To Follow Jesus
My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.
March/April 2016 Issue – Straight from the Heart, ‘I have you in my heart … all of you share God’s grace with me’ Philippians 1:7
The text set for today’s reading and meditation:
Philippians 2:14-16 (NIVUK): ”Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’
Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labour in vain.”
We are children of God in a warped and crooked generation. As I looked at the news on TV, Internet and the newspaper; I found a lot of articles on religion, which is to be expected given that’s it the Easter weekend.
A number of the articles fell into two broad groups; one, the ‘intellectual’ persecution of Christian living in the western world, that is, there was thinly veiled criticism of the influence of ‘traditional’ bible-centric religion; the second group of articles covered physical persecution of Christians in developing countries: a strange mix.
However, there was also a number of excellent Easter messages from the heads of different churches that were broadcast. Perhaps, the image of a crucified, innocent man may still cause many hearts to pause and think about life.
In today’s study, Selwyn writes: “Paul bears down again on the need for true authentic living. It’s an issue that is so important he has to return to it again and again. And it’s the same in our day too.
How many Christian communities would be transformed if people stopped grizzling and griping and disputing among themselves? Nothing brings Christians to a dead halt more quickly than their inability to get along with one another. … As disciples and followers of Jesus we need to take care to shine in the darkness, not to add to the blackness by our unchristian attitudes. … We live in a universe made dark by sin. Let’s knock holes in the darkness.”
One area of dispute amongst Christians is on the interpretation of Scripture; it’s becoming obvious to me that not many people have a good overall view of the Bible (both Old and New Testament) – they know some verses – but they appear to lack a coherent view of the entire picture.
For example, there is a lot of confusion about such matters as ‘judgment’ – we are called not to judge a person’s spiritual status before God – but we are called to make judgments concerning actions (and there are many verses that support this view in the New Testament); this distinction is not recognised by many, ‘educated’ Christians.
Oh, and one other example – God is love (agape). Too many people get confused with a love that is sexual in nature (eros) or affection (family or friends) (philia). In the New Testament, the commandments to love God and our neighbour – the Greek word ‘agape’ is always used – it’s pure, sacrificial love – nothing less.
Finally, if someone quotes a law from Leviticus and asks why I don’t obey it – I just point them to the Letter to the Hebrews – and tell them to read it, over and over; until they understand that the Old Covenant does not apply to a Christian.
Hebrews 8:6-7, 13: “But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. … By calling this covenant ‘new’, he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.”