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Archive for March, 2017

Beauty-and-the-Beast1

Beauty and the Beast has been my personal favorite Disney story for many years now.  If you know my husband, it’s easy to see why I identify.  Kidding! Ok, maybe just a little truth there.

The truth is, about 20 years ago, we both started out as beasts.  It was nothing but the Lord who has made us more like the Beauty and less Beastly to one another over the course of time and trials.

A lot of reviews have already been written about this long-awaited real-life remake.  Rather than do that, I just want to focus on one particular aspect that many might miss if they are not paying attention.

Belle is trying to reason through how the living objects in the castle must feel about their sentence of not being human again.  She says something to the effect of, “I can see why he (the beast) deserved this, but you – you did nothing wrong.”

It is at that point that Mrs. Potts pipes up like only a talking tea kettle can do and, from my perspective, speaks the most important line of the entire movie.  She quickly responds without even a second to bask in the expected hesitation, groveling, or self-victimization and says, “You’re right deary, we did nothing…” (when the beast was but a boy grieving over the loss of his mother and became the victim of an abusive, self-absorbed father.)

There is so much to learn from the attitude that Mrs. Potts’ character displays in that one single exchange.  Here’s what we can take from it and perhaps teach our children:

Firstly, no matter what your circumstance or how desperately unfortunate it is, you must never think of yourself as a victim.  A victim mentality will always hurt you.  Personal responsibility and owning up to our own failures in all circumstances is the key to being a person of character.

Next, if it is clear that someone else has been dealt a very difficult hand, we must consider their stressors over their responsibilities and act appropriately towards them.

For ourselves, we overlook the reasons we have to claim a victim status and rise up responsibly.  For others, we look for those same reasons and empathize when they act irresponsibly.  We do not compare circumstances, ever.  We do not compare reactions, grief, or evaluate and/or determine how any other person should be dealing with their own circumstance from an emotional standpoint.  The most important thing to do is serve them.  That’s what Mrs. Potts does.  That’s what her child does.  And, while they do not always agree with or even obey the beast in his unkind and ridiculous demands, they always seek to serve and help him in ways that are beneficial to him.

Finally, Mrs. Potts’s profound statement teaches us the often neglected truth that what we do not do is just as damaging as what we do wrong.  She says, “We did nothing…” (when this little boy’s whole world fell apart.)

That was an admission of guilt – a taking part in the making of a self-centered, unkind, now cursed, beast.  What we do not do for those who we know are suffering and being abused right before our eyes is what will convict and condemn us right alongside them if and when they become beasts in their own right.

Again, this idea does not erase personal responsibility for the beasts of the world.  Each man is wholly responsible for his own actions, always.  What this perspective does is it helps us to understand and own our personal responsibility toward those in need – namely children within our sphere of influence – before they morph into individuals who kill, steal, and destroy just like their teachers.

In other words, we do not get to dislike and avoid people we do not prefer and then turn around and blame them because they are bitter about it.  Our job is to see only our own faults and look past the faults of others in as much as we possibly can and love and serve them despite those faults.

What a great perspective to have.

– Own responsibility no matter how difficult your circumstances.

– Empathize, don’t criticize when others fail.

– Recognize that doing nothing is just as damaging as doing wrong to others.

That’s as true as it can be.

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In Isaiah chapter 7, God sent Isaiah to King Ahaz.  King Ahaz was the king ruling for the House of David at the time.  Ahaz had made an alliance with Assyria who was a foreign enemy.  God’s people were shaking hands with a worldly power.  Why?

Ahaz did this because he was trusting in Assyria for his security and the security of his people.  They were trusting in this worldly power for security, peace, and comfort in an uncertain, unstable time in their lives.  Why was it unstable and why did they need that?

They were afraid.  They were afraid of Syria and Ephraim.  They were afraid they would be attacked by other nations and enemies.  They were operating out of fear and from a mindset that says, “My enemy’s enemy is my friend,” right?  Problem is, they were not trusting in God.  They were trusting in man.  This nation was powerful and they felt protected by it.

So, God sent Isaiah the prophet to prophesy to King Ahaz.

