One Body or Two?

Jw has had exposure to the issue of Abortion and unplanned pregnancies from several ministries he’s been involved in.

JW’s Thinking Out Loud

JW grew up on a farm in a rural area with a village of 700-900 people in the center of our township. We belonged to a Second Congregational (formerly Puritan) church until a merger when we became a United Church of Christ church. The other church in town was Roman Catholic. Our church was already liberal and now is more so.

But even without the liberal orientation of our church the prevalent protestant view was that if a pregnant women was in danger from her pregnancy it was better to abort the fetus and save the mother’s life. The Catholic church has opposed abortion all along.

Two things changed this view for conservative church’s after I became an adult and had graduated from college as outlined in the link below.

United States Pro Life Movement

When I volunteered at a crisis pregnancy center I explained the historical understanding of the issue and my current understanding. And I emphasized my empathy for either side. My role as a facilitator was simply to guide the men I worked with through curriculum that taught them how  a father cares for the child that’s still in the “oven”.

One very important thing I learned through experience was how many ways an unplanned pregnancy could occur. Of course biologically there is only one way. But I was always troubled about people failing to look ahead at possible consequences an unplanned pregnancy – but the fact was they were already ill-equipped for the current relationship they were in.

Decisions that come out of these situations are often no more practical or thoughtful then the decisions that they already made (or fell into?). It’s at this point where I raise the question about abortion. A decision that rarely receives the reasoned thinking that is necessary for a better outcome.

The Ground Rules

The debate about abortion revolves around two issues. First is whether the fetus is part of the mother’s body and second is whether liberals or conservatives are more compassionate.

I share a particular view but I’m not going to vilify the other side. Links I’ve included (which are not mine) will present both sides of the discussion (not a debate). Also I believe both sides have sincere convictions.

But on such an important issue it requires us to have an informed opinion of our own. What friends or family say is insufficient for creating any kind of public discourse.

Truth or Fiction

When the woman says it’s my body is she correct? Here are two different articles with obviously contradicting opinions. Can you see any fallacies in either point of view?

Beginning at conception, every pregnancy involves two or more

When the embryo implants in the lining of the uterus, it emits chemical substances which weaken the woman’s immune system within the uterus so that this tiny “foreign” body is not rejected by the woman’s body. Were this tiny embryo simply “part of the woman’s body” there would be no need to locally disable the woman’s

The fetus is an ‘organ’ of woman’s body

Noam Chomsky, the most cited academic in the world, said that an unborn baby is “an organ” and a part of the mother’s “own body” during a recent guest lecture at an Irish college. “There is a current debate regarding a woman’s right to control .her own body.

opposing views

You can see I’ve put the issue of compassion outside of Democratic or Republican politics.

Protesters at Entrance to Abortion Clinic

I also know the American public is majority pro-life and open to abortion at the same time. Compassionate people can see something in both sides. But I don’t think that foresight is a part of the process. Rather it’s the stress of the moment when unplanned or risky pregnancies come along. Statistically the family or boyfriend makes the decision to abort more often than the woman.

The issue of the child itself and trust in the future of the situation should be considered most. What would make the decisions easier if there was non-judgemental support that was real. Often the deciding circumstance is that there is not support. For the young women I would point out that a boyfriend with income would be a good idea to start with. In fact, recognition of sexual activity throughow contemplation consequences of an unplanned pregnancy of pregnancy would help forestall a crisis for everyone.

Poor reasons for Abortion

Compassion starts with listening. Listening should start with the young child at home and be available when wrong decisions leading to unplanned pregnancies occur. To my mind that includes knowing not to put an unborn child into risky circumstances. Between lack of planning and rape and incense many babies are not wanted. For all the debate – shouldn’t the discussion about what to avoid precede the unplanned pregnancy? Isn’t listening a part of a two-way conversation?

