Saturday, April 14, 2012

Jesus' Unexpected Presence

In my Anglican Church each week, we have four Bible readings.  I write down whatever jumps out at me from each reading, usually a strong sentence or two from the sermon and then see what happens from there... I will start by giving you the reading and then in italics the passage, verse or message that jumps out at me.

The readings for today:-
Vs 3:  With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all  (NIV)

Vs 3:  It's like the dew on Mount Hermon flowing down the slopes of Zion.
   Yes, that's where God commands the blessing, ordains eternal life.(TM)

Vs4: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy! (TM)

Vs 3 & 4: I write this, dear children, to guide you out of sin. But if anyone does sin, we have a Priest-Friend in the presence of the Father: Jesus Christ, righteous Jesus. When he served as a sacrifice for our sins, he solved the sin problem for good—not only ours, but the whole world's.  (TM)

Vs 31: But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (NIV) 

Jesus Christ Superstar, Are you who you say you are?
Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, Who are you what have you sacrificed?

The disciples were scared.  They locked themselves away with each other.  It wasn't until Jesus appeared amongst them that they were joyful again.

Its easy and normal and natural to doubt unless you see something first hand or have an experience of Jesus and His Lordship and believe God does love us enough to come and meet with us. 

The disciples were sitting - comforting each other and probably planning on going back to their old lives until Jesus came in to see them.  Jesus came into their presence!! These fellows were so worried about their lives, they locked themselves in.  Jesus broke through to them!!

No matter what we are locked into, Jesus can come into our lives. He can still breathe on us, no matter what we do or where we are.  We don't need to bend over backwards, pray a certain way or even for hours on end. We just have to be us.

Thank you Jesus, that you come to me when I least expect it. You breathe on me when I am at my weakest & you are real.  Please, Jesus come to me, breathe on me and fill me with the Holy Spirit once again.  AMEN

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Are Christians self satisfied?

Are Christians self satisfied?  A while ago I would have said no but now I think maybe we are.  And I wonder if that is how people see me?  Or maybe, that is the truth about me. 

Today it is Easter Sunday also known at Resurrection Sunday.  Its the day Christians around the world celebrate Jesus resurrection from death. 

This day means different things to different people.  I had a look on Yahoo Answers and some said it means chocolate, a day off work, extra work at their restaurant, annoyance at the loud church across the road and a couple said annoying self satisfied Christians.

You would think it was the opposite. You'd like to think it as the opposite.  The very people who are called to care for the poor, to love and treat everyone equally and to walk humbly with God are seen as self satisfied.

To he honest, I'm pretty sure some of the Christians in the western world might very well find themselves self satisfied, as we  have a tendency to think that we have it all together because we have Jesus. We puff our chests out and hold our heads high because we made 'the decision' to follow Jesus and if we can quote the Bible back to front, why shouldn't we pat ourselves on the back?  Have we  forgotten the only reason we can do any of it is because God loved us first?  He is the one who opened our eyes about Jesus.  He is the one who helps us each day to follow Jesus.  He is the one who brings to mind which verses of the Bible relate to each particular moment.  We commemorate the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and we have forgotten the truth that it is only through the blood of Christ we can do anything.

Recently a Christian friend on Facebook (whom I will call 'S') posted a link The Best Case For the Bible NOT Condemning Homosexuality by John Shore, which I thought was very interesting.  

“Compassion for others is the cornerstone of Christian ethics. The Bible is the bedrock of the Christian faith. God would never ask or expect Christians to choose between the two.”

God does not ask us to choose between compassion and faith in the Bible.

Christians are increasingly divided over the issue of the acceptance and inclusion of gay persons into the church. The debate itself is usually framed as essentially pittingthe Bible, on one hand, against compassion and social justice on the other. Our Christian hearts, runs the (usually impassioned) argument, compel us to grantfull moral and legal equality to gay and lesbian people; our Christian faith, comes the (usually impassioned) rebuttal, compels us to cleave, above all,
to the word of God.

I read through the article and then I shared it on my Facebook wall. Several hours later, when I went back to Facebook,  I found one positive comment by a non church goer and a comment by someone who said that I should read the comments he made on the Facebook wall of 'S'.  I went to his wall and under the article was a whole list of negative comments and a smattering of positive comments, mostly from non Christians, non church goers and the mother of 'S'   Of course, the negative comments were couched in 'christianese' and loving  statements.

To say I was shocked is an understatement. 

After reading the comments, I would understand why we are seen as annoying and self seeking.  

For hundreds of years churchgoers have been repeating the same things the church has taught without really thinking about it any further or even deciding whether or not they believe it for themselves.  A few men have taken a handful of verses and gave them an 'iffy' translation and meaning to support their own viewpoints. To be truthful, anyone can take a couple of verses out of the Bible to support any of their viewpoints. For instance, if you were a mass murderer, you could use the verses about Samson taking a jawbone of an ass and killing a thousand men. 

Jesus would have walked and known people who are same sex attracted and yet not one condemning word against them is recorded in any of the gospels. In fact, the only people Jesus condemned where the Pharisees who heaped rules and condemnation upon the common people. Jesus said these Pharisees were 'white washed tombs'...clean and pretty on the outside but full of dead and rotting flesh inside. 

At Easter,  shouldn't we be focussing on what Jesus did for each of us on the cross instead of ripping into someone else because they live differently to us?   

How can we forget that with every stripe of the cruel whip that removed flesh from Jesus' back, God's condemnation was removed (Romans 8:1) ; with every thorn that was pressed into the flesh on Jesus' head  the weight of God's rejection has been removed (Zechariah 10:6)and with each strike of cruel nails into Jesus' hands, our names were forever tattooed into the palms of God (Isaiah 49:16).   How can He ever hate the ones for whom God sent His Son? 

I really did appreciate this article that 'S' has shared on Facebook. Whether you agree or not, that is not my problem. However, in the words of Jesus himself when, in John 21 when Peter asked about John's future said “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” In other words, stop sticky beaking into others business because that is between me and him, our business is between you and me.

Quite a few years ago I read an article and I can't remember who wrote it but he said that Christians are seen as people who get together and have meetings and complain about everything.  I guess its true in the most part but sometimes I am ashamed to be called a Christian when this is the way people see us..

To finish up, I would like to add the last word by 'S's mum which she posted at the end of all of the comments. I couldn't have put it better myself. 

To those who have been hurt by those who call themselves Christians, I apologise. I implore you to seek God and find out who HE is and not settle for the tarnished  reflection people sometimes give of him. God isn't like those people. If you have been treated badly by people , please don't attribute that to God, God is not like that. He loves you with an everlasting love. There is nothing you could do to make him love you more and there is nothing you can do to make him love you less. 
He offers you love, love and more love.