Friday, March 4, 2011

Don't be so judgmental and legalistic...

A post by Scott Jamison got me thinking this week. It's so common to throw around the words "judgmental" and "legalistic" any time there is a discussion wrestling with how to live in this world without being "of the world", or with developing friendships with sinnners but not "friendship with the world."

If we discuss our discomfort with specific types of entertainment or concern about an issue, we might be accused of being too concerned about things that don't matter and not focused enough on love.

Yet a person wrestling with these things may not be finger pointing or judging others at all. There may be a battle going on in a person who wants to, like Paul:

"count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that comes which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith--

that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and my share in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus...

and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you." Philippians 3:8-15

To many people, "counting everything loss" and "forgetting what lies behind" means turning their backs on many painful things that are in their past life before meeting Jesus--drinks, joints, vulgar movies, steamed up back seat windows, sensual music, ungodly philosophies, to name a few.

To them "pressing on" means seeking and being involved in things that point them to Jesus and our life with him.

So if someone says or posts something that might seem legalistic or judgmental, keep in mind that it may not be legalistic or judgmental at all, but rather an honest attempt to keep the faith and be ready when Jesus comes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Things Unfolding

I loved this devotion from Tim Tomlinson, President of Bethlehem College and Seminary.
The Second Coming of Christ always stirs up different kinds of emotions in me: hopefulness, comfort, contrition...Any others?

With all of the political turmoil and potential explosiveness happening in Egypt, Libya, and several other countries in the Middle East, and even nearby Wisconsin, it is both understandable and easy to begin to worry about the future. What happens there will surely have an impact on the rest of the world to one degree or another.

The temptation when such potentially cataclysmic events occur is to be anxious about our own well-being and that of our families. As natural as that is, it is still an inappropriate reaction on our part. The Lord has not called us to a spirit of fear, but rather one of absolute faith in His sovereignty over all the earth. Whatever kind of earthly crisis or disaster you fear or become anxious about, the only solution is to remind ourselves of the absolute authority of the Lord over all things.

"John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so, Amen. I am the Alpha and Omega, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty" (Revelation 1:4-8).

Six observations from this passage which help me deal rightly with earthly worries are:
  1. The Lord is eternal. He was, he is, and he will be forever!
  2. Jesus Christ is the ruler of the kings of the earth--whether they worship him or not.
  3. Jesus loves us and has, therefore, freed us from our sins by his blood. This fact alone is more important and crucial for our well-being than any other thing in the universe!
  4. We serve a God who is glorious and who has dominion over all things forever.
  5. One day he will return to earth in the clouds and everyone who has rejected him will finally see him for who he really is--and they will be terribly sorry.
  6. The Lord God is the beginning and the end of all things. He is the Almighty God!

May you and I trust wholly in the sovereign God of the universe and rest completely in him.