Have you ever laughed at one of God's requests?! I know I have! I mean, sometimes they can seem so ridiculous, and borderline crazy. Not like bad crazy, but like the kind of crazy that means we run the risk of looking foolish to everyone else... I love when Jesus asked to borrow Simon's boat as a pulpit (Luke 5:1-11). Simon and his friends had just come in from their shift of fishing and were cleaning everything up to put it away for the day. Then Jesus comes along, climbs into Simon's boat, and then asks him to...
Only eight more days until our national elections are over for 2016. It feels like there is more contention this election year than there ever has been in the past, and perhaps it's because we know that above all things God looks at the heart. When the prophet Samuel was looking to anoint a new king because Israel's king, Saul, had gone mad, Samuel was looking for a leader in much the same way many of us have a tendency to do. But God taught us all something that day:
"But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart'" (1 Samuel 16:7).
Deep down inside, many of us know this to be true, which is why this election feels harder than most others have. The character issues of the top candidates have been glaring this election season. We haven't been able to read or watch the news for months (or years if we're really honest...) without some part of either candidate's character being on full display.
As I have wrestled with this tension for the past month or so, yesterday I was reminded that simultaneously Jesus tells us,
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye" (Matthew 7:1-5).
I don't know about you, but that just makes things murkier than they were before! Thank You, God. :) I was recently asked, "what do you do when you've studied the Bible and you're still unsure of what God is saying to us here, today, and how we're supposed to apply it?" There are a myriad of things one can do, until at the end of the day, prayer and humility are our best resources.
I'm thankful for a couple of things this election season: 1) God alone is judge, and 2) I have more important things in my own life to focus on getting right with God than I do judging others. So here's to humbly living in community for the next eight days until this election is over and we can all collectively return to the important realities of our everyday lives. I'm thankful governments still rest on Jesus' shoulders, and they always will.
What if what the Bible says really is true? What if what's recorded in the pages of that book are actually what God wants us to know about humanity, heaven, salvation, redemption, reconciliation, peace, love, sacrifice, etc.?
What if it's ALL true? In Isaiah 53, God tells Israel that even though they think they're doing all their religious rituals correctly that in fact they aren't. Because even though they were fasting from food one day, the next day they were still exploiting their neighbors, getting into brawls with one another, throwing people under the bus (figuratively) and living only as they pleased. No, what God wanted the chosen tribe to do was to establish heaven on earth by ending injustice, ending oppression, bringing freedom to all, making sure everyone was full, clothed and had a roof over their head. And actually, only then would their prayers be heard...
What if what Jesus said in Matthew 25 is true? That those who meet the needs of the least of those in society are actually serving Him as well, and those who aren't meeting their needs, well they aren't and they might as well not even claim to know Jesus nor claim to be His follower.
If this is true, then the widow who helped my biological dad when he was drunk, homeless and dying was serving Jesus. And those who stuck by my cousin while he was in prison were serving Jesus. And those who have fed and clothed my friends when they were in need were serving Jesus. And those who didn't, well, they weren't.
The thing is, each one is God's creation (and someone's son, daughter, sister, friend, uncle...) no matter where in the world they were born nor into what circumstances they were born into. And God loves each one. But do we? And before we say we do, we have to know that our actions speak louder than our words, every time...
I love how simple Jesus makes God's commandments in Matthew: 'love God and love others as you love yourselves. Everything hangs on those two things.' What if it's that simple and true?