Sexuality is not just a recreational activity. It has potentially life-changing implications. In truth, sex before marriage (and income) have life-changing implications. It’s at this point I must confess my Biblical Christian orientation.

I cannot delay any longer side-stepping what I believe is the clearest picture of compassion for these issues. The Christian faith holds the key to make “unplanned pregnancies” “planned” and relationships lasting, supportive, and financially stable. Compassion says we will not engage in any activity that is a direct threat to the relationship and the nurture and wellbeing of any offspring.

When I see people deciding for abortion because of family convenience I cringe. I cringe even more when a woman refuses adoption saying “I couldn’t do that to my child” and aborts the baby. Some of the men I was facilitating who weren’t working told me they purposely got their girlfriend pregnant – continuing their irresponsible behavior.

I have met young women who had gotten pregnant through rape or incense suffer trauma over a family decision to abort even while the young lady wanted the baby. Even some men who were powerless to effect their girlfriend’s abortion had similar trauma to the women forced to abort.

Valid Reasons for Abortion

There are several acceptable reasons for abortions per Reasons Women Choose Abortion.

Most of the reasons above share a view that I believe most Americans agree with. Conservative legislation to deny abortion in these cases will face stiff or impossible opposition.

These views are also held historically. One that’s not on the list is the out-of-wedlock pregnancy and embarrassment to the family. Especially for political figures this situation is an encumbrance to their electability. But outside of the legislation that they’ve passed against government assistance to the poor, the politician’s station gives them access to even partial birth abortions by going out of the country.

But…

I don’t see anything on WEBMD’s list justifing Abortion since God can handle any of these situations. Of course a confident Christian trusts God to help. And the home church needs to support and not judge.

This where the church needs to come in. There is so much unstated but open to our imagination as to the backgrounds of the situations listed by WEBMD. The church has the answer for them all. And that answer is that each life is precious for however long God decides to leave them in our midst. Very seldom is anything other than joy experienced by the couples who come forward to offer a home to their child or someone else’s child whose parents were not ready to love the child.

Did You Pray?

All of us have had varying experiences in this area. All of us are going to have different views on what compassion looks like.

But JW is always going to ask – DID YOU PRAY?

© 2018 Jim JW Worcester

Hosea and Gomer

Hosea’s name means “Savior”.  Hosea and Gomer’s story shows the northern kingdom of Israel and us today about God’s constant yearning for us and His attempts to reach us even with our fallen nature and our following after our gods of our own making.  We should also remember that the priceless gift of Jesus blood  God paid and not us to bring us back out of our own version of harlotry.

We persistent in prayer for our own needs and the needs of our family.  But are we able to persist in prayer for those hard cases we meet in our family that frustrate us?  And does God want us to persist? Do we persistently also ask ourselves and God if we’re on the right track when we pray? Have we decided we’re the only ones, or no one is, or I just can’t see that someone else might be able to help?

Let’s review a little of the struggle that Hosea coped with as God directed him to marry, and then persist in maintaining his marriage to Gomer, who was not helping.

  • Hosea “bought” Gomer who herself was the child of a harlot.
  • Hosea was the father of their 1st child.
  • Other men were the father of Gomer’s 2nd and 3rd children
  • Gomer left home and entered the trade of a harlot
  • Hosea “bought” her a 2nd time

Having received such a great gift and being empowered by the Holy Spirit, ought we also then to not give up on our family members who are still in sin?  And more importantly, per my intention, are we willing to receive that we’re not necessarily helping if we guard our wayward family members from the consequences of their own actions?  When we do this are we really thinking of them or ourselves?

I heard a person on Christian radio say they pray sometimes for people to hit rock bottom – not praying they escape the consequences of their sin. For example – do we bail them out of jail when we know they’re guilty and not repentant?  Do we help them to hide illegal activity? Do we give them money or housing when they’ve had more than enough to have taken care of themselves? If we protect them from making the hard choices in life – have we helped or hindered them?

