Tuesday, 1 November 2016

The Peaceful Way

57. " As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 
58.  And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
 59. To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead.
 But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 
62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9 : 57 - 62. ESV.

In the above passage , the Lord Jesus Christ Jesus gave men who had encountered Him and volunteered to follow Him , the first hand introduction to how their new life as Christ's followers would be.
The first man who volunteered to follow Jesus must have been put off  by the lack of suitable accommodation for Jesus and His followers.
The second man person was actually called by Jesus Christ ( what an honour !) but this man asked for permission from the Lord for him to first go and pay his father the last respect of a befitting funeral.
Then the third man , another volunteer , asked to be allowed to go take proper leave of his family before following Jesus.
Their desires to  meet their  different needs and to adhere to their community's cultural laws were the reasons why these persons who had encounters with Jesus Christ could not make the total commitment to follow Him.
Each of these men who made their excuses for not , immediately , following Jesus  did not ask for too much . 
All they wanted was a nice place to live in ; or to do the proper thing by burying a departed father ; or to do the polite thing by saying "good bye " to friends and families before embarking on their New Life with Jesus .
In those days and even now , all these three demands were and are perfectly in order.
Normal human beings live in houses with the basic amenities , at least.
Burying one's father is the duty of every child.
Especially , informing family and friends is the proper and polite thing  to do , before leaving home for an extended period of time.
No responsible child or adult would just " up sticks " and leave home without first informing , at least, their immediate  families about where they are going , why they are going there and with whom they will be embarking on their adventure or journey.
Failure to inform their people about their whereabouts , was and still is considered as rude , selfish and insensitive to the feelings of their loved ones .
The effects of such "AWOL " escapades on their families would be worries , fears , panic and anger.
"Where is he ; what has happened to him ? He knows we would be worried ! He couldn't even send us a message through someone or even a phone call or text message ?
Why ? How could he do this to us ? "
Nowadays , after 24 hours of hearing nothing from the incommunicado absentee ,  most people would inform the police to declare their loved one "Missing" ; and they would launch a search party for them .

33. " But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven.
34.  Do not assume that I have come to bring peace to the earth ; I have not come to      bring peace , but a sword . 
35.  For I have come to turn  a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.…" 
Matthew 10: 33 - 35 ( Berean Study Bible )
The above Bible passage has been cited as the support for many attitudes by Christians.
Back in the day  and even presently , there were and there still are doctrines preached from many church pulpits stating that in order to avoid the sin of "looking back " and "the defilement of the world " ,Christians should shun all contacts with "sinners" ; even the "sinners" in their own families .
These doctrines have resulted in Christians being  at "war " with persons who are  not born again whether such persons are members of their own  families , or their long-term bosom / close friends and keeping at arm's length their neighbours , their work colleagues and  even their business partners.
Some churches even preach that their members should shun all contacts with members of  many other churches which they brand as " demonic " and "sinful"  !

What is the purpose of our Christian Faith expressed through the Gospel of Jesus Christ ?
The purpose is for us to see God and to lead men to see God.
The Bible states in Hebrew 12: 14 -15  :
 " Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 
 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; "  .
So what was the message the Lord Jesus Christ was trying to send to His followers in the above  passage in Luke 9 : 57- 62  ?
Was Christ saying the proper lifestyles of His followers would be for them to roam about homeless ; or that His followers should shun and reject contacts with "dead people"meaning all non- Christians ?
Or was He saying that rudeness and aggression towards family and friends were the requisite attributes of His true disciples ?
Simply put , in those encounters the Lord Jesus was saying to those men; " You wanna Follow Me ? Come , but no sitting on the fence !"
Sitting on the Fence means indecision  and inconsistency in Faith and Focus.
From the words of Christ in His response to these man , we could hear the Lord declaring the PRICE to pay for following Him.
This PRICE entails Detachment , Complete Trust ( Faith ) and Unwavering Commitment to life with Jesus Christ.
Unwavering Commitment to Life in Jesus Christ does not begin and end with working inside the Church only. There is Life inside and outside the Church because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all-encompassing and it covers every aspect of human life in earth.
" I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 
10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 
11I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 
John 10: 9-10.
Putting one's hand to the plough and looking back does not mean performing one's lawful duties which would ensure one's survival and sustenance on earth .
Engaging in day-to-day activities in communities in the world is the duty of all good citizens , including all committed Christians and performing these daily duties does not necessarily result in Compromise with the world.
Fear of being tainted by the worldly system is no excuse for Christians to be reclusive , lazy ,unfriendly , anti-social , ignorant and unproductive .
" You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world ". 
1 John 4:4.
Followers of Christ could remain committed to following Him and yet Christians could live in this world , peaceably and with holiness  , while meeting up with their responsibilities to their families , friends , jobs and their communities .
The Way of Peace to be  followed by Christians is the way of Faith and Wisdom through Grace which ensures  obedience and commitment to the Christian Walk and Work as the Disciples of Jesus Christ .

" And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God ". Romans 12 : 2.

May we be blessed and fruitful , always. Amen 

Happy New Year !