Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rescue the perishing and care for the dying

Good morning my friends. I hope it is a good morning for you and you are staying out of trouble. It isn't always easy to stay out of trouble, especially if you are a driver. There are a great variety of laws in our country that we need to follow as citizens and thankfully most are natural so we do not need to even think about them. Not many of us are going to rob a bank, or steal a purse or murder someone today. However, when we get behind the wheel of a car we face a huge chance of coming into conflict with the law. The reason I say this is because many drivers drive without thinking. It's like they put their brains in neutral when they get into their vehicle. They change lanes without using their indicators; they get caught up in conversation and end up speeding through a school zone; they forget to stop for pedestrians. Any of these simple things will put us in conflict with the law.

Now the laws are not bad and if we get a ticket we should be thankful. Those laws are there to protect us and the people around us. They keep us safe and allow a lot of people to live well together. One of the signs of a proper society is a list of codes or laws that govern the people, protecting the values of that society. It is no different with our spiritual community. God put in place a set of laws that reflect the character of himself to govern the people. Some saw that when Israel received the Ten Commandments they became a true nation. After the death and resurrection of Jesus and with the giving of the Holy Spirit that law became written on the hearts of God's people. The basis of that law is love which we find in Jesus' summary of the law:

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Luke 10:27)

When we are governed by this love then we follow the law without realizing it or thinking about it. When we take wrong action or thought the Spirit is there to convict us and to bring us back to a proper thinking and action. It requires us to be open and sensitive to the Spirit. However, this does not mean we should forget about the law or set it aside. It is true that we are under God's grace and he deals with us according to this grace but the law has a purpose. Paul tells Timothy that there is a manner in which to apply it. First he writes to him:

 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. (1 Timothy 1:8)

Then Paul reminds Timothy that the law still has its original purpose, to reveal sin in people:

We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. vs. 9-11

This was the purpose of the law in the first place, to show us how far we fall short of the glory of God. Without the law there would have been no measuring stick and we would have thought that our behaviour was normal and acceptable. We can't stop preaching the Ten Commandments to the world because they need to know that their actions and heart condition is keeping them separated from God. They need to know that they need a saviour, that there is a reason Jesus died on the cross for them.

Without the law people do not understand why they need Jesus. We can tell them that Jesus loves them and died on the cross for them but without the law they cannot understand the context. Homosexuality will soon be recognized as normal around the world. Prostitution will begin to be legalized and taxed. It is already normal for people to live together for a year or so and then move on to a new partner. More and more the Christian standards of our society are being let go. I agree with everyone of you who are saying "What's the big deal, their actions won't save them? They have to know Jesus". However, it is a big deal in that we are beginning to see our societies slip back into a state of lawlessness where they no longer fear God.

Paul told Timothy that the law is good when used properly. We need to lift it up and remind people that without Christ they will be judged against this law. The Scriptures tell us that it is because of these things that the wrath of God is coming. We have to rescue people. We don't need to yell it at them, tear them down or call them names. We need to tell them about the law from a motivation of love. "Because I love you I need to warn you that God had told us not to do what you are doing. People who do these things are going to lose out on the day of God's judgment. The good news is that he sent Jesus to rescue us from that judgment." It is a good use of the law. Don't be afraid to tell people they are wrong, just do it with the motivation of love and the Spirit will give you the words. May our Lord use us today to rescue a few thousand of those who are perishing in their ignorance. For those of you driving today, be careful.

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