Monday, June 9, 2008

Back in the day or "When we were fools"


Who are the people directly in your life right now, this moment, this second, just now, who really really really get on your nerves? I am not talking about the way they comb their hair, wear their pants hiked up real high just below their arm pits or even all that back hair fluffing out from the back of their shirt collar. No, I am speaking of those you work with, those friends you have, those you call on occasionally, those you work with who always make stupid and avoidable mistakes....moment of silence for you to continue counting them all up......need more time? Ok.....done yet? No? Sorry, you get the point.

Don't you get so mad at these people who continually spend their lives jumping from one bad situation to another, doing one stupid thing after another, making one horrible choice after another? It's bad enough that you have to be witness to all of this freak show but then the good part comes, they ask you for advice and then do the exact opposite of what you told them to do! Now you and I both know that our advice is top notch, well researched, and grounded in knowledge, wisdom, and love yet they continue to fail to see the value? Stupid people right?

Not so fast....

Titus 3:3-8

3For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

Paul writes these words as an older, experienced pastor to a younger pastor. What prompted this letter? Well of course the Holy Spirit but did Paul receive a report from others how the church was doing? Did Paul receive a letter from Titus himself sharing some of the burdens...asking for advice? You can just imagine that letter can't you?

"Dear Paul, the ministry would be wonderful if it wasn't for all these stupid people always messing it up!"

I think we can be too harsh on people who are not Christians and are outside the church because they do...well unchurchy things right? Yet when you think about it they are only doing what unchurched, non-Christians do. According to scripture without Christ they are dead to Him, dead to His word, dead dead dead and no matter how much preaching you do you nor I can call them out of this death. Only God can.

Does that mean that we have to stop calling these clowns stupid? Yes, and you have to stop calling them clowns as well. You see the scripture above states that each of us were once:

1. Fools 2. Disobedient 3. Deceived 4. Slaves 5. Hated each other

Yet something happened didn't it? Because the scripture above states "were once" indicating that something changed but what? What could wake a dead person from the grave? What could awake the things of God in the heart of a dead man so that it would change the foolish to the wise, the disobedient to the obedient, the deceived to the knowing, slaves to free men, and turn hate to love?

Survey says! Jesus and Jesus alone

4But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy,

Jesus appears, intervenes, steps onto the scene like a superhero from a slick magazine (sorry about that I was on a roll). Jesus come to each of us through His word and through His spirit, He speaks directly to each of us, He calls us to Himself for Himself from the world of death in which we live. It is only because Jesus is good, loving, and kind that He does this. Note how in verse 5 the scripture makes it very clear that Jesus does this "not because of works done by us" but because of "his own mercy." Isn't that refreshing? Isn't that what the good news is all about?

Think about this for a moment. Every religion on the planet is a system, a scheme, a process that tells you what you must do to reach God or to become a god. Christianity tells us that God, Jesus, came down to us, He died for us, He died in our place, took on the punishment for our sins, paid the price so that you and I could be free through His mighty work. It's never about what you and I could do....always about what Jesus has done and that truly is great news!

If you are reading this and have accepted Jesus as your savior then you are saved because of what He did not because of what you are doing, what you are or are not eating, are or are not following. You are saved only because of His mercy, loving kindness, and goodness.

If you are saved, if you have the love of God in your heart then you need to stop calling people stupid and clowns because you and I at one point were foolish at one point making stupid decisions, disobedient at one point going our own way in total rebellion against God, deceived in thinking we could be like God and enslaved to humanly passions that lead only to death.

Now is the time to reach out to those around you who get on your nerves, who make stupid decisions, who never take your advice and instead of pimp smacking them how about throwing your arms around them?

How about taking the same mercy, love, and kindness you received at the cross and share it with those around you knowing that it is God who saves and God alone and it is up to us to share His good news through preaching, teaching, and good works.

Because back in da day....each of us were stone cold fools.

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