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Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

sinai

In Exodus 24:1-10, God has just given the most important guidelines for human behavior ever given to man.  After Moses receives the ten commandments and the promises of God, he immediately begins working to share them.  Good leader Moses told the people what God expected of them.  Good leader Moses wrote it all down.  Good leader Moses got up early and worshipped.  Good leader Moses read the words aloud to the people.  Then, he covered them with the blood of the sacrifices.

Notice that Moses did not cut the people up into pieces, burn them on the altar and sacrifice them in order to please God.  No.  He covered them with the blood of another as they came to the place of worship.  Likewise, when we go to a place of worship, we should not be beaten, killed, and left to bleed on the altar for our sin by the leaders.  A sacrifice was already made for us for that very reason.  The blood of Jesus Christ should be applied to us by the servants leading worship.

After God reveals himself to the leaders, he calls Moses back up the mountain.  Then, he tells him to do something very difficult: wait.

The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.”  ~Exodus 24:12

Wait, Moses.  Go where I tell you and wait there.  The reason for the waiting given to Moses was, “that I may give you the tablets of stone…”  Moses was to wait so God could physically give him the tablets with the commands written on them.

Moses obeyed.  He took his young friend Joshua and he went where God sent him.  He put two others in charge over the people while he was gone.  He is told to wait, and he in turn tells those under him to wait as well.

Note, good leaders do not leave those they have been given responsibility and charge over without delegating that responsibility and leadership to someone else first.  He who is not faithful with what he has been given will not be given more.  What he does have will be taken away.  (Matthew 25:29)

Moses goes up and a cloud covers the mountain.  God’s presence descended and for six days Moses waited upon God.  It was not until day seven that Moses heard God call out to him.

Note, even when we obey God’s commands and instructions perfectly and without delay, he often still calls us to wait upon him for further instructions.

When God does appear, the text says, Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.” When God appeared after all Moses’s waiting and righteous obedience, it was not just him that saw God.  All the people below saw God appear.  Moses wasn’t making this stuff up and they knew it.  There could be no mistake.  God was doing something of unmitigated importance.  They all saw and they all knew.  Makes you wonder how they could ever choose to make and worship and idol while this was still going on.  But, as we all know they did just that with the golden calf.

Anyway, Moses is no stranger to the fire of God.  When he was called to deliver God’s people out of Egypt, it was a burning bush that God chose to reveal himself and speak through.  Make no mistake, Our God is a consuming fire and he will not be sold out as a dry and lifeless ember as some would seek to have him be.  Little wonder the Bible says, “Quench not the Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19)

God kept Moses forty days and forty nights as he elaborated upon all the laws and also gave Moses the physical tablets of stone with the law written down on them by His very own finger.

Note, when God is giving instruction to leaders that he has placed over his people, he often does so for a great amount of time that they may be duly prepared for the difficult business he is about to employ them in.

Just to recap, here is what Exodus 24:12-18 gives us practically to apply in our lives today:

1. Moses did not cut the people up into pieces, burn them on the altar and sacrifice them in order to please God.  No.  He covered them with the blood of another as they came to the place of worship.  Likewise, when we go to a place of worship, we should not be beaten, killed, and left to bleed on the altar for our sin by the leaders.  A sacrifice was already made for us for that very reason.  The blood of Jesus Christ should be applied to us by the servants leading worship.

2. Good leaders do not leave those they have been given responsibility and charge over without delegating that responsibility and leadership to someone else first.  He who is not faithful with what he has been given will not be given more.  What he does have will be taken away.  (Matthew 25:29)

3. Even when we obey God’s commands and instructions perfectly and without delay, he often still calls us to wait upon him for further instructions.

4. Make no mistake, Our God is a consuming fire and he will not be sold out as a dry and lifeless ember as some would seek to have him be.

5. When God is giving instruction to leaders that he has placed over his people, he often does so for a great amount of time that they may be duly prepared for the difficult business he is about to employ them in.

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wilderness1

In Exodus 23:20-33, God gives Moses and His people instructions and promises about how to obtain the land to which he was taking them.  They had already been in the wilderness for some time.  Here, they are promised a home and great blessings.  They are given a guide and a few contingencies at the front of their conquest.  Let’s consider this.