And the Lord said to Isaiah,. “Go out to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-jashub your son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer’s Field. And say to him, ‘Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Remaliah.” ~Isaiah 7:3-4

So, God is saying to Isaiah, go to Ahaz.  Tell him not to worry.  I’m about to destroy the ones you fear.  He ends with, “If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.”

Judgement was coming, not just for Ahaz’s enemies, but for God’s people as well.  Judgement was coming because the people of God refused his provision, his ways, and instead chose to trust a worldly enemy.

The Lord spoke to me again: “Because this people has refused the waters of Shiloah that flow gently, and rejoice over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, therefore, behold, the Lord is bringing up against them the waters of the River, mighty and many, the king of Assyria and all his glory. And it will rise over all its channels and go over all its banks,and it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass on, reaching even to the neck, and its outspread wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel.” Isaiah 8:5-8

These people do not trust God.  Plain and simple, they just don’t.  Therefore, God sends Isaiah to state the obvious.  He tells them they don’t trust God, that they’ve refused his soft and easy stream and that because of that, rushing, powerful waters will come over them.  This was the judgement.

Assyria would come and cause great destruction.  They very people and power they trusted in place of God were going to be the instruments God would use to judge and discipline them.

God instructed Isaiah – his prophet – not to follow suit; not to conform; not to go the way of everyone around  him.  In fact, God chose him to tell them why they should not conform either.

“For the Lord spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: 12 “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. 13 But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” Isaiah 8:11-13

Matthew Henry notes, “Do not join with those that, for the securing of themselves, are for making a league with the Assyrians, through unbelief, and distrust of God and their cause.  Do not come into any such confederacy.  Not, it concerns us, in time of trouble, to watch against all such fears as put us upon taking any indirect courses for our own security.”

These guys were mad at Isaiah for telling them the truth.  They considered him a traitor because he told them how wrong they were for trusting in Assyria (men) rather than God.  So, Isaiah says something like this, “God specifically told me not to follow the crowd, not to buy in to this conspiracy mindset, and not to fear.  He told me to tell you that I have to fear him alone.”

” I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him.” Isaiah 8:17

Unfortunately, instead of profiting from the prophet’s words from God, they are offended by them.

If God’s words, instructions, and ways offend us, we become an offense to him – especially if we’re following the crowd and trusting in men rather than God.  Judgement comes in those times.

Like God told Isaiah to tell Ahaz and when he called him individually to be a bad news bearing nonconformist, “If you are not firm in your faith, you will not be firm at all.”  The same is true for us.  Amen and amen.

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God called Jeremiah to a prophetic ministry.  He did not give Jeremiah happy news, though.  He entrusted Jeremiah with the announcement of his coming judgement of his very own people.  Little wonder no one liked him and he was known as the “weeping prophet.”

Though God’s people sought to ignore, dismiss, and even blame and hate Jeremiah for his true words, there was a reason solely within themselves that God was judging them.  That reason was their gross idolatry and ignorance toward their very own father – God himself.

As Jeremiah preaches his very first sermon, the pain God is feeling over the sin of his own people is almost unbearable.  It comes through loud and clear in chapter number two of Jeremiah’s book.  Just listen to God’s words here:

 Thus says the Lord:

“What wrong did your fathers find in me
    that they went far from me,
and went after worthlessness, and became worthless?
They did not say, ‘Where is the Lord
    who brought us up from the land of Egypt,
who led us in the wilderness,
    in a land of deserts and pits,
in a land of drought and deep darkness,
    in a land that none passes through,
    where no man dwells?’
And I brought you into a plentiful land
    to enjoy its fruits and its good things.
But when you came in, you defiled my land
    and made my heritage an abomination.
The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’
    Those who handle the law did not know me;
the shepherds transgressed against me;
    the prophets prophesied by Baal
    and went after things that do not profit.

“Therefore I still contend with you,
declares the Lord,
    and with your children’s children I will contend.~Jeremiah 2:5-9

God, their father who had created, loved, delivered, and provided so very much for these people finds himself having to ask them where he went wrong.  Surely it is not because he thinks he did something wrong.  He asks this question in order to expose their fault and show them that he had only done good to them.  It wasn’t that he didn’t know who was in the wrong.  It was that they didn’t.

Therefore he says something like this, “What did I do against your fathers?  Why did they leave and stray so far away from me?  Why did they chase worthless things over me?  I was for them.  I loved them.  I gave them everything.  Answer me.  Tell me what wrong I have done to you or to them.

