“God’s interpreters”

Selwyn introduces today’s study with these words: “Another special feature of Jesus’ character was His ability to unfold the nature of God to the people with whom He came into contact.” He goes on to make these statements: “Some of us, however, by our insensitivity and lack of understanding, can interfere with the spirit and purpose of Christ … You and I are either interpreters of Christ or interferers. We represent either the cure or the disease.”

Here are some of the verses, set for reading and meditation, (John 1:6-18, NLT): “God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’”

From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.”

On one has ever seen God the Father, but we can demonstrate His love to others – through our relationship with Jesus.

Selwyn’s prayer for today, is special: “O God my Father, we will never be able to interpret You to others in the way that You Son did, but help me this day to interpret You in every way I can. Shine in me and through me, dear Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

It’s such a wondrous thing to reflect the living God; who is living in us, to others – bringing them into His kingdom, through His power.  Such an amazing prayer – don’t you agree?

‘Without spot or blame’

Selwyn, ‘spends one more day considering how Jesus made the good confession before Pontius Pilate. … As we stand for truth we, too, are certain to meet opposition. There will, similarly, be those who could, if they wished, come to our aid, but because of self interest they will prefer to wash their hands of us and hand us over to others. … Maintaining a good confession will mean a cross. But, as before, our Master walks ahead of us, looks back over His shoulder, and says: ‘I did it, and so, in My strength, can you. Come on, follow me.’

I liked verses 3-6, from the verses set for today’s reading and meditation (2 Corinthians 13:1-10, NLT), as follows: “I (Paul) will give you all the proof you want that Christ speaks through me. Christ is not weak when he deals with you; he is powerful among you. Although he was crucified in weakness, he now lives by the power of God. We, too, are weak, just as Christ was, but when we deal with you we will be alive with him and will have God’s power.

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. As you test yourselves, I hope you will recognize that we have not failed the test of apostolic authority.”

It’s important to hold firm to the belief that Jesus is with us, and He is God – nothing, can overcome His will. Consequently, knowing that God is with us, and because of His great love for us – He will never leave us to face opposition alone. He will say in times of spiritual distress, ‘Here, take My hand and follow My ways – lean on My strength, for I am always with you’.

Do you agree?

Good overwhelmed

I liked Selwyn’s conclusion –  I also believe that we all will face similar situations – and, we have the example set for us, by Jesus –  we have the Holy Spirit who will help us to follow His example.  It helps a lot if we hold out out our hand to take hold of His, when we are going these difficult times; it’s often too late after our time of trial. 

He writes: “I am conscious that some of you reading these lines may have to face a similarly selfish individual (Pontius Pilate) this very day. You may be judged unfairly by someone who shows more concern about his or her own position than yours, who bows to self-interest, and dishonestly distorts the facts of a manner in order to protect himself or herself. Gos knows it is not easy dealing with a situation like that. I urge you nevertheless: stand firm and do as Jesus did – make a good confession (an honest explanation of your position). Jesus kept an unbroken spirit in the midst of it all. He can help you do the same.”

As, has been the case, over the past few days the verses set for reading and meditation are excelllent, Hebrews 13:1-8 (NLT): “Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!

Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies. Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.  Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said,  “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”

Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.

Jesus Christ (God) is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

Selwyn has captured an aspect of Pilate that exposes his prime weakness. Pilate had been given a junior government posting,  if he wanted promotion (and everyone does), he could not afford a negative report being sent back to Rome. His superior officer was based in Syria and if trouble broke out; and, if a Roman Legion was sent to put down a rebellion, Pilate was too junior in rank to command such a group. A more senior Roman army officer would have been sent to take over command. Such an outcome would have caused immense embarrassment to Pilate.

Do we, sometimes follow a line, which we hope may result in the least embarrassment – when we know that doing the right thing may cause us some difficulties – I think, we all go through this type of trial. Do you agree?

Evil on trial

Selwyn discusses the negative aspects of cynicism – in that it refuses to believe in goodness, it (often) sarcastically denies human sincerity or merit, and attributes selfishmotives to all acts. It is interesting that the word is derived from a Greek word, which describes a ‘snarling dog’.  It’s easy to understand why cynicism is so wide-spread in today’s world, because the news media is full of stories that have at their core – selfish acts.

In his conclusion, Selwyn states: “… ‘A cynic’, one writer points out, ‘is usually the product of a culture without real religion’. If that is so then we can expect to meet cynicism in all its various forms in the days that lie ahead. Resist it. View it not just as a cause of aggravation but as evil in one of its most pernicious forms.”

However, we need to be careful with this type of generalisation – we need discernment to see when selfishness is involved and when it is not; the negative aspect of cynicism is the belief that there is no ‘good’ in ANY human activity. An activity, is not evil in itself – it’s the motive that comes from the heart which expresses itself through that activity which determines if it’s evil (an act of rebellion against God) or not. What’s your view?

Blocked by arrogance

I thought the main point made by Selwyn in today’s study (on the self-control and pose of Jesus) was excellent.

He wrote: “We all have to live our lives in the presence of a Pontius Pilate – a person (or people) who seeks to oppose us. … When we confront someone like Pilate, life crimsons into a cross. … If you are the type who always resorts to avoidance, taking the line of least resistance and never making a good confession, then you will never become a resurrected person. No cross, no resurrection. Remember that.”

Do you agree that too many Christians prefer, not to stand in the presence of their ‘Pilate’, and will employ any tactic to avoid such a ‘life-saving’ confrontation?   [‘Life saving’, in the eternal sense!]

‘The good confession’

Selwyn, now looks at another of our Lord’s characteristics – His pose in the midst of pressure and antagonism.

He discusses Jesus’ pose when being questioned by Pontius Pilate.

The same, ‘steadfastness under pressure’, is covered by Paul in his first letter to Timothy.

1 Timothy 6:11-16 (NLT): “But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses.

And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. For at just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. He alone can never die, and he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will. All honor and power to him forever! Amen.”

Did you notice some of the key words from this passage?  ‘So run from all these evil things – pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness – fight the good fight for the true faith – hold tightly to the eternal life, obey this command without wavering.’  The words; ‘run’, ‘pursue’, ‘fight’, ‘hold tightly’, ‘obey – without wavering’; all demonstrate faith in action, and a type of perseverance, which we don’t see much of – in today’s western church – would you agree?

Joy – the Christian’s armour

I really liked Selwyn’s introduction, it follows on from what I was saying yesterday.

“The joy of a Christian can be considered part of the armour of a Christian. Sin insinuates itself more easily into a downcast heart. Jealousy and envy find lodging quickly in a heart that knows no joy. Jesus’ gift of joy secures us against the sins that might trick us. His overflowing joy leaves His followers and apprentices envious of one one. Instead of wanting what others have, they long to share the treasure they have found.”

The reading for today is also good, especially these six verses, John 16:19-24 (NLT): “Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant? I said in a little while you won’t see me, but a little while after that you will see me again. I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world.

So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy. … “

Notice, that no one can rob you of the joy that arises from knowing, and believing in, our resurrected Lord.

Jesus’ love for us was, and continues to be demonstrated to us through His cross; and, as we follow Him – some two thousand years after that event –  we can still have the confidence that His love for us, never ceases. He watches over us, and cares for us – every, living day – do you believe this?