This past Saturday I was rewarded with an honor that shows that my vast array of gifts and graces are finally being recognized Members of our Historical Society, who care for our magnificent Edgewood Heritage Park ( it is a living museum!), sought carefully and bestowed upon me the august honor, I sniff back a tear just thinking about it, of making me a Judge, yes a judge…..of the pinto bean competition.
While I am only a talented amateur at this time, with the proper training, focus and motivation I might go professional in the future. Sadly, the title would not fit onto my business cards but I will prevail as people recognize this honor and see me in the light of a true pinto bean judging professional. And when the pronounce, out of jealousy, that I am full of beans, I will proudly proclaim my gracious thanks for recognizing this wonderful filling within me. Hallelujah and amen.
Silly isn’t it? Be we often have trouble see ourselves in our real significance as a redeemed child of God. The disciples in our story have spent the day being taught by the one who spoke creation into existence and at the end of the day, all they can say is, “wow, we sure have a beautiful church.”
Look at the title; The Capital “C” Church is the worldwide saving enterprise of which our small “c” church-congregation is a part. and while it meets at the Church-House or sanctuary, of which we are blessed to have a great facility, the building is NOT the church. Those smiling people at the top of the post are the real sure enough, Jesus following, Spirit led CHURCH.
Admittedly the Jerusalem Temple was a big deal. Originally built in 957 BC, Destroyed around 604 BD, Rebuilt a century later and then remodeled just before the time of Christ’s earthly ministry, it was a huge facility that was more than a church. This was an icon of the Jew’s national, racial and religious identity.
To the Jew, the Temple was a sign that God’s victory over the world and was a center of the world and not just the center of Israel. The Temple is where God lives and provided a place to speak to and about God! This was where people were led to God and learned the stories that edified faith. However, it had sadly become and idol to some and an amusement park to others rather than a power center of God. The Roman invaders used it as a tool of manipulation. By controlling Temple worship and giving local leaders municipal “Bean Judge” type titles, a small force would control big crowds through brutality and civic organization.
Jesus would prophesy in verse 2 of the destruction in 70 AD. It would be the building that was defeated and not God! This took the newly forming Christians back to the desert tabernacle and dispersed them throughout the world. Jesus was taking the formal faith of the temple back to its roots. He speaks of false messiahs, soul stealing rumors, family upheaval, political and natural disasters and redeems them from sources of fear to the validation of this new faith in Jesus the Christ, our God incarnate. Jesus told them to expect these things, be ready for injustice and to speak in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Christ would call for patience as “the Gospel must first be preached to all nations.”
This past Friday, this old pattern would come to call in the attacks in France: At this writing there are 129 dead with 352 others wounded, 99 of them critically in premeditated and coordinated attacks — This isn’t merely terror, it is war. This is also not faith but a false and narrow chaos dressed up as religion.
In light of the horrific attacks in Paris, terrorist tactics haven’t really changed that much since the first Century. Neither has the Gospel. We can watch terror groups who wage this war on us as they prey on populations who are desperate , and will grab onto anyone that gives hope. Beyond the extortion and brutality, modern terror groups are fixing basic needs, Providing an identification and a purpose “organizing social welfare programs and even recreational activities for children, distributing food and fuel to the needy, and setting up clinics.”* This helps build community around the groups ideals. They build on earth for war while we build for the Savior and His Kingdom.
Last Friday, the command to love our enemy became far more difficult and Romans 12 says “17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[says the Lord.“ The voices who spout wrath can be attractive. But wait a minute and consider a truly Christian response to this terror.
First, DON’T FORGET GOD, we must respond by a smart faith. Rage isn’t enough. Warmongering at all cost in the Name of God on our own will is the height of spiritless and human centered Sin. On the other hand Peace Mongering at all cost in the name of Jesus is lazy and far less Christian. We cannot lose our souls by replacing our faith in the risen Jesus with faith in government and weapon systems. Seek Christ by holding fast to Christian Standards and principals and recognize in this text, that this isn’t God’s first experience with this behavior. We must pray, search the scriptures and engage our enemy like never before and do it AS THE CHURCH.
Second, find ways to cope NOW: take care of our kids and other sensitive people by limiting the terrible images. Stay informed but don’t add to the sensationalism of the Media. Stay connected with God in prayer, study, service and worship. Keep it real and not just routine to keep the fear in perspective. Be prepared to grow spiritually and be challenged in this “Desert Spirituality” in its great cloud of unknowing- “Wars and rumors of wars”. Prepare for the future with and for the living God. We must fight by faith and remember that we do not fight alone.
Again, this is not easy but by God’s grace it is possible. This isn’t about beans! With the proper training, focus and motivation we will be able to judge a secure truth through the eyes of Christ.
This post is a follow-up to our sermon from last Sunday and I pray it touches your heart and that you have a church to be “Welcome Home”. If you don’t, please click on the link below and check out our Family. We would love to welcome you whenever you find yourself in our corner of East Texas. Come and see us!