COVID-19 Nature’s Judgement?

The Pope is quoted by a British newspaper as saying the corona-virus pandemic is “certainly nature’s response” to our failures in regard to climate change. I am not Catholic and I am not too familiar with the person of the Pope and what he might mean by this comment but I do find it interesting and want to follow the idea he presented as I understand it. I see some issues here that many Christians might be grappling with and I hope to provide clarity about the times we find ourselves.  

In this article the Pope personalizes nature and speaks of nature as if nature is sentient. Now he must be simply speaking in the same way one might personalize a boat or car and that is fine except as leader of Catholic Christians it is confusing especially when there are other religions that believe in “mother nature” contrary to the Christian Church. There is only one God and he created the physical world that makes up nature. Further down in the article the Pope is quoted “Fires, earthquakes … nature is throwing a tantrum so that we will take care of her.” Nature is not a personal being and we might casually give nature a personality when speaking about issues like hurricanes and pandemics however our leaders should be much more precise.

20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. Romans 8:20-22 ESV

Paul writes that all of creation, the earth, the universe, animals, and people are groaning under the weight of corruption. Nature is in the same boat as men. Nature is not apart from human kind. All of the creation is under a curse that came from Adam and Eve. The creation is subject to God and God should be the focus when we look at death and destruction. The Pope asks why a pandemic? And his answer is because we are bad stewards of the earth. This may well be true but it is only a small truth not the full truth. My frustrations with the Pope’s comments beyond personalizing Nature in the way he has done is that he limits our response to God.

God is in control of nature. God controls the wind, waves, and pandemic. They all move according to his will. Even if we were perfect stewards of this earth, and the Bible tells us we can’t be because we are sinners, the Earth would still be groaning and decaying because “the creation was subjected to futility” by God himself. This earth, this life, this world, and even this universe is no longer permanent. Just as my body is aging and will die not matter how much I take care of it so too the earth is aging and will one day be destroyed.

7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 2 Peter 2:7 ESV

 Modern man is no less able to hold back God’s hand in wind, waves, and pandemics, than those that came before us. The Pope is not wrong that bad stewardship brings physical consequences. However, we must also know that God never promised a life free of hardship, a life free of death, or a life free of pain. What God promised is that if we trust him here and now and submit to Jesus Christ that he will give us peace in the storm. The storms will rage but my hope and my peace remain because of God

While we are in the midst of the COVID-19 storm where does your trust turn? In the Creator of nature and the person of Jesus or in the fallen dying creation be it science, government, or nature?

Romans 7:1 | When in Rome

There is an idiom “when in Rome” that means when you visit or travel to a location that you should try, adopt, or live with the norms of that society. While you are in a country be it your own or one you visit you must follow the laws of that country. Americans when they travel abroad sometimes have a bad reputation because they do not respect the local cultures and rules. I know I appreciate when someone who is visiting my community goes out of their way to understand and acknowledge how we do things.

Paul in his letter to the church in Rome uses this when in Rome idea to make a life changing point about how God works out salvation and restoration of human kind.

Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? Romans 7:1 ESV

We all know the law it is written in our hearts and God makes it concreate with the Ten Commandments. Do not lie, do not murder, and so on. While you live on this planet you are bound to the law. When in Rome… The law written in your heart, your conscience, condemns when we fail to meet its expectations. Paul writing to a group that knows Jewish law very well then goes into detail about a specific law regarding adultery.

3 Accordingly, [a woman] will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Romans 7:3 ESV

Divorce, unfortunately, is common in American culture so much so that many people refuse to even get married because of the pain of the situation. Paul using this as an example shows that when two people are married that they are bound under the law for a life time. Only death of one partner frees the other to remarry. The law is binding as long as we live on this planet. Jesus spoke about this issue when a group questioned him asking if a man had married multiple times over the course of life what wife would he be with in Heaven.

29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” Matthew 22:29-32 ESV

The laws that make the standard for life on earth and the rules of life on this earth do not apply after death. Death ends the hold of the law on people both in the positive way, marriage, and in the negative way, adultery. In eternity the law will no longer be our master and no longer will we be slaves to the passion it brings up in our hearts.

5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. Romans 7:5-6 ESV

We are married to the law of sin and apart from God. The law points out our sinful passions and inflames them even more. And as long as we live, we are bound to the law of sin and unable to be with God. So, God in his grace and love kills us to free us from the law sin. This is the message of the gospel. We die to ourselves. We are buried with Christ. And we are raised to a new life. A new life bound and now remarried to the Spirit.