In verse 20, God promises to send a guide to go before His people.  The guide is described as an angel and his job was to bring them to the place God had prepared for them to go and to live.  Some believe this angel was the preincarnate Christ.  Regardless, they were commanded three things pertaining to this angel guide.  They were told to pay careful attention, obey his voice, and to not rebel against him.  Their failure to do these three essential things in their attitude and behavior toward this guide would result in his failure to forgive them for it.  The reason given was that God’s name was “in him.”

The promises for obedience were guidance (23:20), possession of a good land in which to live (23:23-24), blessed food, water, healing of sickness, fruitful wombs, long life (23:25-26), and victory over many kinds of different, powerful, strong enemies (23:22, 27-28).  The victory was to be a slower, more gradual take over rather than an all at once overcoming of their many enemies.  The text says, “little by little,” as they were growing in number and moving into the new land, God would drive their enemies out.

Finally, in verses 32-33, they are given one final warning against idolatry.

Here, we find not only the instructions for the success of the people searching for the promise land, but also the skeleton outline for the life of every successful Christian.

When we are called out of the wilderness and into the promised place God is preparing for us, we are given a guide.  His name is Jesus Christ and we are called to pay careful attention to Him (and Him alone), obey His voice (His sheep know His voice), and to not rebel against him.  If we fail to pay attention to Him, disobey Him, and rebel against Him those actions are indicative of refusing Christ as Our Lord.  If we refuse Christ, we forfeit the forgiveness and grace he offers and will not be pardoned for our sin. Because he is the Way as well as our guide, to refuse Him is to forfeit all of the blessings that following offers.

If, on the other hand, we do pay attention, obey, and not rebel, we are promised victory, protection, the bread and water of life, healing, fruitfulness in regeneration, and life everlasting.  Our victory, like theirs, is little by little.  All throughout this life through many toils and snares, we are moving toward the promised land of eternal life; the place He has prepared for us.  We are growing and our enemies are being eradicated little by little by God Himself on our behalf as we become sanctified thus gaining victory over sin in our own lives.   No other gods are permitted during any part of this journey.

How gracious a God we serve to give such tender care and guidance to us as we walk home through this worldly wilderness!  We are his children and he will fight for us if we but pay attention, obey him, and stop rebelling against him with our sin.  What a beautiful picture of Our Father’s mercy we have in Exodus 23.

 

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Have you ever felt all by yourself?  I have.  Yesterday was one of those days.  I picked up my Bible first thing and read Isaiah 59.  Instead of giving me life, I allowed the Enemy to steal the encouragement of the Word and accuse me with it.  If I had just stopped at verse 1 and meditated, I think I would have had a different kind of day.

Behold, the Lord‘s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,
    or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; ~Isaiah 59:1

It’s verse 2 that did me in.

but your iniquities have made a separation
    between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you
    so that he does not hear. ~Isaiah 59:2

The condemnation I felt as I read this was overwhelming.  Being in a place where justice is not evident and wrongs have not been righted personally, it was easy for the Enemy to use that against me and bring accusation and discouragement.

Despite the fact that we all sin, to feel as though God is not hearing or acting on our behalf because we are separating ourselves by our own sinfulness is quite a place of despair – especially when you’re not really sure what sin it could possibly be.  Still, this is the reality for us all until Christ saves us.  After we are made right with Him, however, he hears us.  He acts upon on behalf.  He forgives our sin and he guides us in all truth.

The people Isaiah is speaking to here are not right with God.  They may be His covenant people, but they are not acting in accordance with his order.  Verses 3-8 describe their sin in detail.  They are speaking lies, making trouble, harming one another and they are failing to call for justice and plead for truth.  They are doing wrong and they are refusing to do right.  These are the reasons God will not listen to them or bring justice to them.

Therefore justice is far from us,
    and righteousness does not overtake us;
we hope for light, and behold, darkness,
    and for brightness, but we walk in gloom. ~Isaiah 59:9

Therefore – because of these reasons and all your wrongdoing, lack of concern for righteousness and justice – because of this, justice for you is far away; righteousness is not with you.

Truth is lacking,
    and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.

The Lord saw it, and it displeased him
    that there was no justice. ~Isaiah 59:15

Truth is lacking.  That is a powerful statement.  When truth is lacking, much evil follows.  Even those who sought truth and stopped sinning had a hard lot.  They became prey for those who did not repent.  The Lord saw this.  The Lord was greatly concerned for this particular society of people.  The most offensive thing to God was perhaps not even the sin itself – it was that there was no justice.  There was no judgement.  No repentance.  No reconciliation.  God longed to be made right with these people but there was not even a shred of repentance.  Their hearts were as hard as ever.

