Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!
Readings for October 25, 2020; Reformation Day
Revelation 14:6-7; Psalm 46 1 Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-36 or Matthew 1: 12-19
[Jesus said,] “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon. The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.” Matthew 11:18-19
Have you or someone you know ever been so stuck on a negative perception of someone because you feel that he/she is a threat to you in some way and you nit-pick all the possible flaws in them to continue to justify that perception? We see it in political elections between candidates, we see it in workplaces, and especially during Covid, we see it on the news with some National leaders every day.
Although they are spewing lies, these people will degrade and diminish others for the sake of their own purpose, no matter the cost. And if we’re honest, it has occurred in our own lives too, yours and mine. When someone is threatening us and our security, we look to disprove them, think or speak falsely of them, and will do anything to remove them from our comfortable life that we have created.
Well, this is exactly what happened with the Pharisees, the Jewish church leaders, and Jesus was calling them out on it. Because Jesus was threatening their power and comfortable routines and sets of rules, they hated him. They could not bring themselves to actually hear what Jesus had to say for the sake of their own fear of losing their power and all they had created. They would do anything to protect their position. They would spew lies about Jesus, no matter how false. Just as in the passage above, not only did the Pharisees tell rumours that John the Baptizer was demon possessed -probably to defend themselves against John’s accusation of them being a ‘brood of vipers’, but they gossiped about Jesus being a glutton and a drunkard who hung around with the worst of the worst of society.
Yes, Jesus ate, drank and spent his time with people who were once tax collectors, prostitutes, demon possessed and down-right sinners. But the truth is we know he was never a glutton nor drunkard, and when confronted by the Pharisees on why he chose the company he did, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12-13) You see, in Jesus’ response he is guiding the Pharisees to understand, through the Scriptures that they already knew by heart, that God desired their worship of Him to be displayed in their lives through love, mercy, grace and a true relationship with him, not just in all the sacrifices or rules they created that built themselves up and burdened the people.
Jesus’ same response is extended to us as well. Jesus desires our faith in God to be one where our hearts and our healing rest in Him, our Saviour, and we seek and trust Him above all things. Our salvation through Jesus is seen most clearly through the actions of love and mercy to those around us, not simply the acts of coming and going from a church building, participating on church committee, or saying “Ya, I’m a Christian.” Oh, don’t get me wrong: those things will occur eventually as you seek the Lord as he is desiring, but they on their own mean nothing. First comes your seeking of Him and then comes walking in His ways. Perhaps this is what James was meaning when he said, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” James 2:18b
James had an intimate relationship with the Lord, as did all the disciples, and people like King David, Joseph, Abraham and so many others. So just as Jesus desired the Pharisees to put more importance of worshipping God by listening to and seeking him, the Son of God, than in their sacrifices and rules, so he desires us to seek him where he may be found- in Scripture, to trust him with our lives- the highs and the lows, to let his Holy Spirit fill us to love others each and every day as a response to his love for us, and join in the fellowship of believers in church. May His wisdom be proved right by your deeds.
Prayer: Dear Lord, let me seek you first. Let the sacrifice I lay before you be my very own life. You have come to seek sinners. You have come to seek me. Forgive me when my own sinful, selfish nature keeps me from fulfilling your will in my life and the lives of others. Let not my own agenda keep me from seeing and serving you. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!