God created us to be in relationships with one another, and with Himself. That is why I wrote as I did yesterday about the loss of letter writing and more personal forms of communication. The electronic media has its place, but we should not want it to detract from true person to person communion. Our church congregation has had a sister congregation relationship with a Lutheran church in Mishi, Tanzania for about 15 year. I have the privilege today of going back to see them and renew friendship. For this reason Good Morning will be taking a break from this writing until July 3rd. I covet you prayer for safety in travel for our group of 20, that it would be a valuable experience for all, especially those going for the first time, and that in whatever opportunities we have to share, our Lord Jesus will be lifted up. Pray also for my wife and those who remain at home, and for my congregation as I am away. I will try to give you updates on my Facebook page. How about that! The old man is putting at least a toe into the modern age. God’s richest blessings to you all.
Personal letter writing is falling out of favor in our electronic era. Text messages and 140 character Tweets have taken their place, but it is not the same thing. I find it a sad loss because there is so little of one’s self shared in these quick bits of electronic information – as well as the loss of grammar, punctuation, etc. Thirteen of the book of our New Testament are letters from a deeply caring and loving man, Paul, to people with whom he shared a personal relationship. Much of his own soul is in those letters, poured out for the good of those to whom he wrote. Ten of those letters begin with the greeting, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Unfortunately, that would take up 50 of the 140 characters in a Tweet!) But look at the love and the desire for their good he conveys to them from the start. Maybe we should consider taking pen in hand to write a thoughtful letter to ones we care about. And there is nothing wrong with beginning with Paul’s greeting as our own.
Our two year old grandson is at the “I can do it” stage. Whatever it is he wants to do it by himself. He is doing well with a number of things, but his “I can do it” still needs guidance. But, you know, that is a lesson for life. We should have the spirit of wanting try, to figure out a problem, to do the best we can at a task. Yet, we all need guidance. God, as our gracious Father, gives us that guidance by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. A week ago we celebrated the Festival of Pentecost, and yesterday the Holy Trinity. God has revealed Himself as the total provision for our life, the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sanctifier. In His Word and by the presence of His Spirit, God gives us the guidance and strength we need. What he seeks is a humble and teachable heart. This is a lesson our little grandson will learn over time. It is a hard one that keeps coming up throughout life. But in Christ, and by the presence of His Spirit, we can do it.
At the Grand Canyon in Arizona there is a glass walkway that has been built at one location so that visitors can look straight down into its depth. The walkway allows people to get a true perspective of the depth of that gorge. If one only looks across the gorge to a sunset or the beautiful colors of the rock they do not see the tremendous gulf that separates them. There is something of a parable for life here. We live our day to day routine that we see as normal. This is what life is. Some good days. Some not so good days. It is like looking across the expanse of the canyon. What we don’t fully realize is the depth that sin has cut a deep gorge into human life. There is a tremendous gulf that separates the sinful nature of our earthly life and the majestic holiness of Almighty God. It is only the Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer God has given, that can bridge that gorge, and bring us into the beauty of His holiness.
There is an economic lesson people need to think about. There I go again getting into field know nothing about! But this one really touches all life. It is learning the difference between wants and needs. Many seem to feel that true freedom is to be able to do whatever you want, buy what ever you want, and go wherever you want. But actually that is a definition of bondage. One is bound to nothing higher than ones own will, to a wisdom no higher than one’s own mind. Some are egotistical enough to think this is sufficient, but it isn’t. Jesus and those who followed Him taught that true freedom, the satisfaction of all true needs, is being willing to yield to One whose wisdom is above all others, and who is the One who truly loves us with an everlasting love. It is why they would refer to themselves as servants, or slaves of Christ. They knew that their true freedom, their satisfaction in life, the fullness of their joy was found in a growing relationship with their Saviour. Paul wrote,“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” (Colossians. 3:1-2) In Him all or our needs will ultimately be satisfied, and all our wants fulfilled.