He saw that there was no man,
    and wondered that there was no one to intercede;
then his own arm brought him salvation,
    and his righteousness upheld him. ~Isaiah 59:16

Here is most powerful verse in the entire chapter.  God saw that there was no one – no man fit, no one righteous, no one who cared.  God did not throw up his hands or shrug his shoulders.  God did it himself!!!  How glorious!  Sin abounded, yet grace abounded all the more!!!  Matthew Henry says it this way:

“Since magistrates and societies for reformation fail of doing their part, one will not do justice nor the other call for it, God will let them know that he can do it without them when his time shall come thus to prepare his people for mercy, and then the work of deliverance shall be wrought by the immediate operations of the divine Providence on men’s affections and affairs.”

To whom shall God perform this goodness?  This mercy?  To whom will he bring justice?

“And a Redeemer will come to Zion,
    to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord. ~Isaiah 59:20

The Redeemer will come to those who turn from transgression.  Those who turn!  Those who repent!  Those who turn their eyes upon Jesus!  Amen!  God makes a way for sinners!  He does not cast us out!  He does not shun and avoid us!  He does not condemn and accuse us!  He saves us!  That is encouraging!

And the promises are laid upon Christ and his bride.  The church will continue always until the end of time and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it!  Amen!

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courage

Sunday school commences and my big kid husband reads the parable of the talents.  Between giggles and coos my thoughts on God suddenly become impeccably clear.

He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ ~ Matthew 25:24-30

The servant was “afraid.”

As the story was read, the main idea became crystal clear to me.  Fear is not and will not be an acceptable excuse to not invest in the things God has placed in our hands.  Fear does not justify us in sins of omission.

The servant who justified himself by claiming fear was judged wicked and lazy by his master.  R.C. Sproul notes that,  “The third servant was unwilling to do the work of investing the talent for the benefit of another.”

What, then, does that mean for those of us who struggle to use our hands, feet, voices, and abilities for God due to fear, worry, and anxiety?  What does the Bible teach us and how we are to overcome?

It means we must overcome fear.  The Bible teaches us that there is no fear in love.  When we love our Master, we do His will by investing ourselves and our gifts in His priorities – namely His people. We are to do this despite our fears. We are to do this despite our failure.  We are to do it despite our weaknesses, weariness, and worries.  When we love our Master, we do His will by investing ourselves and the gifts he has given to us against all odds.  Christians are called to be courageous.  Cowards, on the other hand, are listed among those who take their places in the second death.

When one fears God or men in an unhealthy way rather than loving Him and them truly, he will fail to serve either rightly.  That one will continually justify and excuse himself on the basis of fear.  Likewise, if we use fear as the reason for our lack of investment in God’s gifts and His people, we will be sorely judged on the basis of disobedience and unfaithfulness in what we were given.

We must overcome fear because we know that while it may indeed be a reason for our stagnancy, it is not and never will be a reasonable excuse for it.  The question we must cease asking immediately is then, “How can I justify my lack of investment?”  We must change our focus from the problem (fear) to the solution (Christ) and begin to ask rather, “How can I overcome my fear through Christ and begin to invest earnestly?”

The answer is found in believing and applying the promises of God and dismissing the reasons and justifications of the world’s wisdom.  Because courage is required of Christians on a daily basis, we must understand what courage looks like and how it feels.  Courage is not the lack of fear or anxiety.  Courage is being afraid and anxious but trusting more in God to do whatever He is instructing me anyway.  God did not place gifts, abilities, opportunities, and, most importantly, people, in our laps for us to hide from and avoid.

Fear is unbelief and distrust of the Master.  Though we may experience fear frequently, He has been faithful to give us the resolution to it.  Consider His many promises and be free from fear:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me. ~Psalm 23:4

For I, the Lord your God,
    hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
    I am the one who helps you.” ~Isaiah 41:3

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. ~2 Timothy 1:7

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid? ~Psalm 27:1

 So we can confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper;
    I will not fear;
what can man do to me?” ~Hebrews 13:6

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. ~John 14:27

casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. ~1 Peter 5:7

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. ~1 John 4:18

 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” ~John 16:33

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry,“Abba! Father!” ~Romans 8:15

When I am afraid,
    I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
    in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
    What can flesh do to me? ~Psalm 56:3-4

Though an army encamp against me,
    my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
    yet I will be confident. ~Psalm 27:3

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. ~Matthew 10:29-31

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”~ Joshua 1:9

There are many more examples of our Master giving us hope and courage to overcome fear in the Bible, but I am going to be focusing on each of these particular scriptures  individually  in context over the next few weeks to explore exactly what kind of assurance He has given us despite our fear in this world, what kind of faith He is calling us to live out, and what courage in the face of fear really looks like practically.