By the way, it is for your own benefit that I am asking, not mine.  If you had just chased me you would have become just like me.  But you didn’t.  You left me.  You chose instead to follow other things and people.  You might not know it, but in leaving me and chasing worthless things, you all became just like those things you’re chasing – worthless.

And it’s not just what you did.  It’s what you didn’t do.  You did wrong by chasing idols.  You didn’t do right because you were not asking, ‘Where is the Lord?’

Remember that guy?  The one who delivered you from slavery?  The one who led us in the wilderness?  The one who gave us a plentiful land to enjoy all good things?  Remember him?  That’s me.

Even your priests!  Even your leaders failed to ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’  The law makers didn’t even know me!  Even the shepherds in the field sinned against me!  The prophets prophesied by a false god!

Therefore – because of all this –

‘I still contend with you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and with your children’s children I will contend.’ “

God is literally fighting with his own children.  He is contending against them because of their foolishness in distancing themselves from him, getting close to unworthy things, and forsaking him for idols.

He goes to great lengths to show them in detail, how guilty they really are.  (Jeremiah 2:9-25)

No nation has ever done something so ridiculous as to change its gods!  Even those with false gods do not do this!  But you do.  You exchange my glory for worthlessness. (Jeremiah 2:11)

God calls on the heavens to agree with him because his own people won’t!

Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
    be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the Lord,
13 for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
    the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
    broken cisterns that can hold no water.~Jeremiah 2:12-13

Listen.  When God starts calling on nature to do things men should be doing, we have a problem, Houston.  God is literally telling the heavens to be appalled – to be shocked!

Can’t you hear his kids now?

Why so serious, God?  You’re kind of freaking us out here, Jeremiah.  Can someone shut this guy up?  He’s such a negative problem finder.

The two reasons God gives for this pronouncement of coming judgment are thus:

1.His people had forsaken him.

2.His people had sought out broken, worthless cisterns to try to obtain that which God would have freely given if they had not forsaken him.

Instead, he tells them they are all sitting ducks.  He tells them they will be dishonored, devastated, and their land desolated.

God goes on.

You brought this upon yourselves, kids.  (Jeremiah 2:17)  You did it by forsaking me.  I delivered you!  but you said,

“I will not serve…”  (Jeremiah 2:20)

You refused me and now, you will watch as your idols refuse to serve you. (Jeremiah 2:26-27)

God reminds them how he tried to correct and discipline them – even painfully.

“In vain have I struck your children; they took no correction.  Your own sword devoured your prophets like a ravaging lion.”  Jeremiah 2:30

God graciously sent words of correction and warning to these people time and again and time and again they ignored him completely!  They ignored every blow, every prophet, and  every good word of warning meant to protect and prosper them by their repentance.

The pain of the Father comes through so desperately here.  He is saying, “All I’ve done is vain.  They took no heed.  They took no correction.  They would not learn to do right.  They refused to listen to me.  Haven’t I been here for you all your days?  Have I been a wilderness?  Darkness?  How could you forget me?  I’m your dad!”

“Can a virgin forget her ornaments,
    or a bride her attire?
Yet my people have forgotten me
    days without number.” Jeremiah 2:32

God is grieving.  How could you forget me kids?  How could you stop your ears to my faithful and wise instruction?  My good and necessary correction?  Even my painful discipline!  I have been right here all the time with an outstretched arm.

Yet you have forgotten me days without number.

And how do God’s people reply to his reproofs?

Yet in spite of all these things (your guilt), you say, “I am innocent, surely his anger has turned from me.’

They STILL think they are OK!  Still!  Un-stinking-believable!

God’s verdict?

Behold, I will bring you to judgment
    for saying, ‘I have not sinned.’…You shall be put to shame by Egypt
    as you were put to shame by Assyria…for the Lord has rejected those in whom you trust,
    and you will not prosper by them.
Jeremiah 2:35b, 36b, 37b

Now.  How’d you like to be the dude (or dudette!)  who gets to deliver this message from daddy?