The following WEB site clearly illustrates what I’m saying.  You will note that there’s a lot about personal responsibility and not concern for someone else.  I will cover the “someone else” in the paragraph after the link for the WEB site.

One way we enable the sin of others is by rescuing them from their rightful consequences. God uses consequences to teach us lessons we would not otherwise learn. When a parent bails a rebellious son out of jail, that parent is enabling the rebellion to continue. When a Christian allows his friends to talk him into going to a place he knows will lead to sinful behavior, he is participating in the sin of others. We give others freedom to make their own choices, but we must also allow them to reap the consequences of those choices (Galatians 6:7). We often enable the sin of others because of a false sense of compassion or wanting to feel needed. But in shielding someone from the natural consequences of sin, we rob that person of the wisdom God wanted to impart to him or her. It’s never easy to see a loved one experience difficulty, but sometimes the difficulty is just what God wants to use to teach an important life lesson.

https://www.gotquestions.org/enabling-sin.html

My concern is for the people we love.  If we really love them and wish the best for them from God’s perspective then we’ll avoid enabling them.  It gets really hard when grandchildren are involved. But how does enabling help? What example are their parents setting?  Unless the grandparents become parents again the only chance for things to get better is if the parents suffer the consequences that wake them up.

The worst scenario I’ve observed is the current opioid/heroin epidemic in our country.  Worse yet is that it’s now labeled as a disease. Talk about avoiding consequences. NA or Narcotics Anonymous uses the same method as AA.  And Al Anon teaches that the person is accountable for getting themselves off of the dependency irrespective of how they started. But the most basic problem is denial about the problem – either it’s only a few or it’s “those” people across town.

To me the Holy Spirit is the key to prayer, persistence, peace, and direction.  And it comes through a willingness to communicate and listen in prayer.  And maybe even accepting someone else’s help.  So as we remember Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection, let’s continue to remind ourselves God persists in reaching someone and be encouraged not to give up on someone we love, in spite of themselves. JW

Please – this is all just “food for thought”.  We all have our opinions. I’m just airing out a look at these issues from a different angle.

https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Conviction

Guilt: Free Download

https://www.openbible.info/topics/consequences

Look at the Holiday

From a friend, fellow church member, and deacon:

I have come to enjoy writing these Focus articles because I always incorporate a weird or obscure holiday theme into them and I enjoy looking up some of the things that are set aside to celebrate. As I scrolled a list of wacky holidays in April I noticed there were a lot of food related ones like caramel popcorn day, licorice day, and peach cobbler day (that is on April 13th). There are fun ones like World Party Day, Golfer’s Day, and Hug an Australian Day on April 26th. Then there are some more serious ones that remind us of tragedies in world history like Titanic Remembrance Day and in some countries Holocaust Day. But this year the best holiday ever celebrated anywhere is on April 1st and no I am not talking about April Fool’s Day. I am talking about Easter Sunday.

Unfortunately, in our modern American society Easter has become primarily about baskets, candy, bunnies, and eggs (really need to look into how eggs became associated with bunnies for Easter). Don’t get me wrong I don’t see anything wrong with making Easter fun for our kids and doing some of that stuff but all too often in most American homes the true purpose and original inspiration and significance for the holiday is at least overlooked if not forgotten entirely. Easter or Resurrection Sunday, as Steve (our Preacher) likes to point out as a more appropriate title, we all know is the day Christ rose from the dead. Put yourself in the shoes of a Christian in that day. Your teacher, your mentor, your healer, your comforter, the man who had done so much for so many suffered the cruelest of deaths ever known right before your eyes. I wonder if they truly grasped in that moment of His death what they were witnessing. We look back on it now as tragedy for sure but as the necessary step for our salvation. The people there that day lost a great friend and leader and I don’t think through the grief of the situation they remembered what he was accomplishing in that moment and its necessity for themselves.

