple. She obeyed the word of God from the heart every time she was given the opportunity to do so. Would that we could say the same!

To live as one of Jesus' own we must continually be humbly seeking Him in prayer and in the Word. As we meditate on the Word, we must be sure that we are looking for the ways this is practically lived out in our lives. As we do, we show that we really are members of Christ's family. What a great privilege! What a tremendous joy!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Pilgrim Journey

Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, so as to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God.
Colossians 1:10

I love the phraseology of Paul. He paints such great pictures with his words. Today we hear him tell us to walk. Walking has the idea that we are in continuous motion. We are on pilgrimage. We have a destination and we are traveling there. It refers to our continuous lifestyle. Our faith is about how we live day be day. It is not a conglomeration of "experiences". We may feel things in a dramatic fashion from time to time. But these are not really the defining moments of our lives. It is how we live in the press of day to day living that truly determines who we are.

We are told not only to walk, but to walk in manner worthy of the Lord. Christ came to live the perfect life as well as die the redeeming death. As His disciples, we are to embrace His example as much as His teaching. It is the life of Christ that is to be lived out through us. Therefore, if we are to walk in a manner worthy of our Lord we must imitate His example. In this way we will be fully pleasing to Him.

Our lives are called to bear fruit; not necessarily the fruit of conversions, but rather the fruit of good works. These good works serve to glorify God. They demonstrate His presence in our lives and testify to the world around us of the life that we are called to live.

We are called to grow in the knowledge of our Lord. Our God yearns to be known. He is not hidden, as He seems. Rather, He is constantly revealing Himself to those who have eyes of faith and ears to hear what the Spirit is saying. We who know Him are not to content ourselves with that fact, but rather we are to hunger to know Him more. For He hungers to know us more. It is not that He doesn't already know everything about us. He does. But that is trivial. He wants to know us in the depths of our hearts. This requires that we open our hearts to Him. Then He will come to know us and we will come to know Him.

This phrase is part of a longer one in which St. Paul informs the Colossian Church of his continuous prayers on their behalf. What a wonderful thing to pray: that they will continue to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord and grow in the knowledge of Him. May we follow his example in living this life and praying for others to join us.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Be Alert!

We are not of the night or of darkness. So let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.
1 Thessalonians 5:5,6

St. Paul writes to the Thessalonians about being ready for the return of our Lord in power and glory to judge the living and the dead. He warns that this day will come suddenly, like a thief in the night. It will take many by surprise. But not us.

How can we have an inside tip on when the Lord will return? As our Lord Himself said, no one knows the day or the hour. It isn't that we will have the inside scoop. Rather, since we will live our lives ready for the return of the Lord, it won't matter when He comes. We'll be ready.

Paul describes this as keeping awake and sober. Both describe a lifestyle of being constantly on the alert. What are we watching for? The coming of the Lord, of course. But how does that play out for us?

It means we are guarding our hearts against sin. We are on the watch for the enemy of temptation from whichever quarter it may come. We are alert to his sneak attacks. We maintain such diligence so that we will not be overcome by sin and chance that Christ will return while we are astray from Him.

We are also awake to the fact that we have a job to do. We have been called to bring His Gospel to the world. When the Master of the House returns, will He find us about our duty? Will He find us faithful? It has been said that idleness is the devil's workshop. It is true. When we leave our duties and resort to amusing ourselves, we often find ourselves in the midst of sin. God has not called us to a playground, but a battleground. Our lives here are to be dedicated to His service. Our rewards await us. This does not mean, of course, that we cannot enjoy this life. But it does mean that happiness and pleasure are not the goals.

To be awake and sober is to keep an eye on eternity. We are not guaranteed another minute, much less another day. How will we use the time given to us?

How do we make an impact in our generation? By giving up our lives completely to our Lord Jesus. It is only then that our lives can be used in ways that will truly make an impact. The thing to remember is that it is His choice how He will use us, not ours. When we make loving and serving Him the goal, everything else we could ever really desire will be ours as well.

Be awake and sober, my friends, and watch to see the great things God will do!