When my kids warn their siblings with the preface, “Daddy said…”  it lights a fire like nothing you’ve ever seen.  God’s children don’t obey him that way very often, though, especially when it’s a brother or sister instructing them on what he actually said.  Rather than repenting and acknowledging fault, they blame the bearer of bad news.  Rather than repenting, they shoot the messenger, which, in essence amounts to shooting themselves right in the foot.

Consider that.

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4

God lays out the fourth commandment in Exodus 20:8-11.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” 

God commands rest.  The Hebrew word for Sabbath is “shabbat,” and it comes from the word which means, “to cease.” God commands his people to stop working.  Not only they, but their children, animals, and even foreigners passing through their land.  Not one of them was to work on this holy day.

So, you couldn’t just tell someone else to work for you on the Sabbath.  You couldn’t have your servants, kids, or animals pull your weight.  Everyone was to rest.  The reason is because this is the example – the precedent set by God himself in his very creation of the world.

The concept of the Sabbath is very important to us today.  It points us back to creation and, even more importantly, forward to redemption.  In Deuteronomy 5:12-15, the Sabbath was meant to point God’s people to their own deliverance from Egypt – from slavery.

All of this points us, today, to our rest in Christ.  We are commanded to cease from labor; to remember our deliverance from slavery; to rest in Christ alone every single minute of every single day in order to glorify him by our complete and total trust and faith in Him – despite the, often times immense workload he has ordained for us.

Resting in Christ does not mean that once we know him we can shuck all our responsibility and not do that which we have been called to.  It is not holy or righteous to cease from our work by dumping it off on everyone around us while we bask in the presence of God.

 It is tempting, I know.  I personally have an almost superhuman ability to block out noise and distraction when I want to study my Bible.  No matter how many mental gymnastics I do, I cannot justifiably come to the conclusion that God has commanded me to rest instead of doing the jobs he has given to me.  Even on the Sabbath, God has not commanded me to ignore and neglect my home and children in order to prove I am faithfully resting in Him.  No.  God wants me to pray for strength and endurance so I might have the great faith it takes to rest in Him in my most overwhelming circumstances.

Resting is remembering God and trusting him enough to stop working in my own strength, not only for one day per week, but every single day until my eternal rest.

Unfortunately, just like a human, I often get off track.  After I work in my own strength without resting in him for a long time, I crash, I burn, or I quit.  Quitting is resting in my own means.  It is a selfish rest.  And it doesn’t really help me, either.  Vacations do not make overwhelming situations go away.  If I left my home and children for a week, they wouldn’t magically become obedient, mature, and respectful while I was gone.  They may not even be alive anymore!  Literally ceasing from the work God has ordained in my life is never an option!  Ceasing from trusting in myself to accomplish it or trusting in my work itself is what this command calls me to.

On the contrary, carrying on and trusting that He is enough to help me accomplish all that which he has called me to do is truly what resting in him is all about.  That is a holy rest; a God-glorifying rest; a righteous rest.

I believe taking a once a week rest from physical or worldly work and daily responsibilities as much as humanly possible is definitely wise.  I believe, however, the command to keep the Sabbath for New Testament believers is rooted in our rest in grace, not works, and, ultimately, our eternal rest in Christ, in heaven.  Even a more literal approach to Sabbath-keeping only indicates and prescribes one day per week for rest from our human responsibilities and callings.  That means the more time we spend “resting” outside that prescription, the less we are actually trusting in God to give and provide us with the true rest he has promised – the rest that comes solely from Him despite overwhelming circumstances and hard labor coupled with a constant, urgent call to share his good news with everyone, everywhere, always.

“Neglected duties remain duties still, notwithstanding our neglect.” ~Matthew Henry

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You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. ~Exodus 20:7

The third command God gave to Israel has to do with how we represent Him as His people.

Taking God’s name in vain starts in the heart.  It is not just about saying curse words alongside Our Father’s Name.  It is that, but it is not merely that.  Taking God’s name in vain also includes religious hypocrisy, breaking vows or promises to God, and flippancy in regards to His Holy Name.

Firsty, hypocrisy.  When we wear the name of God as our identity, titling ourselves, “Christian,” we have a great responsibility to live up to that name.  This, because it is His name we bear, not our own.  We bear it only because of His grace.  By hypocrisy, we grossly misrepresent him, thus taking his good name in vain.