But three days later He casually walks back into town as if nothing had happened. Everyone that heard or saw him had to have a jolt of adrenaline at the news. Their friend was alive! Talk about at reason to celebrate! But more importantly, and for some they had to be reminded of this, Jesus had defeated. death and ·gave us a chance at freedom from the wages of sins . . Without this day, without His accomplishment that day, we all would have no hope beyond this life. On this day all those many centuries ago, Christ transformed what most “Christians” at the time considered to be the greatest tragedy of all time, his crucifixion. A day that without the events of the following Sunday would have gone down in history as another somber day of remembrance was changed into what could be called World Party Day. We should throw a party and celebrate our freedom from the consequences of our sinful humanity. If that is not something to throw a party for I don’t know what is.

 

So as we head into this Easter season, amidst all the baskets filled with candy and eggs delivered by the big bunny, let us make sure we take at least a moment to remember, discuss with our families, and appreciate what was accomplished three days prior so that he we can have the appropriate perspective and proper amount of respect, awe, and joy for what this holiday truly represents, our freedom and everlasting life!

by Chad Wynkoop

Has Jesus risen in your life?

Missionary Jim Elliot (1927-1956) along with four other missionaries was savagely murdered by Ecuadorian Indians in the amazon basin after they had contact with them days earlier.  Their goal was to teach the initially friendly people about the Gospel. Instead they were all savagely murdered by the people they reached out to. The missionary wives and families later made contact again and were able to complete the mission.  Before embarking on their mission journey Jim Elliot said “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

Ecuadoran tribe transformed after killing of 5 missionaries

Note the strong language John the apostle uses when He talks of our allegiance to God and the Gospel.  (John 12:25 NKJV) “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”  A more positive way to state our allegiance to God is given by Luke: (Luke 9:24–25 ESV) For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

Once we get around the issue of the harsh and uncompromising language describing our loyalty to God we have to ask what we are to do.  It’s easier to describe what not to do. And that is basically dependence on anything of this world. I realize we live here and we are dependent on learning how to live “successfully”.

But the reality is that “success” is not about us.  It’s about God and others. When our concern for ourselves and people we know and love consumes us, we have basically taken ourselves out of the ministry of reaching others for Christ.  Ministry to others includes discipleship of newer Christians. Along with the lost and new believers we should seek to learn and mentor through personal Bible Study, Small Groups, and Sunday School.

But how do we as individuals find our place in the mission of spreading the Gospel (Good News)?  Bible Study and prayer if done with introspection in mind can be the most intimate way for the Holy Spirit to guide us.  Others can also see in us something that we don’t. At our missionary effort of packing 16,000 meals for disaster relief in Haiti it was easy to see where people fit themselves in to a station along our “assembly lines”.  We should periodically take a personal inventory and ask ourselves if we are fitted to our current ministries or if God has another role for us.

When working in the church environment we need to pray expecting that we all have the same goal.  And that is to give credit to our MVP Jesus Christ, our coach the Holy Spirit, and the team owner God.  We need to always pray to get ourselves out of the way and to always be looking not only for areas of need that are not being served and to pray for encouragement for the people who are already serving.

If we’ve found our ministry give praise to God!  If not give God praise for where we’re currently at.  When we spend time with God in prayer and Bible study we will learn of His concerns and will be sensitive to where needs are that we can fill.  

If we haven’t already been involved in ministry the spiritual disciplines of Prayer, Bible Study, learning environments, and the ability to be introspective should guide us into ministry.  But it only becomes wishful thinking if we’ve not made room in our schedule and budget to do ministry.  And ministry should not be a task but a true heartfelt mission when we do ministry.  Ministry starts with a focus on God and should bring glory to God and not ourselves. 

As I look at this post I think I’ve barely scratched the surface of the issue.  Certainly the majority of people will do ministry that is commended by God for serving in the church.  But the risk factor is relatively low compared to foreign missions, especially in ares not reached by the Gospel.  Short Term Mission trips are a good way to be involved with missions to other cultures.  I’ve especially enjoyed mission trips that involved other churches as well.  Some people have served in these missions for six months and more.

