Forgiven

In Christian circles you hear a lot about belief and faith. There is a certain body of knowledge that a person has to accept as true in order to become a Christian. When teaching – even when going verse by verse through a book of the Bible – it is easy to just concentrate on facts. For example, these are the attributes of God; the church at this or that place was having this particular problem; Jesus said such and such. However, James points out that true faith is much more than acknowledging facts. Faith is acting on what we say we believe. We must apply what we know.

Seeing Reality

Have you ever had the experience of walking somewhere at night and being scared by something you saw? You saw a shadow and thought that something, or somebody, was going to jump out at you. Or, perhaps you saw what looked like eyes staring at you. Your fight or flight mechanism started to kick in. You took another step only to discover that the shadow you saw was cast by some harmless object or the eyes you thought saw were really only a harmless reflection. You feared because you couldn’t see things as they really were. Your perception was distorted.

Reenacting the New Covenant

No doubt we are all very familiar with the passage in 1st Corinthians 11: “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26 NIV)

Number One

Many people live by the philosophy that you have to look out for ‘number one.’ Number one, of course, is themselves. They justify it by another saying. “If you don’t look out for yourself, no one else will.” What it really boils down to is selfishness. We want to have our own way. We want to satisfy our own desires. We want to live for ourselves.

Unless a Seed Dies

No one likes to go through pain and suffering. But sometimes pain and suffering is absolutely necessary in order to obtain a desired outcome. Jesus put it this way, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:24-25 NIV)

Freedom

We consider ourselves a free people. But, what is freedom? Freedom really has no meaning except in contrast to its opposite. In a political context it means not being subjected to tyranny or oppression. In a social context it means not being bound by convention or peer pressure. When we speak of religious freedom we mean the ability to practice our faith and worship according to our own understanding and conscience without interference or threat.

Christ, Who Is Our Life

People define themselves in different ways. For example, one person might think of himself as an athlete. In his own mind, that’s who he is. Someone else might think of himself as a businessman. He defines himself in terms of his business. Yet another person might define herself as a mother. She is wrapped up in her children. We all tend to pigeonhole, not only ourselves, but each other by physical characteristics, personality traits or career choices.

Our Mediator

The concept of rights is extremely prevalent in our American culture. To an extent our whole society is founded on the concept of rights. It is enshrined in phrases like “inalienable rights” which is found in the Declaration of Independence. The Constitution contains the Bill of Rights. We are conditioned to think of our rights. The problem with rights is that they demand. If something is a right then, by definition it (whatever it happens to be, from the right of assembly to women’s rights) belongs to us. We get quarrelsome when someone does not recognize that something is ours.

A Living Parable

Just before He died, Jesus taught His disciples an interactive parable. True, the Scriptures do not call it a parable. But Jesus took some very ordinary, day-to-day items and used them to illustrate some profound spiritual truths. True, Jesus did not give this teaching in the form of a story. But nevertheless it is a living story which is still playing out in our lives today.

Outside the Box

When our children were in High School, there was a phrase that sort of became the motto or mantra of the teachers in the English Department. It was “Think outside the box!” By ‘thinking outside the box’ they did not mean original thought or thinking for oneself. What they really meant by that phrase was that they expected the kids to accept and agree with the box that the teachers themselves lived in. In the name of freedom they were asking the children to accept the bondage of the teacher’s world-view.

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