Sunday, April 18, 2010

First Love

A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'"
"All these I have kept since I was a boy," he said.
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
Luke 18:18-25, NIV

I hate stuff.  I think stuff is anti-Christianity.  Usually, if I voice any opinion that even remotely suggests this opinion, I am assured that stuff is okay, as long as that stuff doesn't come first in your life.  If Jesus is your "first love," they say, all this other stuff is okay, too.

Are you sure?

I think it is worth mentioning that Jesus does not want some casual, half-effort relationship with you.  He died for you.  He wants that kind of commitment from you.  We are not talking about a once-a-month-guys-night-out friendship here.  We are talking about a singularly-focused, every-moment-is-about-you relationship.

Is it okay with Jesus if you love your stuff, so long as you love him, too?  If Jesus is first, can you have whatever stuff you want?  Is your wife okay with your mistress, so long as your wife is still your "first" love?


Saturday, April 17, 2010

How Can I Know I Am Saved?

We have tried to make this question the crux of Christianity: how can I know I will go to heaven?  The more appropriate question would be: how can I know I am saved? 

Either way, if you ask you are likely to get something along the lines of, "Have you ever prayed and accepted Jesus as your Savior?"  Maybe a little more or less theological-sounding, but that's essentially what people are looking for.  They are trying to remind you of that time when you were six years old and you repeated some prayer after some preacher and declared yourself "saved."

"Saved" isn't quite what it's cut out to be. 

Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?'" (Matthew 7:21-22, NIV). 

In Hebrew literature, repetition indicates significance and sincerity.  When these folks say, "Lord, Lord," it indicates that they have known about and professed Jesus for a long time.  It isn't like the kid who is caught climbing on the kitchen counter reaching into the cookie jar when his mom walks into the room and he says, "Hi, Mommy!" as if he isn't doing something wrong.  This is the kid who cuts the curtains apart and tries to sew the parts into a dress, and runs out to meet his mom when she gets home from work: "Mommy, Mommy, look what I made for you!"  Well, sorta.  These folks have been prophesying in Jesus name.  They have been driving out demons.  They performed miracles.  They are certain of their eternal security.

The problem is, their eternity isn't secure at all.  Jesus concludes, "Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (verse 23).  Oh, crud.  What went wrong here?  What about the prophesy and miracles and whatnot?  None of that stuff matters to Jesus.  He's not impressed. 

Well, if none of that stuff matters, what is Jesus looking for?

First, Jesus precedes this bit of information by drawing an analogy between people and fruit trees.  "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them" (verses 18-20).  A Christian can be recognized by his or her behavior.

Jesus concludes his reply to those who said, "Lord, Lord..." by saying, "Away from me, you evildoers!"  EVILDOERS.  If you are still doing evil, you are not following Christ...and probably not going to heaven, either.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Jesus Junkie

If you are interested in becoming a Jesus Junkie, you should try this new reading program starting today (4/11/10).  It's nothing original of mine, it's a plan created by Grant Horner, and I've put the PDF explaining the whole thing on my web site here for your review.  Basically, it divides the Bible into ten (completely unequal) sections, and you read one chapter from each section per day.

The ten sections are:
  1. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
  2. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
  3. Romans; I & II Corinthians; Galatians; Ephesians; Colossians; Hebrews
  4. I & II Thessalonians; I & II Timothy; Titus; Philemon; James; I & II Peter; I, II, & III John, Jude, Revelation
  5. Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon
  6. Psalms
  7. Proverbs
  8. Joshua; Judges; Ruth; I & II Samuel; I & II Kings; I & II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther
  9. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habukkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
  10. Acts

The PDF has bookmarks you can print and cut and put in your Bible, and that'll probably help keep it straight.  If you're not only a Jesus Junkie, but also a computer junkie, you can sign up online to help you keep up with the reading plan.  Simply create an account and enroll in the Prof. Horner's Bible Reading System.  Add me as a buddy; my user name is themikelyonsshow.