The greatest risk I’ve taken is to reach out to men who are kept at a distance by most congregations.  What I find are people without direction in life sent on their way through life with no direction or means.  One man I had great success with but fell out of favor with his family and lost contact.  Another man I tried to work with had literally no man of boys his age for all of his 50+ years of life.  Others have been severely ill.  Others have been unstable and unable to find stability.

Currently I’m involved in a Christian based 12-step recovery program started by John Baker and Rick Warren from Saddleback Church.  The transparency and introspection are by far the best I’ve ever encountered.  The purpose is to take control of our Hurts, Habits, and Hang-Ups.  The ministry is noted for recovery for addictions.  What we all find is a number of problems that feed into one another.  So there’s a lot of places to look for the dysfunction we find ourselves in.  All the men I’ve tried to minister to would have gained so much more going to this ministry.

It takes time, emotional energy, raised eyebrows, questions why, etc. to be involved in the ministries I’ve been involved in.  But its where God pointed me at an early age I believe and something that does require some “risk”.

This is written primarily to me for direction, JW                                                                                                                                                                              

Joyous Yet Convicting Scripture

In Psalm 19 are concepts that are in the New Testament.  Here are four sections rich in theology and the nature of men.  It shows that knowledge alone  cannot protect men from the pull of their sin nature. Only through God can men have the strength and direction to break free of their sin nature.

Natural Revelation

It seems to Christians that everyone would understand Natural Revelation.  But that’s not what happens.  I write from personal experience.  When you’re fed a steady diet of Evolution, even from parents, it’s hard to appreciate that “nature” could point to God.  And growing up in a liberal church is no help either.

I did not know it then, but there have been skeptics of Evolution all along.  Answers in Genesis clearly shows how the Creation narrative is essential to understanding the Gospel.  They also have very many observable physical evidences that substantiate the Creation story.  And the best proof of this story is that it never changes but only adds more evidence every year.

(Psalm 19:1-6 WEB) To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.

1The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth the work of his hands. 2Day to day uttereth speech, and night to night showeth knowledge. 3[There is] no speech nor language, [where] their voice is not heard. 4Their line hath gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, 5Which [is] as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, [and] rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. 6His going forth [is] from the end of the heaven, and his circuit to the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from his heat.

The order of the universe, our planet, and plants and animals shows the hand of a single Creator.  Each day shows the interconnection of life that requires a very fine balance that is statistically impossible to happen by chance.  To say that Creation speaks reveals that men can hear and see the majesty and power of the Creation and the Creator.  But “can” and “do” are often not synonymous.

God’s Word

I also think Natural Revelation is too general.  There’s much more to the Gospel then is discerned from nature only.  Particularly Jesus adds a lot of necessary nuances to moral precepts then what exists in the Old Testament.  Also other passages in scripture give us a more detailed view of how God through Jesus created our world and the universe.  Two examples are: (Romans 1:18-23) and (Colossians 1:15-18).

One very important precept in scripture is to cherish the scripture as the inerrant word of God.  People will never know God intimately without some (preferably more) Biblical knowledge.  And they also will not know Him intimately if they don’t believe the Bible is God’s Word.  For those who know the Bible it truly becomes a treasure and is literally worth more than any material wealth a person may have.

(Psalm 19:7-10 WEB) 7The law of the LORD [is] perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD [is] sure, making wise the simple. 8The statutes of the LORD [are] right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD [is] pure, enlightening the eyes. 9The fear of the LORD [is] clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD [are] true [and] righteous altogether. 10More to be desired [are they] than gold, yes, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honey-comb.