There is a great outcry today against so called hate speech coming from various groups. There are demonstrations and protest on college campuses against certain invited speakers. A local college in our area had an outcry from students over a bulletin board the Republican Club put up with material they felt was offensive. Certainly there have been some terrible crimes that have happened because of deeply held hateful attitudes, like the murder of a young black Army lieutenant just a week before his college graduation. These acts must be condemned, and punished to the full extent of the law. But we are a nation founded on the principle of freedom, and especially that of speech, press, and assembly. We must be willing to listen to one another even if we don’t agree with what is said. An opposing view, especially to society’s currently held standard of diversity, is not in itself hate speech. Christians are committed to the truth of God’s Word, the Bible. We do speak in opposition to the accepted values of the LGBT community. But we do not, we must not, hate anyone. We are all sinful beings for whom our Lord Jesus died. Yet there are values and standards for life that our God has given for our best good. As believers in Christ, and in the truth of God’s Word, we must uphold these God-given values. By so doing we are not bigots. We are simply trying to speak the truth God has given for the good of all mankind. I would hope it is possible, at least is some areas, to listen to one another without having to shout and demonstrate.
I look out of my office window at our back yard. The predominant color is green in the grass, trees, shrubs, and plants. Yet there is a tremendous variety of shades from light, near to yellow, to dark and almost black. It is the variation that give it beauty. It would be a very dull scene if all were a single shade. So it is with life, and especially with the marriage relationship between a man and a woman. God created them to be complementary. To be complete we need what the other has to share. Sometimes I use that lament of Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady to my wife, “Oh why can’t a woman be like a man?” when I don’t understand something she is trying to share. But that is not how God made us. We need to be patient and exercise some humility, realizing that I can frustrate the other as much as they do to me. In all relationships there must be room for truth, patience, forgiveness, and sacrificial love.
Luke chapter 24 is the account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In verse five the women who went to the tomb early on that Sunday morning encountered two angels who ask them a question. “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” This is the New International Version translation from the original Greek. The New American Standard Version inserts the word One after living. “Why do you seek the living One among the dead?” Most other translations simply use “the living”, but I think the meaning of the angel’s question is the same. Jesus is the Living One. He is not a dead prophet. He is not merely a historical figure in the long distant past. He is the Living One, as alive today as He was when He walked the shores of Galilee, or the streets of Jerusalem. We do not worship a dead prophet, but a living Lord who walks in a relationship with us as He did those first disciple in Palestine. Jesus is the Living One.
Everyone wants and evaluation of how they are doing. We bought a chair a couple weeks ago. The furniture store has sent me two requests to rate their service. You buy from Amazon and they want to know how satisfied you were with the transaction. Even the doctors office and hospital wants you to rate their service. OK, I understand about competition and wanting to satisfy more customers so they come back. Personally I find it a nuisance. But it is also something individuals want to know. Unless one’s ego is so big they already believe they are the greatest, they want to have a sense of acceptance and value. But our God has said, “I created you. I love you. I have given my life to redeem you. You are my child for Jesus sake.” We can have no greater status or acceptance than that. We can be content in the truth that in Christ we are children of the King. It matters very little how anyone else sees us.
Jesus left us with some very hard sayings. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,…”(Matthew 5:24) “Do good to those who hate you,…”(Luke 6:27) “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”(Matthew 5:41) Or even “Love your neighbor as yourself.”(Mark 12:21) A man once asked Jesus who was his neighbor? Maybe it would be better to ask ourselves “who is our enemy?”. We might consider the one who just cut us off in traffic. Or the office mate who is constantly irritating. Or the bully at school. Or the vindictive person who seems to take pleasure in causing trouble. Or…Or…Or… You can fill in the dots. What would happen if we were to more consistently apply these hard saying of Jesus? I really don’t know how much change it might bring to the other person, but I do believe it would bring a substantial change in us. It has also been known to introduce a few people to the Saviour.