Today’s scripture readings seem to be about the contrast between spiritual things and worldly things. God’s standard and our standard. In 1 Corinthians, Paul proclaims that we have the mind of Christ (a bold statement). The psalmist proclaims, “The Lord is faithful in all his words.” And in Luke, Jesus teaches the people of Capernaum and casts out a demon. The people marvel at his authority and power and ask, “What is there about his word?”
Wouldn’t you love to have been able to actually hear Jesus speak? What was it about Jesus that people felt he spoke with authority? What convinced them of his power? What was there about his word? We have the gift of scripture, so we can know what Jesus said. And from scripture, we can know who He is. Would I be willing to trade that gift to be able to hear Christ speak? I wonder.
Words. What power they hold. Encouraging or discouraging. I’m teaching a group of junior high kids at church. After a recent lesson, I asked them to write down one word that described their life right now. All sorts of words came out. Baseball, soccer, happy, funny, friends, family. Then there was busy, sad, confused, searching. And finally came divorce and adultery. Junior high kids! It broke my heart. Adultery is the defining word in the life of a 13 year old? What is wrong with this world?
We have a young man living in our home right now who was abandoned by his mother and his father is now facing incarceration. Thus, he is living with us. One of the traditions in our house is that I kiss the boys on top of the head and tell them I love them before I leave for work. They’re taller than me now, so I have to pull their heads down for a kiss. When I kiss this young man on the head, I’ve wondered, does he believe me when I tell him I love him. Everyone who has told him they love him is gone. Why should he believe me? Why should he believe God loves him? The psalmist says the Lord is compassionate toward all his works.
The world’s standards seem so low at times and yet, whenever we run into a standard that causes us a problem, the solution seems to be to change or lower the standard. Then there are God’s standards - which seem impossible. Love your neighbor? Even that crabby guy down the street? Even my enemy? Really? And yet Paul says we have the mind of Christ. I know I am a sinner and I know I will fall short of God’s standard. So, should I repent and try to do better or simply change and lower God’s standard? Well, since God’s standards cannot be changed, the Good News is that we worship a loving, forgiving God who welcomes our repentance.
One of my problems is I always want to sit in judgment of the world (and its inhabitants). I need to realize that the judge position is already taken and my job is to simply live in obedience to God’s will. Simply. Right. So much easier said than done. I have to realize, it’s not about me, it’s about Christ and to keep my focus on Him.
My prayer today is for those of us who would rather sit in judgment of the world than in obedience to God’s will.
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