Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Jesus is the answer...always

"Because dehumanization may be a message of war, but it’s never the message of the Gospel." ~Ann Voskamp.

This made my heart pound a bit, kind of cut a bit deep.

Before I start I must say, this isn't a post of self-condemnation (in case you feel the need to comfort me or something). But rather this is an awakening. God pulls us up about things and something inside just it an inner conviction if you like.

Oh my goodness, how easy it is to fall into a trap!

Much as I've been determined not to, I've picked up some bad habits. They kind of sneak up on you and I need to nip it in the bud before it flowers.

I think I've veered recently towards wearing my religious, pious clothes to cover up the fact that I'm not perfect.  Instead it's Jesus who covers my imperfection with his love.

Too often recently I've mentally pointed the finger dismissively at a group of people that I feel aren't living up to BIBLICAL STANDARDSTM; privately perhaps, but once hatred rears it's head... When in truth it's Jesus alone who lives up to the standard...and I certainly don't.

Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Matt 9:13

Too often I'm like the pharisee saying, "Thank you Lord that I'm not like XYZ..." (Luke 18:9-12). When Jesus replies, "Well then you need to be humbled".

Too often I find I'm reacting to news in fear and a state of self-protection.  When Jesus tells me to live in love with an open heart and hand.

I've subconsciously dehumanised those I feel are somehow less worthy, less good, less 'Christian' than me.  When God loves the whole world.

I think I've fallen into the trap that Isaiah bemoaned, those who fall into the trap of acting all holy
but aren't actually practically lifting a finger to help those who need it (which is the real definition of holiness).

"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." James 1:27.

Isaiah said (Ch. 58:5ff),  

You humble yourselves
    by going through the motions of penance,
bowing your heads
    like reeds bending in the wind.
You dress in burlap
    and cover yourselves with ashes.
Is this what you call fasting?
[Note: for modern application, insert whatever activity/speech makes us think we look particularly perfectly 'Christian' here]
    Do you really think this will please the Lord?
“No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
    lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
    and remove the chains that bind people.
Share your food with the hungry,
    and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
    and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
“Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
    and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
    and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
    ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
    Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10 Feed the hungry,
    and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
    and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
    giving you water when you are dry
    and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like an ever-flowing spring.
12 Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
    Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
    and a restorer of homes.

I ask myself, am I living the gospel - the GOOD NEWS?  Or am I proclaiming bad news?  Do I dwell on the bad news? Do I think other people are the 'bad news'?

Am I speaking the truth in love (Eph 4:15)? Am I being a peacemaker (Matt 5:9)? Am I reacting in fear or in love (1 John 4:18)? Am I casting stones from inside my glass house? (John 8:7)?

Would someone who hears me speak or reads what I write be fearful of visiting my church or sharing their struggles with me?  Do I offer the hope of Jesus?  Do I?  It's something I need to ponder more.

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