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eggs

I heard part of a sermon on marriage yesterday and something the man said, well, as my oldest daughter would say, “punched me in the face.” The preacher said, “Marriage provides the security to deny independence.”

As I drove on, I heard the concept of self-sufficiency come up three more times in different ways and I really felt that the Lord was pressing this idea upon my heart.

All I could think of was our culture’s obsession with individualism and independence.  Beyonce made a song about it a decade ago and I still cringe every time I hear it.  The message?  I do not need you, man.  I do not need anyone.  I can get it all on my own and I prefer to be that way.  Independence is power and I need nothing else.  Self-sufficiency and independence are not only idols, but gods of the majority in our culture today.

But what is the alternative?

Dependence.  Needing others.  Needing help.  Trusting another person with the deep things as well as the daily.  From finances to feelings, many marriages fall by bowing to the god of independence.  Dependence is not popular, at least not here in pull yourself up by your bootstraps, independent America.

It got me to thinking about not only my own marriage, but the fact that Christ chose the church to be his bride.  He chose marriage as the symbol of his relationship towards his people.  Dependence is a huge part of being a Christian.  Oops. There I go again saying things no one wants to hear.  The truth is that no one can be saved apart from total dependence on the work of Christ.  No one can live in line with the gospel apart from dependence on Christ.

I have two examples stirring in my mind to illustrate these realities: the insecure wife and the overprotective mom.

The Insecure Wife

I have never been a particularly good cook.  I’m not as bad as I used to be but, well, ok I suck at cooking for the most part.  I remember early in our marriage, my husband would often stop at his mom’s house to eat on the way home from work.  One could hardly blame him, and a lot of it was just part of transitioning from being a 19 year old at home to a 19 year old in his own home, but as a new wife it was very discouraging.  Often I would avoid cooking altogether because I did not want to risk rejection over it again.

As time went on and when I did cook, he would come into the kitchen and offer “suggestions.”  I am not sure if that was more or less worse than just not showing up, but it did not make for happy meals.  I would not take his advice because I was proud.  I would not take his advice because I was insecure.  Instead, I would get mad feeling like a failure and wondering why he just could not see my effort.

Now, when he walks into the kitchen and offers help, I pinch myself to see if I am dreaming.  I am grateful and welcoming his help.  I delegate as much as possible when my husband comes in to give me assistance.  When I place a meal in front of him – even if it is sub-par, he compliments and thanks me.

What changed?

The maturity level changed.  We stopped clinging to the independence and selfish rights we believed we had.  His suggestions transformed from condescension to servant-hood.  My focus changed from duty, obligation, and approval to how I can best please the one I love.

My error with cooking was one of inexperience, insecurity, and ignorance.  There is another way to err on the opposite side of this coin, though.  It is realized in trusting in self as well.  Have you ever seen a helicopter mom?

The Helicopter Mom

This is the overprotective mom who does absolutely everything for her (often only) child.  The child does not fail because mom never allows him to get that far on his own.  She does literally everything in order to “protect” him and create a facade of having a responsible child or, even, husband.

When a woman does this in her family, she frustrates and cripples her children.  She disrespects and emasculates her husband.  When she does this at work or in the church, she exacerbates those around her and they give up trying to contribute.  This woman does not understand that responsibility must be given in order to be learned.

There are many people who never get to maturity regarding dependence.  Both in marriage and in the church, we often get stuck in the “I need help but do not want it” martyrdom camp because of pride or insecurity or both.  We fail to realize that dependence is paramount.  It is never a matter of needing help vs. being able to do things individually as much as it is a matter of reflecting our dependence and need for Christ by recognizing our dependence and need for other people.  It is a rejection of the idol of self-sufficiency and an acceptance of a faith which requires humility.  Humility hears suggestions as help rather than hate or hurt.  This is counter-cultural.  No one is teaching their daughters to depend on a man these days – and perhaps for good reason.  No one is teaching women how to let their children fail for the greater good of learning responsibility anymore.  But the church must not forsake the practice of interdependence and learned responsibility based on cultural norms.