Think of a team.  If I wear the jersey and am given the great privilege and benefit that goes with being a professional athlete, but I choose to skip the games because I am busy doing something unrelated, how long will I have the title?  What if I help the other team while on the field?  Or say I’ll make the next play but do my own play instead and miss the shot entirely because of my own selfishness?

That is what Christians do when we claim the title and hope for the privileges and benefits (blessings and salvation) yet fail to obey the things we claim to believe and preach to others.  It is vain worship; vain religion, as Matthew Henry calls it saying, “Those that name the name of Christ, but do not depart from iniquity, as that name binds them to do, name it in vain; their worship is vain, their oblations are vain, their religion is vain.”

Secondly, taking God’s name in vain has to do with breaking vows and promises we have made to him.  Think about it.  If I tell you, “I promise,” to do thus and so without any intention to follow through or concern when I fail to deliver, it is not only personally injurious to you, but also careless and disrespectful.  This is an area where many fall into a works-based mentality and works religion.

Instead of keeping promises in obediences to God and obeying His Holy Word, instead of admitting and confessing their sin and trusting in Him to pardon, humans will try to “make up” for their failure and fault by doing something else.  Good works is how we term those things.  The problem is that good works are only truly “good” if they are done out of a right motive.  Making up for disobedience is not a right motive.  That is called manipulation and God will not be manipulated by men.  These works are vain and they take God’s name in vain.

This is what the term “penance” refers to.  Paying penance can be paying actual money in an effort to be absolved or forgiven for a sin or it can be a myriad of other good works down IN PLACE OF true repentance, asking forgiveness, and honest reconciliation after a fault.

Matthew Henry notes, “By covenant-breaking – if we make promises to God, binding our souls with those bonds to that which is good, and yet perform not to the Lord our vows, we take his name in vain, it is folly, and God has no pleasure in fools, nor will he be mocked.”

Thirdly, taking God’s name in vain is that which we all commonly know it to be.  Using God’s name as a cuss work, or swearing by it, or in any way that dishonors him.  This is something many who label themselves by His name consider acceptable.  Even a simple man can see that by doing so we not only dishonor Him, but also ourselves.  How foolish.

Lastly, we can take God’s name in vain by using it flippantly and without regard for His honor.  Terms like, “Oh my God,” “Sweet baby Jesus” “OMG” or any use of God’s name that lacks the authority and honor due Him is a sin as forbidden in this third commandment.

The second part of the verse is just as noteworthy as the first.  Not only are we forbidden to take God’s name in vain, we are warned of punishment if we disobey in this area.

While we are busy justifying and excusing this sin because it is so prevalent in our world today and we are so dull to the scripture’s command and warning, God is promising a severe penalty for it.  He says this, “…the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” 

God cannot lie.  He said he will not hold us guiltless for this act of disrespect.  God will avenge those who take his name in vain.  He is not a passive father who does not mean the things he says.  If a warning is present in the scripture and it is directed at His people and not the world – His people would do well to pay attention and reconsider what we accept and excuse on a daily basis.

Amen.

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well

So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. Now he had to go through Samaria. ~John 4:3-4

The context of this “leaving” is notable.  Jesus left Judea for a reason.  He left because the religious leaders of his day caught wind that he was gaining a following.  His disciples were baptizing lots of people – even more than John the Baptist.

Why would that make Jesus leave?  If Jesus was bringing people to God, why would religious men be upset?  Why would what some religious pretenders thought make him stop and leave?  Why was that a problem?

It was a problem because those religious leaders were extremely jealous.  Jesus knew they wanted the power and control of God’s house and God’s people that belonged solely to him.  Because they so coveted and idolized power and control so severely, they wrongfully assumed that that was what Jesus and his followers must want, too.  They thought that he came to take their beloved places of authority.  Because their identity was in their works and their positions rather than in a right relationship with God, they hated Jesus and his right-doing followers.

Ironically, Jesus had every right to direct the religious dealings of the Jews.  He was their Savior!  He had every right to be the authority among all of them and all the Gentiles as well.  He is the King of Kings!!!  Wonder what would happen if Jesus showed up today to put his church in order?  Wonder what religious men would do?  Wonder what would happen if he tried to do it through the testimony of an adulteress woman?