4 We were buried therefore with [Christ] by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4 ESV

Romans 5:17 | Change your Family Tree

We are in a predicament. You and I, dear reader, are both born into a broken family. Now I work hard to show everyone that my family has it all together but the reality that I know and the reality my family knows is that we have issues. I know, dear reader, that your family has hidden issues as well. How do I know that? Because we are both people and we are under a curse. Everyone has issues some families are just better at keeping those issues out of the public than others. What Adam and Eve did at the very beginning left all of humanity in a mess and yes under a curse.

17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Romans 5:17 ESV

The trespass of Adam brought death to his family and to the families of all his descendants. This is hard to accept for modern man because we do not hold the sins of the father against the son. But in this case humanity was born into the decay of death because the sins of our father Adam are also our sins. We continue in the sins of Adam and embrace selfishness like all those before us.

When building a family tree most people start with themselves and work backward creating a tree and branches on the way back in time. However, this is backward. Our family tree actually starts with Adam and Eve as the seed of destruction and from this seed is the growth of a family that branches out into peoples, nations, and culture over time. Yet all of those families and nations share the original seed of sin from Adam. We are in a mess and there is nothing we can do to fix the family because the root is bad. The seed we draw our life from was corrupted from the start.

Yet there is hope. God steps in through the person of Jesus Christ and a new family tree is started. This new tree is alive with the grace of God. This tree is free of sin and death because the seed is the perfect righteous life of God.

16 If the part of the dough offered as first fruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. Romans 11:16-18 ESV

God breaks all the rules. He does something amazing for those that call on the name of Jesus for salvation. He cuts them out of the dead tree of Adam and He then grafts that person into a new family tree. The living tree of Jesus Christ. The root of Jesus is holy and we who are grafted in receive nourishment from the life giving source of Christ.

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. John 15:5-6 ESV

Romans 4:16 | Faithful Loving Children

God has made many promises that are recorded in the Bible. Maybe the most important of all those promises is the promise made to Abraham about a future nation. Abraham is the father of the Jewish peoples and they recognize him as their patriarch. But this promise that God made to Abraham was bigger than just a physical blood bond. God’s promise to Abraham is that he would be the father of many nations.

5 And [God] brought [Abraham] outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:5-6 ESV

Abraham is not just the physical father of the Jewish people. Abraham is the spiritual father of all people who believed in Christ. Abraham is the example of trusting God even when we can’t see what God is doing. Abraham is the father of faith. Abraham’s example is our example of trusting and loving God.

16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all. Romans 4:16 ESV

One of my favorite recounting of saving faith involves Jesus and a tax collector. In this event recorded in the Gospel of Luke we see a Jew who is the physical son of Abraham come to a saving faith that makes him the true spiritual son of Abraham.

He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:1-10 ESV

Jesus pronounced this son of Abraham saved. Is Zacchaeus saved because he “also is a son of Abraham” or is he now a son of Abraham because salvation came to Zacchaeus on that day. Is Zacchaeus saved because he promises to give away his wealth or is Zacchaeus saved because he has a miraculous saving moment with Jesus and out of the overflow of that love, trust, and faith Zacchaeus wants to give up his ill-gotten gain?

We tend to look at the physical situation first. Those Paul is writing to claim to be physical heirs to Abraham and they look to the law of the Jews for salvation. But Paul wants them to know that the promise God made to Abraham and the response of Abraham to trust God is what made Abraham the father of faith. Paul wants us to see the spiritual response first. I am not Jewish but Abraham is my spiritual father because we share in the same faith. Zacchaeus is a son of Abraham not by physical blood bonds but by spiritual faith bonds. Abraham, Zacchaeus, and any follower of Christ share the same faith.

Salvation and the promise of God comes not from our physical circumstances but from the condition of our heart. Do you trust God like Abraham trusted God? Jesus lived a sinless life, died on a cross, and rose from the dead that we might be saved. Do you believe him? Do you trust him to do what he says he will do?

16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all. Romans 4:16 ESV

Romans 3:4 | God is Justified

Is God of the Bible true? Is God trustworthy? These are big questions that if they are to be answered then God himself would need to provide the answer. He can’t remain silent on this topic. The good news is that God has revealed himself and his nature to us that we may know for sure that he is true and that he is trustworthy.

4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” Romans 3:4 ESV

God is the standard and truth can be measured against him. God since the creation of the world has made himself known to human kind. If an individual denies that God exists or denies what God has done to reconcile humanity through Jesus Christ then that person is calling God a liar.