Maturity is often rooted in dependence.  The world will tell you just the opposite.  Dependence is often rooted in maturity.  The world will tell you just the opposite.  When we throw away the idols of insecurity, pride, approval, individualism, and self-centered thinking, our families – both church and home – will thrive.

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heart

I am indecisive.

He tells me to write something.

 I ask why.

 He reminds me that I like to.

 I oblige.  The following is the fruit of that exchange.

Sometimes it helps me when I write.  But sometimes it is hard.  Sometimes I am at a loss for how to say what is on my heart.  Sometimes I know exactly how to say it but I do not want to.  Pouring out your heart and soul and dreams and fears and failures on the daily is scary.  You either have to resolve to not care how people read you or you have to care so much that you resolve to make your scribblings absolutely perfect with a willingness to correct them when they misinterpret you.  Sometimes it just feels like no one is really listening anyway.  Like those things that mean the very most to you, those things you’ve said and written and tried six ways from Sunday to express go wholly unnoticed and unheard.  Writing is like shouting out to all the world your deepest feelings only to let them float unabashedly through the air.  And you’re waiting.  Waiting for someone – anyone – to catch them; hear them; learn from them; know God through them; seek him…and know you; understand you; feel you.

So often those words don’t work, though.  It is like you are pouring yourself out all the time and the only thing that keeps you from becoming empty is to keep pouring out.  Even still, after all the words have floated away for days and months and years on end, you are left wondering whether you are yet altogether unknown; misunderstood; unaccomplished.  Who knows where the words have gone?  The writer prays for the somewheres where they might have fallen.

Sometimes I do not know myself as well as I would like to.  Writing helps me know myself better.  It helps me understand myself and who I am and why I am feeling happy or sad or frustrated or lost.  It helps me organize my thoughts on God, on life, and on who I really am and what I know as truth.

There is one thing writing does not do, though.  Writing does not talk back.  As much as I try to personify my notebook, she remains silent.  Writing does not talk back.  It only listens.  It is lonely.  I guess that’s why I write a lot about the Bible.  It is like God is talking and I am listening.  My writing is just me telling the world what I heard.

I am happy that God has given me this gift to write but sometimes I am sad that I cannot seem to say things audibly instead.  I feel so closed and unable to speak freely sometimes; many times.  I do not know why I am so afraid.  The fear I feel when I think about talking out loud about what is in my heart is often so strong that it makes me almost run away and hide.  I am so afraid.  I want to pray and tell God so many things but I am afraid to say them out loud.  Saying them makes them real and maybe I just wish they were not real.  So I often just pray about being able to pray.  I do not run away anymore.  I stop and I write it down instead.

I guess my biggest fear is rejection. That God or men will hear what is in my heart and what is most important to me and throw it away.  Or not care.  Or disregard it altogether.  Or hate me for saying it.  But why would I think that?

I think it because it is what happened to the most right and truthful one of us all:  Jesus.  It is what has been happening to me in many ways my entire life.  Because people reject truth and lack grace, I distrust and doubt the God who made them and somehow believe he will do that same thing.  Once I gave a man a paper with the gospel and he physically threw it down and trampled it in front of me.  But if I trust the God of the Bible I believe that even that kind of act – be it physical, relational, or otherwise – is a blessing working in my favor.

I digress.

Vulnerability is what the writer’s heart is made of.  Vulnerability is what God’s heart is made of.  He, too, chose written words to deliver his deepest messages to us.  He sent the One He loved most and watched him suffer in order to save.  And people throw his best efforts away.  We do not care about his words like we should; sometimes not at all.  We disregard Him altogether.  Some hate Him for saying  his best words and we even crucified his exact representation.  Yet, He spoke them still.  He speaks them still. He sent Him still.  He sends us still.

Maybe my written words will somehow send those same messages to someone.  The messages of love and forgiveness and grace and truth.  Maybe I will suffer long to find those just right words I have been called to write.  Maybe He will save through them; through Christ in me.  I dare to believe that hope every single day. It is the often only thought that keeps me from utter discouragement.  I lift my pen and let the words float away in greatest hope and terrible fear.  My prayer is ever, “God, please bless this trembling writer’s work once again.”

