Sunday, July 11, 2010
By F. James Barker
This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glade in it.
Our dear Heavenly Father. You have brought us together and made us into one family, teaching all of us to love one another in Christ. We are Your church. We are different in many ways. In many ways we are more different than we are alike but Your love for us knows no human boundaries. We are family. We are one. We are Your church. Amen.
The stumbling block
Open your Bibles to Matthew 16: 18-19.
You are Peter, and I can guarantee that on this rock I will build my church. And the gates of hell will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.
Now go to Matthew 16: 21-23
From that time on Jesus began to inform his disciples that he had to go to Jerusalem. There he would have to suffer a lot because of the leaders, chief priests, and scribes. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be brought back to life. Peter took Him aside and objected to this. He said, Heaven forbid, Lord! This must never happen to You! But Jesus turned and said to Peter, Get out of My way, Satan! You are tempting me to sin. You aren't thinking the way God thinks but the way humans think.
Jesus blessed Peter and noted his exceptional leadership potential, but then turned to scold Peter as Satan's tool; Jesus great asset quickly became his great liability. Why this rapid turn of events? The cross cast its shadow over Jesus, showing that Peter had no clue to God's ways and thoughts.
The easy church. A cartoon in a church bulletin board announcing, "The light Church", with 24% fewer commitments, 10 minute sermons, 45 minute worship services and only eight commandments: Everything you've wanted in a church and less!
We think giving into temptation means doing something evil and immoral. When Jesus was confronted by Satan in the wilderness and by Peter, the temptation was to avoid the cross. Choose an easier way.
In Matthew 16:20 Jesus warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ. Why did Jesus insist they tell no one he was the Christ? People sought a militant, conquering, warrior Christ (Messiah) to destroy their enemies. But God sent a Christ who said, Love your enemies. Matthew 5:44 and who died on a cross. Man's ways and thoughts are so unlike God's! The easy way of conflict looks more attractive than the difficult way of the cross.
Humans seek certainty. Having the answers. Conflict arises as people claim certainty for their answers. Christianity's true power comes not in the type of certainty but in a certainty of God's sacrificial, self giving love expressed in Christ's death and resurrection. God's way is to admit how little we know and to show how much we trust in Him. To live with less certainty and more love!
Dear Lord. You are our perfect Father, but we are Your imperfect children full of human failings. We try to go our own way. Be patient with us because we cannot live without Your love. Help us to realize that doing Your will should come first no matter what the present situation is. Give us the strength, the wisdom and the love to be your servants. Amen.
Now may the Lord bless you and keep you; make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you; lift His face unto you and give you peace. In His Name. Amen
F. James Barker
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