Saturday, April 7, 2007

Not Now

[Jesus said,] “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” (Matthew 25:13)

None of us know when Christ will return. All efforts to try to predict when it will be have failed. The Bible tells us He will come “as a thief in the night.” We know neither the day nor the hour.

In the face of this, we need to busy ourselves getting ready. We need to live out our faith each moment as if it were our last. Martin Luther reminds us of the urgency of this, when he writes:

“How soon not now becomes never.”

It’s not too late to live in faith. Not yet. But you never know when it will be.

Friday, April 6, 2007

The Son of God

The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. (Matthew 26:63-64a)

"Either Jesus was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But don't make up any patronizing nonsense about His being a just great human teacher." (C.S. Lewis)

Thursday, April 5, 2007

A Good Servant

[Jesus said] “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” (John 12:26)

A good servant knows his Master so well he can anticipate his needs. He is right there when his Master wants something. In the same way, true disciples of Christ know him so well, that they do just what he wants even before he asks, and they are always be ready to respond when he speaks.

Jesus modeled this for us when he washed the feet of the disciples. Peter’s response was much like ours would be. God’s Messiah shouldn’t be washing feet – he should be marching into Jerusalem to claim victory, to free God’s people. He shouldn’t be on his knees with a towel around his waist. He should be sitting on a throne, with people kneeling at his feet.

Jesus told Peter, and tells us – if we don’t let him be your servant, we can have no part of him. This is who he is – God’s servant. And if we want to follow him, we have to do be a servants too.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Complete Abstinence

The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of separation to the LORD as a Nazirite, he must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or from other fermented drink. He must not drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins. As long as he is a Nazirite, he must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, not even the seeds or skins.” (Numbers 6:1-4)

Our Presbyterian tradition has generally accepted the Stoic ethic of “everything in moderation.” This is true for a variety of behaviors, including the use of alcohol. A Presbyterian can be a social drinker and still be true to his/her faith tradition.

But this doesn’t work for everybody. Some of us have such addictive personalities that we need to run from certain substances and particular behaviors like the plague. For us, the words of St. Augustine especially ring true --

“Complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.”

Not only is complete abstinence easier, it is sometimes it is totally necessary.

{Dedicated to a friend who just celebrated his 18th year anniversary of being clean and sober.}

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

A Reasonable Faith

[Jesus] said, “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Many people today claim that faith has little or nothing to do with reason. They believe scientific “facts” have taken the place of “superstitious” faith and that, as a result of this, we better understand the world we live in.

But the notion of faith is contrary to reason is just not true. Faith does not restrict reason. It goes beyond it. With faith, we catch a glimpse what can not be seen otherwise. As C.S. Lewis put it --

"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."

Faith is not unreasonable. Faith not only builds on reason, but gives us a reason to reason. Otherwise, what reason do we have to think?

Monday, April 2, 2007

The Price of Healing

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. (Luke 17:15)

The healing and wholeness Jesus offered people of his time (and us today) cost nothing but the willingness to be healed. We only need to admit that we are sick, that we are broken and come to him. The best way to pay for the healing touch of Christ is not with money, but with praise.

One of our Puritan ancestors – Thomas Watson – once wrote:

"Christ is the most cheap physician, he takes no fee. He desires us to bring nothing to him but broken hearts; and when he has cured us he desires us to bestow nothing on him but our love."

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Finding Each Other

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. (Luke 10:33-34)

"Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat... We must find each other.” (Mother Teresa)