Friday, February 3, 2017

Bowing to the Alter of the Perceived Important with my Back to the Cross



Back in early November, right after Pam and I had voted early, I posted on Facebook; Just voted! Now can this election just end! All National elections are contentious, but in my memory this one had exceeded them all. My hopeful thought was, “Ok, it’s over, can we all just move on!” Based on social media the answer to that is a resounding “NO!” In many ways a divided Nation has become even more divided. On the one side is what many perceive as sore losers (just to be clear, by losers I do not mean they are losers, just that their side came out on the losing end of the election!). On the other side you have….well you have sore winners (for the sake of full disclosure, this does not mean they are winners, just that they were on the winning end of the election!).

The rest of this post is directed at one particular group of individuals. It is directed to those who have committed their lives to Christ. Those whom the Apostle Paul calls “a new creation”, of whom Paul goes on to say “The old has passed away, the new has come.” (2 Cor. 5:17).

For most of us, we can go back to that moment when the new life began, when we threw our proverbial hands in the air, bowed at the foot of The Cross and said; “God, I surrender myself to You, I put my faith and trust in You….” I’ll let you fill in the blank on how it went for you. For me, it took place in the summer of 1966; back then seat-belts were an option, which included an additional cost! We didn’t have them! When we would travel, much of the time I, being the youngest boy, would sit in the middle of the back seat, leaning on the seat in front of me, arms resting, talking and listening to my parents. God blessed me with an awesome set of parents and I liked being near them. On this occasion, as I leaned forward, the gospel became clear to me and I received Christ. How did it happen with you? I ask this question for a reason, I want your mind to go back to that day, to remember it, to think on it, think on what was going through your mind that day. That day you became “a new creation”. For many of us, something began to burn inside of us, we had this desire to tell everyone what Jesus had done for us. But as time went on, that flame seemed to subside and now it at times seems hardly distinguishable. The Apostle Paul was worried that the same thing might happen to his young friend Timothy, so in a letter to him, Paul wrote “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God…” (2 Tim. 1:6). As a camp counselor at Camp IdRaHaJe in the mountains south of Denver, I learned how to start a camp fire; I learned that fanning a flame took effort. It wasn’t enough to just start the fire; on chilly nights, or rainy days, when your main source of warmth was that fire, you did whatever it took to keep it going. You fanned the flame. Should we do any less as a follower of Christ?

As I peruse through the various social media platforms, I am getting the impression that we as believers are fanning the flame alright, but it’s not the flame Paul reminded Timothy to fan. It seems that we are desperate to get a message out, but it’s not the message of The Cross, the only message that carries with it an eternal significance, its other messages. It’s our political viewpoint, our view on the POTUS, the Electoral College, SCOTUS, Black Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter, immigration. Our thoughts on abortion or a woman’s right to choose, on Obamacare or the abolishment of Obamacare…..the list seems at times to be endless. Now please don’t get me wrong, I am not saying these things are not important, each of these items have some importance to them. But we have turned these “important” items into hammers to drive home the nail of our message. With our backs to the cross of Christ, we pound nails into a different cross, one which holds no eternal significance, a cross of divisiveness, a cross that tears apart. The Apostle Paul, in writing to the churches in Galatia, was himself dealing with some divisiveness in the churches. He writes in chapter 5; 13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. Verse 15 seems to be a pretty accurate description of what is happening all too frequently on social media right now, from the biting and devouring to the consuming. How this must grieve the Holy Spirit! Paul writes in his letter the Ephesian believers; 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Shouldn’t this be the overriding principle behind all of our posts? If it is, then we don’t have to worry about the verses immediately following verse 29; 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

I get the impression that we have forgotten what it is we have been commissioned to do. Nowhere in the Gospels are we commissioned to set the world straight on our political view. I do not pretend to know the mind of God, but I am not sure that He gives a rip who we voted for or to which political party we belong. As important as the Pro-life movement is, it must absolutely take a back seat to the Pro-life movement that comes from those that are dead in their trespasses and sin accepting life eternal through Jesus Christ our Savior! And if our Pro-life post leads anyone away from the Cross of Christ, we need to think real hard before we click Post…..wait, let me change that, we need to pray before we click post! I must admit to you, outside of this post, I can’t remember the last time I prayed before I clicked post! Can you? It is no wonder there is a lot of biting and devouring going on out there. We have to do better, I have to do better. Our commission is to 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them I the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” What we post in social media ought to reflect that commission!

Ok, so you have been pretty patient with me as you have read through this post. Perhaps you take issue with some of what I have written. That's fine, to be honest, most of the time when I write posts like this, the vast majority is self-directed. Maybe, just maybe I'm pointing a finger your direction, but 3 are pointed in mine. Can I ask you to do something? Can I ask you to pray? In fact, for those that are able, may I be so bold as to ask you to go to your knees and pray. I have, before I posted this I went to my knees, bowing at the foot of The Cross with my back to ALL else, seeking the face of God Himself. Oh that my life would be pleasing to Him, that my posts would be pleasing to Him, that my replies to others posts would be pleasing to Him. That His light would shine……even on social media!

Desperately wanting to hear “Well Done”,

Jim

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