There are two ways God has provided truth and answered his critics. By denying these two truths we set ourselves against God and against our own existence.

19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Romans 1:19-20 ESV

First God has made himself known by the very complication and creativity of nature. Where there is a Creation there is a Creator. Where there are laws there is a Law Giver. We can deny that God created and we can invent all kinds of mechanisms for how life came about but none of them are truly satisfying because apart from God who operates separate from the Creation there is only fan fiction trying to figure out how creation created itself.

10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:10-12 ESV

Second God has made himself known through the person of Jesus Christ. God being true and wanting to reconcile with rebellious man came down in the form of a man, Jesus, and then paid the penalty of sin on our behalf. Rejecting this truth leaves the individual apart from God. Jesus came as nothing and left with nothing. Yet here we are thousands of years later still talking about his words recorded at that time. God’s truth and God’s outreach to humanity remain for us even today.

One may reject or accept Christ. There is no middle ground. God has not given us any other options. The good news is that God has provided a way to be reconciled to him. The even better news is that he has given us life in this Creation and the good news of Jesus to recognize his faithfulness. Now is the time of grace to accept his outstretched hand.

Romans 2:24 | Don’t be a Jerk

I am not a people person. What I mean is that I am a shy introvert. I am more comfortable behind a keyboard than at a social gathering. Yet God has asked me to be uncomfortable and to reach outside my family to connect with others and be a people person. Sometimes I get shocked responses when I tell someone I am an introvert because in public I try to be friendly and personable to everyone. Years ago my wife and I opened our home to serve and host others in the community. I have learned much about reaching out and being welcoming to people I meet in the community. I am convinced that this is the duty of all those called by God and who take on the name of Christian. It is not hard. Listen more than you talk and take people as they are.

Paul in his letter to the Church in Rome is warning the young church about judging because this kind of judgement causes separation. Paul does not want this church to be cut off from the community in Rome. Specifically, he addresses the Jews who are now Christian warning them to not bring the bad habits of their culture forward into the Church of Christ.

24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” Romans 2:24 ESV

William Barclay in his commentary of Romans paints a very unflattering picture of how the Jewish people were despised by the average Roman citizen. The Jewish people had all kinds of special dispensations given to them by the Roman government that other people did not have. Worse yet the Jewish people had a reputation for being rude and hostile to outsiders. For example, Barclay writes that Jewish peoples were allowed to honor the Sabbath. They flaunted this rule and made the Gentile community work around their schedule. The Jews were then called lazy by those inconvenienced. This Sabbath allowance extended even to the military. Because of the Sabbath rules Jews made for bad soldiers so they were exempt from conscription into the army. One might imagine the political ramification of such an unfair imbalance among the population. Reading the gospels, it is clear that the disciples did not like Rome and wanted Jesus to kick the Romans out but on the flip side the average Gentile did not like the closed community of Jews either. General unfriendliness went both ways.

6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ Exodus 19:6a

God intended that the Jewish people, the nation that He called and blessed would be a priest that could point the entire world toward God. Paul desired that the Church in Rome would be able to fulfill that role. Here Peter puts into words what Paul may have been thinking in his letter to Rome.

9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 1 Peter 2:9-12 ESV

Today I try to live this kind of life before the community. I want more than anything for God to be glorified. I want the community I live into to know the grace and mercy that comes from God. Whatever good deeds I may do in service to others is motivated by my desire to glorify God. If you are called by God and claim the mantel of Christian then maybe it is time to host a party at your house for your neighbors. Be gracious and listen to them. You may just find Jesus at work in their lives. Maybe it is time for Christians to join Jesus at work.

Romans 2:1 | No Excuse Judgment

I would hate to be a judge. I can’t imagine presiding over a court where the judgment might alter life of an individual forever. Sentencing someone to life in prison is harsh. What kind of hope and what kind of future is that for the one life we have to live? Yet I do judge and I do condemn but thankfully I don’t have authority to imprison and thankfully some of the most judgmental people I know are not in charge. We should all be circumspect before writing others off or judging someone as not worth an effort of relationship.

Paul after detailing what a sinner looks like in Chapter 1 of Romans pivots on his audience and tells them to not to judge the sinner. Casually reading Romans his warning is well timed because right after the details on how people rebel against God and what that rebellion looks like my mind started to think of certain people or certain types of people that fall into these sinner categories. But that is not what Paul wants the reader to think so he drops a rebuke on that.