Somehow, people, especially particularly religious ones, do not like when Jesus is really in charge of the church.  When Jesus is calling the shots, men are not and their almighty positions of leadership are threatened.

Jesus does not fight with them over their pride and pretense.  Instead, he reveals it.  He reveals it by leaving.  He chooses to go through Samaria – a place and a people that the Jews overtly hated.  Jesus proves their hypocrisy without even saying a word to them.  He does it merely by purposefully preaching to a person they despised – a Samaritan woman.

Sometimes religious leaders cannot hear plain and simple truth no matter how clear and obvious it really is.  They cannot hear because they refuse to.  The wisdom of Christ recognizes that and stops talking.  The wisdom of Christ simply shows them up by doing exactly the things they should be doing but refuse out of their pride and hypocrisy.

Jesus went directly through Samaria on a route the Jews went far out of their way to avoid.  The text says he “had to.”  He had to because he had to show the religious men their fault.  He had to because he had to show the Samaritans salvation.  He cared equally about both the religious men in their error and the irreligious woman in hers.  He proved both in one act.

To prove the level of hatred for the woman with whom Jesus chose to speak, the text says this:

 27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” ~John 4:27

No one asked these questions.  Despite their surprise, no one wanted to know?  There is a reason for that.  They likely did not want to be asked to do the same.  Even Jesus’ own disciples were tainted by the social norms of their day.  They knew it was social homicide to speak with Samaritans or honor them as brothers and, gasp, sisters.  They were not willing to risk their own reputation to honor people God had chosen.  They were afraid, prideful, and unyielding to those whom God had deemed clean.

Jesus is not like erring, religious men.  He does not avoid difficult and uncomfortable situations.  In fact, he makes it a point to meet the very people who instigate them.  He does it in order to show prideful men the hatred they have in their hearts for others and to show humble outcasts the love he has in his heart for even them.  He does both at the very same time.

Even Jesus’ disciples feared following his lead and example in talking to this outcast woman.  Not only  was she part of a social group they avoided, she was a she and not a he.  The contempt they had for her was doubly great.  Jesus shone a light on the contempt they had for her in order to show them the wickedness in their own hearts.

That is why Jesus “had to” go through Samaria when everyone knew you were supposed to take the long way around and avoid them – avoid her- at all costs!  He had to expose the attitudes that had a continual internal dialogue that repeated words like this: “What if someone sees?  What will people think?  She is a dog!  We cannot be friends.  We are enemies.  I’m so good and she’s so bad and what if someone thinks I like her?   What if someone thinks I like her more than I should?  What if I do like her more than I should?  How will I cover up my sin?  How will I regain my good reputation?  She will ruin me!  She is out to get me!  She is bad!  I am good!  Stay away, wicked wench!  You are not worthy of my words or my water!  God does not call people like you to serve him!  Let me just keep pretending you don’t exist so I can feel good about my own righteousness, good reputation, and religious position!”

The Jews were wrong about Jesus.  Their power-hungry hearts were desperately jealous.  They were wrong about the Samaritans.  They were wrong about women. The Jews were no different than any other human group on earth.  They just thought they were because they were used to getting special treatment; preference; respect; seats of honor.  They were, after all, the children of a long line of self-righteous, spoiled brats.  They were just as desperately needy and sinful as any Samaritan in Samaria.  Therefore,  Jesus pulls the curtain back on their dark thoughts and actions not by telling them, but by doing the very things they were not willing to do.  He shows them their sin by doing the right they refused to do.

 And the woman preached the gospel by her testimony.  The Samaritans were saved despite all the religious efforts to avoid the likes of these unworthy people whom they esteemed themselves so much better than.

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers. ~John 4:39-41

To that end I ask, are things really any different today?  If you think things have changed, try being a former adulteress with something to offer in a patriarchal church in 2017. Nevertheless, despite the odds, Jesus used an adulteress to save a town full of outcast rejects.  If anything gives me hope at all, it is that.

Be careful who you purposefully avoid.  Be careful who you hold contempt for in your heart.  Jesus might call you out on your hypocrisy and pride by using that very person to start a revival among those you consider most unworthy; those you personally despise.  What will you do when God’s church is full of people you have spent your whole life avoiding and despising?  You have two choices:

1.Crucify him

2.Love them

Kyrie elesion

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