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lives

Lives matter.  Isn’t that what all the hullabaloo is about these days?  Really?  In the year 2016 humans are still having to be told that life matters.  Is the agenda simply concerned with schooling us on which lives really matter most?  Or are the lives that everyone that is shouting about lives that are largely devalued by the majority?  And why does it seem like there is an elephant named stereotyping standing in every room full of fighters?

It started with “black lives matter.”  No doubt they certainly do.  Some take the statement of this obvious truth to imply that the rest of lives – those that belong to we who are not black – matter less.  Hence, the hashtag “all lives matter.”  Or what about the people group indicted by the “black lives matter” community?  As Chick-fil-A contends, “police lives matter,” too.  It has become a war about which lives are paramount.  And where there’s a war, there are no winners.  There are only  bleeders.

All the buzz, forgive me, has me a bit confused.  It’s one of those things I begin to think about and then look up to see if anyone else’s face reads as puzzled as mine.  We’re bleeding out all over America because we have been asked to pick a corner and fight over a fundamental truth that should be quite obvious.  Life matters immensely.  .

Don’t get me wrong, the issues are real.  There are bad cops.  There are racist people.  There are works of evil all around us all day, every day.  If there is anything anyone can do to shed light on the abuses against innocent victims, I’m all for it.  But, America, let’s at least be ambitious enough to uncover what is at the bottom of our outrage.

All of these thoughts swirled though my subconscious last night at the theater as I watched the movie “Risen.”  It was a fictional story about a Roman soldier who was alive during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  In that time and place, perhaps the hashtag would have read “Jewish lives matter.”  Maybe it would have said “disciples lives matter” or “soldiers lives matter.”  I don’t know for sure but I do know one thing.  Then, as well as now, many people were wrongfully abused, injured, and murdered at the hands of the authorities of both church and state.

 Think about that for a moment.  Let it sink in.  Like the Bible says, there is nothing new under the sun.

But let’s get back to the movie.  Jesus shows up and he, claiming to be God, does not fight for the value of his own life to be recognized by those who hate him.  He does quite the opposite.  Instead, to those who love him, he teaches his example of self-abasement, humility, and how to consider others better than themselves.  To that end I ask, is that what we are doing, America?  Because it seems like there is a lot of finger pointing going on and none of it ever points inwardly.  We, who want justice, are just as responsible for valuing life as those we are shouting at.  And honestly, our own self is the only person we have the power to change.

As Christians, we should never minimize or ignore the suffering of others.  The truth is that every life was created by God and that is what makes every life intrinsically, immeasurably valuable.  That means nothing can make us more or less valuable.  Not our skin tone, our profession, or our age.  Neither our social status, salary, smarts, or even our sins.

The young black man who is shot by a middle aged white cop is certainly no less valuable than the young white cop who is shot by a middle aged black man.  We, as honest people, see the tragedy of both situations as equally horrific.

When our forefathers wrote that all men were created equal, I do not know what they originally meant.  I do know that the concept of human equality is borrowed capital from the Christian Bible.  What that means is that at the cross, the black man is equal with the white as is the woman with the man; the thief with the philanthropist; the adulterous with the virgin; the drunkard with the sober; the unborn baby with the ninety year-old.

Every life matters to the God who created them all.  He shows no partiality.  None.  If we follow him, every life must matter to us as well.  Anger does not win people and cause them to stop doing evil; believing evil; being evil.  Civil societal wars won’t save the lives being snuffed out daily.  Picking sides will only divide us further.  Instead, we must learn who we are.  We were made in God’s image and that is why we are all to be highly valued by one another.

Your addicted neighbor is valuable.  Pray for him.  The coworker who treats you poorly every day is valuable.  Show her love.  The waitress who got your order wrong is valuable.  Tip her well.  The man who spoke ill of you to everyone you know is valuable.  Forgive him.  The girl who always dresses inappropriately is valuable.  Teach her.  The wealthy man running for president who acts like an utter fool is valuable.  Do not hate him.  The mad black woman shouting about how valuable her life is is right.  Respect her.

It is easy to take up a cause and start shouting.  It is hard to live out a life of love toward fellow sinners day in and day out.  Nevertheless, that is what we must do.  That is the solution.  Love saves lives one at a time.  That is our job.  We must stop letting our differences divide us and pray.  Stop carrying torches and shouting about which lives you prefer and prefer them all in the sphere of your very own life.  Place value on those you least love for the sake of both solidarity and sanctification.  We are all yet students.

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