Psalm 119 is the richest passage in scripture for focusing on the infinite value of scripture.  But not knowing our own heart is the biggest stumbling block to right living, right thinking, and sanctification.  Two scriptures showing introspection and the failings of men are in (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and (Hebrews 4:12).

If we lack the skill or will for introspection we will not advance above the status of an adolescent Christian.  God comes to us in the person of the Holy Spirit to strengthen us.  We all have some level of hurts, habits, hang-ups, and addictions* that compromise our witness, our strength, and our direction in life.  Scripture (John 16:13-15) shows the Holy Spirit operates in tandem with God and Jesus.

*Phrase taken from Celebrate Recovery
(John Baker, Rick Warren, Saddleback Church)

(Psalm 19:11-13 WEB) 11Moreover, by them is thy servant warned: [and] in keeping of them [there is] great reward. 12Who can understand [his] errors? cleanse thou me from secret [faults]. 13Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous [sins]; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.

People sometimes kid about the “Devil made me do it”.  But we know the real answer.  Most of the time when we sin we’re unaware of the offense or the temptation came out of left field and blindsided us.  In the heat of the moment another person within us reveals themself.  We can learn our trigger points and avoid them in the future by praying and rehearsing how to avoid our unwholesome reactions.

But in verse thirteen there is an inconvenient word “presumptuous”.  This is even harder to correct even though it seems like we walk into these situations with our eyes wide open.  The spiritual cancer is even deeper than our “secret faults” and requires help from God.  The Holy Spirit empowers us to identify and deal with the triggers and weaknesses that disable us from avoiding these sins. 

Pleasing God

Notice this last verse is not offering any silver bullets for our sin problems or formulas for Praising God or honoring His Holy Word the Bible.  That would be easy – we could just develop a routine, check off the action items, and go about our day.  But it’s clear for God’s “pleasure” and our spiritual growth that we surrender our whole life to His control.

(Psalm 19:14 WEB) Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable* in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

*other Bible versions use “pleasing”

There’s nothing left out in this pledge to God for a sincere devotion to God and His Kingdom.  We commit everything internal and external to our being to God.  We recognize the need for His Spirit to strengthen and guide us.

I have written before that God hates sin just as much as He did in the Old Testament.  But His sacrifice of His own Son shows His love is greater than His hate of sin.  God longs for our presence and we should long for His presence.  Even though we stray and don’t look to Him always, His arms are always open wide the second we return to Him (Who has been right beside us all the way).  

Mankind (we are a fellow member) has messed up since Adam and Eve – but He still cherishes our presence.  Why do we find it so hard to do the same?

His Blood is on Me

There are two ways to look at this title.  Does it point to our guilt or our salvation?  Before His crucifixion some people already made their decision.  Many people are making the same decision today.  But what decisions do we make ourselves?  What are our family members and friends deciding about the reality and nature of Jesus.

The final decision to execute Jesus could have only been made by the Roman Governor.  His decision was recorded in the book of Matthew.

(Matthew 27:22-25 WEB) 22Pilate saith to them, What shall I do then with Jesus, who is called Christ? [They] all say to him, Let him be crucified. 23And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. 24When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but [that] rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed [his] hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye [to it]. 25Then answered all the people, and said, His blood [be] on us, and on our children.

Pilate, like many today, deny their own sin, or at least the severity of their own sin.  If we say Jesus was just but not worth following then we fall into the same self-deception as Pilate.  Jesus never says that His way is the easy way.   Following Jesus requires real conviction.  Recognition of His place in the “universe” and “history” is the only basis for receiving the blessings of salvation and a spirit filled life.  There are a lot of scriptures that show this to us.  We’d need a Bible Study to cover them all.  I’ll sum up Jesus’ role by simply stating there is no one past, present, or future greater than Jesus.

Then there are people who actively deny Jesus.  People who will end friendships, family ties, and even marriage vows over one issue – that concerns the need for salvation and Jesus’ role as the only person through which salvation comes.  The most common refusal though is to brand us as fanatics and Jesus as a myth.  To be ignored and ridiculed for our beliefs is a form of persecution.  At the end of the beatitudes (beautiful attitudes) comes the following warning.

