Saturday, June 14, 2014

Who Has Your Allegiance?

Tell me something, if Jesus showed up and healed you of some great affliction, would you believe he is who he says he is? Would you then hold his authority above all other authority and decide to follow him no matter what? It's amazing how many don't. It's amazing how many people have been changed for all eternity by the Son of God and yet they give their allegiance to other authorities.

There is an incident in John 5 where Jesus encountered a man waiting to be healed by the waters of the Pool of Bethesda. He had been there for years because he had no one to lift him into the water when the water was stirred. Jesus asked the obvious question "Do you want to be made well?" The man said he did but he had no one to help him. Jesus made quick work of it:

Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. (John 5:8-9)

The problem was this happened on the Sabbath. Carrying his bed was against the man-made Sabbath rules so the man was called out on it. Immediately he explained he was only following the orders of the man who had healed him. So here, at first, this man recognized the authority of Jesus. After all, he did heal the him. The leaders challenged the him and asked who it was that healed him but the man did not know. You might think that would be the end of it.

Jesus sought the man out again and said to him:

“See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” (v. 14)

What was there about the man's heart that Jesus decided to seek him out again to instruct him in this manner? What sin did this man harbor in his heart that remained even after the body had been healed? We can see his heart had not been changed because right after Jesus left him he went straight to the authority to tell them it was Jesus who had healed him and told him to carry his bed on the Sabbath. Was this because he was afraid of the Jewish authorities or because he did not like the condition of his heart being exposed?

Following Jesus in this world is not the easiest thing we will ever do, not when we do it right. We have been instructed to obey the authorities of this place but it is also clear that Jesus is above all authority. Jesus told us that if we loved him we would obey him. Jesus' instructions supersede all other instructions by the authority in this place. But often it is easier to give in to what we are more familiar with and what is immediately in front of us. This is going to become more important in the near future as the authority will become more influenced by the sin nature than by the holiness of Yahweh.

We know that China is cracking down on house churches but do you know it is also happening in Canada and parts of the US? Do you know that in some cities it is against the law to have a Bible Study in your home? It has been against the law in many Canadian cities for years now for street preachers to preach on the streets. In the part of the city in which I live, the city refuses to give out permits and zoning for any new churches. Churches, that change neighbourhoods by the good we have been commanded in love to show to our neighbours.

So who do we owe our allegiance to; the authority that is governed by the sinful nature, or to the Holy One who went to the cross for us? When they tell us to stop preaching and teaching in Jesus name, to whom do we listen? To whom did the apostles listen? In one region in China the authority is tearing down churches and removing crosses. They are about to forcefully end 32 house churches. Do we think for a moment that this will stop the spread of the gospel? Of Course not. In China the Christians know to whom they owe their allegiance and they are not going to back down.

The Christians of China have had decades of persecution and oppression to build their spiritual muscles. In North America, with all our ease, we have grown fat and lazy in the Church, so much so we waste our time on debating the Word of God. We have allowed man's thinking, philosophies, speculations to dilute the Word without defending it. There is such confusion now, we have to wonder, will there be anyone left to stand for Jesus in the coming trials? I ask you, to whom do we owe our allegiance?

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