Conflict need never hinder the progress of the gospel. This message unpacks the way the early church dealt with three types of conflict in three different ways all with the same result.
When the Son of God came to earth, the people who encountered him struggled to know how to relate to him. This was because they didn’t know how to relate to each other. From the time humans rebelled against God, their souls have been hungry. They’ve developed methods to salve but never satisfy their hunger. One method of hunger abatement has been mutual exploitation.
When Jesus fed 5000 people with just a little food, those present discovered that Jesus had much to exploit. At first they attempted to build a relationship with Jesus based on feigned interest. They asked, “So Jesus, when did you get here?” Jesus brushed past this question to their real motives. He said, “You’re only here because I filled your bellies with bread.” Then he addressed their real need by telling them that they should work not for bread that will perish but for enduring bread.
But these people were very broken and they only heard the word, “work.” They understood work. “Of course,” they thought, “we know how things function around here. If you want something you have to work for it. He doesn’t want our feigned interest. He wants us to work.” So they asked Jesus what sorts of things they would need to do in order to satisfy God. Jesus gave them the cryptic answer, “Believe in me.”
Then they thought, “Wow, this guy really expects a lot. He wants us to revere him as a prophet.” So they said, “Well Jesus, if you want us to treat you like Moses, you’d better act like Moses. Give us some bread from heaven.” Again Jesus responded with an offer of bread for their souls. He replied, “Moses didn’t give you the real bread. My Father gives the real bread from heaven.”
“Now, we’re getting somewhere;” they mused, “all we’ve got to do is revere this guy as a prophet and we’ll have our physical hunger fixed for life.” “Sign us up, Jesus!” they said, feeling satisfied that they had finally brokered a mutually profitable deal.
Jesus, however, shattered their expectations with only six words – “I am the bread of life.” Jesus did not come to broker a deal. God, the Son, came to give himself as the only food for God-hungry souls. He exposed and denounced mutual exploitation with reckless self-sacrifice.
So, how should we react to Jesus? In the only way worthy of him: By acknowledging our need for him and by giving ourselves to him in kind through unconditional trust. Hear his words again from John 6:35, “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
So I ask you: Is your soul hungry? If so, I beg you to stop salving that hunger through human relationships, personal achievement, or even religion. Admit your need for him and give yourself to him in utter trust. You will be satisfied.
In this election year, how should Christians react to the government? What involvement should we have? Acts 12 has some answers.
Our king is already on the throne and he doesn’t need the help of politicians. I’m preaching on Acts 12 this week; maybe we need more worms to sweep through congress. Just thinking out loud.
Your Vote = Their Power
Politics is about power.
The two political parties are not political parties as we once knew them. They are consortiums of special interests. They operate on behalf of these interests for one purpose: to get and keep power.
Everything else they say is a lie.
The next time you feel like bowing down to your political party, remember this, and stand upright.
Don’t bend your knee to the R and the D. Register for whichever party, or as an independent, as you please. Vote according to your own understanding and conscience. I have no desire to influence you in that. But do not confuse your party’s trumpeting claims of moral superiority with actual moral superiority. Do not, ever, take the cross down off your mantelpiece and put the Republican elephant or the Democratic donkey in its place.
Both parties actively encourage such idolatry. They do…
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I’m coming to believe that human thought goes through three phases on individual and societal levels. Humans begin in intellectual childhood. They believe the things they’ve been told. They are limited by rules and driven by fear. Some societies and individuals remain in childhood. Often they do this because those entrusted to lead them seek only to exploit them. Whether it’s a communist government or a denominational board, codependent leadership must jealously defend the naiveté (pronounced “orthodoxy”) of their constituents.
Beyond childhood, humans can develop into adolescence. Those in this stage break out into individual thought and personal gratification. They rely on peers and mistrust established authority. They rabidly question assumptions and delight to liberate “children” from them. While more aware than children, intellectual adolescents have their own blind spots especially to the limits of their own perspective. For minds to progress they must go through some form of adolescence. Sadly, some people remain in adolescence indefinitely. One example would be Richard Dawkins and his sympathizers.
Should a person somehow find the humility to continue learning past adolescence, he or she will move on into intellectual adulthood. At this level, a person has faced struggles and had the rough edges knocked off. More than once, he or she has had to admit that much of what they were told while in childhood was in fact true though misunderstood or misinterpreted. Intellectual adults have discovered a world outside their own minds where others’ ideas and needs disallow the luxury afforded to the critic.
My prayer for all of us is that our minds can grow up. After all, Jesus told us to love God with our minds as well.