(Matthew 5:10-12 WEB) 10Blessed [are] they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Each one of us has opportunities to speak up for Jesus.  But often we don’t take the time or chance the rejection for doing so.  And speaking up does not involve 3 minute Gospel dissertations with a admonishment to believe immediately after.  But spending time with people and having answers from our own life and the Bible that are directly related to your conversations is the sure way to really not only win a soul but win a disciple who seeks to grow in the faith.  And not having an answer is fine.  Resorting to prayer and being willing to wait for answers is another way to attest to our sincerity as we witness.

I’ve written a lot about being guilty before God.  In this case the punishment is ON us.  But the blood of Jesus is the instrument redeeming Grace.  When we accept His gift as the perfect sacrifice for our sins, then God identifies with us as His children.  And the Holy Spirit is like a runner carrying the Olympic torch.  We are sealed for eternal life with God/Jesus/Spirit when we believe.  That belief and the strength and direction of the Holy Spirit will give us what we need for the life God intends for us.

(Matthew 26:26-28 WEB) 26And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed [it], and broke [it], and gave [it] to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave [it] to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sin.

The Jewish leaders in Matthew 27 opted for the old traditions even though the Old Testament describes Jesus just as He was.  As followers of Jesus Christ we have opted for the new life which God mapped out before Adam and Eve.  But as followers and beneficiaries of this New Covenant we also realize it came at a priceless cost.  The song which comes from YouTube says it in the mentions we all feel when we contemplate the great sacrifice that was made.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Y4RPnrZ72k

 

Judging Versus Compassion

This section of scripture emphasizes “Compassion” as a part of “Judging”. It has many inter-related scriptures that form a comprehensive unit that in itself provides full explanation to every verse within this passage. What is not to clear to many is that “judge not” is related to our (includes me) own penchant to take God’s role in condemning people to hell. Read this passage several times to understand the full meaning of every phrase.

The full purpose of this passage is to set people free from guilt. We can free those who have wronged us, besides us for our own sins and follies. And even if those who wronged us or people who we’ve wronged, reject us, which is on them; you have offered them God’s grace and peace. But we must forgive ourselves and accept the grace that God has already given us. And we can often be our worst critic. We need to fix our self-image. We’re a child of the King – who has it all and gave it all for each one of us. This quote “Live like you’re loved” is from a Christian song done by Mark Schultz. And this passage is how to get there. We’ve spent a life-time living in the world with all of its hurt. Now we have to spend time with God and supporting saints to get to Jesus’ level.

If you think this last statement of mine is too bold, I refer you to Matthew 5:44-48 below where the word “perfect” is used. The phrase “judge not” is also further explained in Matthew 7:1-5 below.

(Luke 6:27-30 WEB) 27But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to them who hate you, 28Bless them that curse you, and pray for them who despitefully use you. 29And to him that smiteth thee on the [one] cheek, offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke, forbid not [to take thy] coat also. 30Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods, ask [them] not again.

This is a huge paradigm shift from that of the Pharisaical theologians. It’s also a huge paradigm shift for a country that believes in equal justice – which appears isn’t happening in this example.

But the following verses give an explanation as to what is God’s goal. And that saves the very souls that we would condemn. This is not our prerogative since we are sinners also. We don’t ask that people are Baptized for our sake, but for God’s sake.

Do not judge those in need. Instead look for the greater need they have. Not handouts, but peace and control of their lives. The need for forgiveness and a Savior. Connections with people who care. People who care enough to want to add value to their lives. And a willingness to accept a new direction in life that God offers.

(Luke 6:31-34 WEB) 31And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. 32For if ye love them who love you, what thanks have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33And if ye do good to them who do good to you, what thanks have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34And if ye lend [to them] from whom ye hope to receive, what thanks have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much in return.

