Lectionary Reflection: John 15.26..16.15: Sooner Than We Think

            I was thinking about the Catholic Church suing the federal government over National Health Care.  Did you know the state can now disregard long-held traditions and beliefs of the church for its own purposes?  Then I was thinking about Dietrich Bonheoffer and the Barmen Declaration telling Hitler that he has no right to tell the churches what they can and cannot preach – and him thrown into a Nazi prison to his ultimate death for taking such a stand.

            I was thinking about how such a small minority in this country can sue and remove every vestige of faith, in particular Judeo-Christian faith from public:  prayer from schools, prayer from every public event, nativity scenes, the 10 commandments from courtrooms, or really almost any expression of religion in public.  Then I was thinking how many millions of Christian Americans believe the separation of church and state is not only in the constitution, but have been convinced that it is a good thing.

            I was thinking about how the media likes to find the most backward, atypical church to lift up as an example “Christian” thinking, thus denigrating with a broad brush millions upon millions of Christians and tens of thousands of churches that don’t think that way.  I was thinking of how the media handled the issues of Islamic terrorism (burning a Koran), contraception, and gay marriage as just three recent examples. 

            I was thinking what Jesus said about how they will put us out of the synagogues.  I have seen sincere believers driven out of churches so the social butterflies and nominal Christians might not feel threatened.  Jesus said, “the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.”  Do you understand this?  Do you believe it may happen soon?  I think so.

—–

            Jesus said the Advocate (the Holy Spirit) would convict the world (declare it wrong and guilty) on sin, righteousness and judgment. 

—–

            Judgment is a simple issue:  Jesus has come and completed the work.  There is only one name in Heaven and on earth by which a person can be saved:  Jesus.  Apart from Jesus, a person is condemned already.  This is not a kind of predestination, but in truth the judgment has already been made, and people either are saved or are not saved.  There is no amount of theological juggling or works or prayers or jumping through hoops that can change things.  And wanting God to be the kind of God who simply accepts everyone in the end, regardless, does not make him so.  The judgment part is done.

            Righteousness is also a simple issue.  Jesus is God.  Jesus is with God.  Jesus and the Father are one.  However you want to understand it.  What Jesus has told us, what has been testified (witnessed) to us in the Old and New Testaments.  This is true.  This is what we are to be and do.  This is what pleases God.  This is righteousness.  Anything else, any deviation is, by definition, not righteousness. 

            And again, no amount of theological juggling or works or prayers or jumping through hoops is going to change that.  Wanting God to justify a life and lifestyle  because he is “gracious” is not going to make him do it.  The best mechanic can only do so much for the car owner who defies the owner’s manual.  The Bible is the owner’s manual.  God’s grace does not extend to changing it to suit individual people.  And neither is God’s grace going to justify people simply because they have a squirrely definition of grace.

            Sin, of course, is the simplest issue of all.  We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  That simply means none of us is perfect.  And God has no reason to accept our imperfect selves.  I know I won’t willingly allow rotten eggs into my house, to stink up the whole house.  Why should God be any different?

            Some say that God is loving, gracious, merciful and kind and will not willingly condemn anyone.  I don’t know who came up with that stupid idea.  The devil, I suppose.  God’s love, grace, mercy, kindness and willingness have nothing to do with condemnation.  Sin has to do with condemnation.  God made it so easy.  His name is Jesus.  Apart from Jesus people remain in their rotten eggs and are condemned already (not welcome in God’s house).  To reject Jesus is to accept self-condemnation. 

            Look:  The world wants to be justified in every way.  People want to be thought of as righteous in the way they live and the things they say and do, and they want God to accept them and call them perfect just as they are.  But the truth is this: that race, creed, color, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, even religion don’t matter one bit.  The world is only made up of two types of people.  There are those who know Jesus and those who need to know Jesus.  Nothing else ultimately matters.

            Testify to this fact to all those who need to know Jesus and see how long it is before the state tries to force you to change, or at least tries to force you to shut-up.  See how long it is before the media does an expose on you with the intent of ridiculing you and by extension all the millions of good Christian people with you.  See how long it takes before you start getting death threats.  I was thinking it may be sooner than you  think.

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