Friday, 8 November 2013

One Commandment

34-35 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”  John 13:34-5 The Message

Anne Rice
To say that I am out of touch with the world would be an enormous understatement.  For example you might think that I would have at least heard the name of a woman who had sold over 90 million books – that would be Anne Rice.  Anne became a Christian when she was young.  She walked away from Christianity when she was 18 and eventually became an atheist.  In her late 50’s, while researching material for a book, she returned to her Christian roots.  In her early 70’s she said, “I quit Christianity but I am fully committed to being a disciple of Jesus Christ.”

What on earth is that all about?  How can you be a follower of Jesus and not be a Christian?  The word Christian is only used three times in Scripture.  It was always a derogatory term used to describe the followers of Christ.  Jesus preferred the word disciples to describe those who followed him.

I almost entitled this blog “convicted” but who would read a blog with that as a title?  Here is why I am feeling convicted.  Anne went on to say that those she identifies as Christians tend to be “hostile, quarrelsome and disputatious.”  Sadly you could probably add your own words to describe those of us who call ourselves Christians, such as self-righteous, proud, critical, etc.
Let’s bring this home.  Even though there are Ten Commandments we only need one, i.e. “as I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By that all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”  For clarity a disciple is one who is teachable, willing to forsake all things, bears fruit, and whose life is characterized by love.  Now let’s get even more personal.  Would your husband or wife say that you are quarrelsome, hostile and/or disputatious?  When your friends and family “see the love you have for each other” are they drawn to Christ?  Or would they, like Anne, say if that is a reflection of Christianity no wonder the divorce rate among Christians is the same as the secular world.

By the way the love you have for each other is not defined by the Sunday morning persona that each of us puts on as we enter church.  Our true love for each other is on display the hour before we leave for church; it’s what transpires during the week between the two of you.

How do you behave toward your spouse – as a disciple of Jesus?


Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Strategically Placed

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:13-15

Sometimes when I read Scripture I subconsciously deflect it from its full meaning.  The verses above are a perfect example.  I accept the fact that God expects me to be salt and I immediately think of situations in which, for the most part, I am salt.  I play the same mental gymnastics with light.  This approach is a little like the young boy who shoots his arrows at the side of a barn and then goes and draws a bulls eye around the tip of the arrow making it appear that each arrow struck the dead center of the bulls eye.

I am to be the salt and light in each and every circumstance in which I find myself, not selectively looking at my behavior through a narrow lens that gives me a distorted picture of how I’m measuring up to God’s Word.  God being God, He strategically places me in situations in which my light can shine or it can grow dim.  He places me where my saltiness can preserve a relationship or allow it to spoil.

Often it is easier for me to let my light shine when I am in public.  I rarely get visibly upset when things don’t go the way I think they should while at work.  At home however it is a different story.  Does God want me to represent Him while I’m in public?  Absolutely.  Does God want me to depict the same allegiance to Him when I am at home?  You better believe it.

The Voice Translation gives the following narrative ahead of verse 13.  It says, “Salt draws out the good flavors subtly hidden in food and preserves what would otherwise spoil, as do those who claim to be children of God.”  As I apply this verse to my marriage it suggests that I have the ability if not the responsibility to draw out those great qualities that my wife possesses.  Sadly the flip side is there as well.  By neglecting opportunities to build her up and encourage her she may not blossom as she could.

Just in case you ladies missed it, verses 13-15 are not gender specific.

Monday, 4 November 2013

No Reserve, No Retreat, No Regrets

William Borden was the heir apparent to the Borden dairy fortune.  Upon graduation from high school his father gave him three presents, one of which was a Bible.  After graduating from college William chose to become a missionary.  He died a premature death at age 25 while on his way to China. Supposedly the words “no reserve, no retreat, and no regrets” were written in the back of the Bible that was given to him.

No reserve. I do not know to what William was referring when he penned the first two of the six words that appeared in the back of his Bible.  What these words mean to me however is that as a follower of Christ I am to hold nothing back, to give my all, to make every minute of every day count for Him.  A lofty and unattainable goal – perhaps.   So I must ask myself have I given my all to loving my wife as much as myself? (Ephesians 5:33).  Am I the servant leader, protector, provider that God has called me to be?  (Genesis 1 and 2).  I been relentless in considering (understanding, honoring and delighting in) my wife? (1Peter 3:7)  Ladies you can develop your own check list using Ephesians 5:21-33; 1Peter 3:1-6; and 1Corinthians 7:1-10.

No retreat.  There is no going back, there is no giving up.  Though there will be difficulties to be sure I must not quit but persevere.  No retreat is the concept of what is behind the covenantal approach to marriage which is what Scripture requires.  Marriage is not a contract, a document that allows me to terminate our marriage based on perception of how my wife is fulfilling her part of the contract.  No retreat requires a commitment that is unshakable, I will keep moving forward toward the goal.  The goal is a marriage that glorifies God.

No regrets.  If I hold back from helping to make my marriage all that God wants it to be I will have regrets at the end of my life because I let down not only my wife but the King of Kings.  Just as we are stewards of our “stuff”, i.e. just caretakers for God since He owns everything, I believe I am called to be a steward of our marriage. My wife is a valuable gift that God has given me and God has every right to ask me how I have cared for such a precious gift.  If I were to retreat by getting a divorce or just living a parallel life with my wife I would most definitely have regrets at the end of my life.  If I am to have no regrets I must strive to do all in my power with the help of the Holy Spirit to present to Him a marriage that honors Him.