Jesus who was totally sinless, gave His all for us while we were yet unworthy sinners. Where is the justice in this? The world’s view (and ours also) is tit-for-tat justice. But God’s goal is the salvation of every soul. God will sustain us through the inequalities of life so that even while we’re imperfect, we can witness to lost souls and mentor younger Christians to have conquering Grace.

Love if it’s genuine can be hard. Usually we reflect on what we receive when we think of love. When we help a friend we receive appreciation and a gold star for being a good guy. We can expect reciprocal benefits.

But giving to the lost (spiritually, emotionally, financially, etc.) is of no immediate benefit to us – only sacrifice. How many ungrateful people, even in our own church, do I experience after all my sacrifices? Love can’t be measured by the joy I receive, but by the joy I impart to others.

(Luke 6:35-38 WEB) 35But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind to the unthankful and [to] the evil. 36Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38Give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye give [to others], it shall be measured to you again.

Judging and stinginess prevent us from the task at hand. To be Jesus to the lost and suffering of the world. And not being able to appreciate while we judge from worldly standards we miss the fact that the wealthy and comfortable are the most lost of all. See the following reference to Revelations 3:14-19.

Note especially that the Highest (God) is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Are we not asked to do the same? We must be willing to go to anyone initially. Common sense must come into play. But before we think the impossible can never happen we need to remember the “Cross and the Switchblade” written by David Wilkerson, where the most incorrigible gang member became and nationally known evangelist.

Summary

As a whole selfless giving, loving strangers, and forgiveness, are part of a single process that Christians must commit to as we pledge to follow Jesus as our model.

The following verses reinforce what is written in Luke 6:27-38. All of scripture serves as the best commentary on scripture. God’s nature and mankind’s nature have not changed since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. And God’s nature after their sin was the same as He was since eternity past. The Old and New Testaments tell one story as thoroughly explained in the “The Story” by Randy Frazee. This is an excellent teaching series for thirty-one weeks for any church.

(Matthew 5:44-48 WEB) 44But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45That ye may be the children of your Father who [is] in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46For if ye love them who love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others]? do not even the publicans so? 48Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.

Note that I said in my introduction to this section that we are to strive to get to Jesus’ level – that would be to be perfect. We can never attain it in this life, but we are covered by Jesus’ blood and our striving will earn us the greeting “well done good and faithful servant”. By striving I must assume that means emulating the self-sacrificing attitude of Jesus that is described in this passage.

(Matthew 7:1-5 WEB) 1Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and the measure which ye give, shall be measured to you again. 3And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thy own eye? 4Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thy eye; and behold, a beam [is] in thy own eye? 5Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thy own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

When we presume to judge others we set ourselves up for closer examination. We must not ever presume to offer critiques when we have greater sins of the same issue or others. We cannot judge (sentence) anyway. Our object should always be for confronting and helping one another. Sort of like what comes around goes around. When we don’t have other’s best interests at heart, people will correctly surmise as such and learn not to trust us. And I take this passage to mean that it is God Himself that will measure out to us there same judgment we’ve given to others.

(Revelation 3:14-19 WEB) 14And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16So then, because thou art luke-warm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit thee out of my mouth: 17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness may not appear; and anoint thy eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see. 19As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

The letter to the Laodiceans is the only one of the seven letters in Revelations that Jesus totally condemns. There should be no doubt about the severity of complacency and self-dependency. I’m reminded every time a missionary team returns from a poor country, how much more genuine joy and appreciation for what they do have than we do in America. It’s our dependence on God that we need. Anything that not dependent on God is dependency on self. If we say without God I can still love we’re talking about a lesser level of love. Only Jesus exhibits perfect love, and it is TOTALLY SACRIFICIAL. Now be real – has anyone of us actually gotten to the TOTALLY level of SACRICAL LOVE?!