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Romans 2:1 ESV

Lest I forget I am a sinner also Paul puts a hold on his narrative to warn the reader. Because when I go back to Chapter 1 I can find myself in this list.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Romans 1:28-31 ESV

I have gossiped. I have been greedy. I have been deceitful. I have been arrogant. I have been loveless. I could continue… So Paul provides a well-timed rebuke to me. Do not condemn others because you yourself are in the same boat. It is like two people in a life raft in the middle of the ocean and me pointing to the other person and saying “You are a looser and you are going to die in this raft.” When the same reality applies to me as the other person is the same situation.

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:37-38 ESV

Jesus talks about my judgement toward others as a negative response. If all people are created in God’s image. If all people are descendants of Adam and Eve then no matter what they have done they are still of the same flesh and blood that I was made from. Jesus contrasts the negative judgment and condemnation done by me, with the restorative and positive of forgiveness and giving. Jesus is saying don’t judge your neighbor but forgive your neighbor because God has forgiven you. Give love and compassion to your neighbor because God has shown love and compassion to you. God wants not that we tear each other down but God wants his followers to build up.

Jesus then jumps into one of the most famous parables

41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Luke 6:41-42 ESV

Look at how Jesus challenges the listener to get themselves right so they can help the other person. It is about building up. If I can only condemn and judge the other person to tear them down where is God in that? How is he glorified?

While I am not a judge (thankfully) there is a real judgement against all of us sinners. A righteous judgment that only God can give because only God is sinless and perfect.

7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. Romans 2:7-8 ESV

Paul is telling us that as followers of Christ we must be persistent in seeking God’s glory and God’s kingdom and he tells us what that looks like by describing what a judgmental sinner looks like.

Self-Seeking: Judging others is selfish. God made us and saved us to reflect the love, the mercy, the grace, and the forgiveness he has poured out through Christ who is the perfect embodiment of love, selfless sacrifice, grace, and mercy.

Reject Truth: God has told us what is right and what is wrong. Yet those who are judged by God willfully reject his truth and what is right. By rejecting what is right they reject God. Christians do not judge others for rejecting truth we double down with more selflessness, more mercy, and more forgiveness as an overflow of what God has already given us.  

Follow Evil: It is never enough to reject God and God’s truth. It necessarily follows that by rejecting truth that those condemned by God will choose what is evil. There is no middle ground of neutrality. Following what is evil proves that God’s judgement is justified.

I am not here to judge but I know the Judge. I am not here to condemn but I do plead and witness to anyone who will listen how to meet the Judge’s standards. I am a witness to the good news that Jesus died taking on my shame and my sin to make me right before the Judge. That good news is available to all who would seek his glory.

Romans 1:8 | Faith Recognized

What kind of Christianity do you practice? Freewheeling anything goes or rigid rules driven judgements? Critics of Christianity paint Christians as cold judgmental rule keeping hypocrites and those that want Christianity portrayed in a positive light make Christianity out to be a love anything and everyone unjudgmental religion. Do either of those descriptions define Christianity for you? Reality is always more complicated than the caricature. If Christians should ever be painted in any light it should be as people of faith. People who trust God above all else.

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. Romans 1:8 ESV

Paul in his letter to the Church in Rome tells them that their faith is recognized all over the world. This church these Christians are recognized by their faith. What is the church in American recognized by? I am not one to travel the world so I can’t answer that question. I might guess American Christians are recognized as wealthy. If nothing else is true then Christians in America are generous. I think Christians are recognized for being political, for being worshipful, but would anyone say the Church is known for being faithful?

6 And [Abraham] believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:6 ESV

God recognized Abraham, the father of faith, as faithful. Abraham simply trusted that God. Nothing is simple but the truth here is that Abraham has faith in God. We know that God’s love for Abraham and Abraham’s love for God is based on faith alone because this is hundreds of years before Moses and the Ten Commandments. Abraham had no rules or judgements to follow. He had only his relationship with God.

Many people view the God of Abraham’s time, the Old Testament, as a God of laws, wrath and judgements. Critics claim this God is not worthy of following. Yet Abraham found the God of the Old Testament as a trustworthy and faithful God. Yes, the Ten Commandments were given in the Old Testament and the law has its place speaking to us what is right and what is wrong but all of the Heroes of faith loved God and trusted him because of faith. They did not follow rules to follow rules. They listened to God and responded to him with humility and thankfulness.

Many others point to the God of the New Testament and say this is a God of love that approves of whatever we may want to do. Rules and laws have no meaning because God does not judge. This view of God is not faith. This is ignorance and it is deadly. Faith is a relationship with God the creator. Faith is a desire to follow the law because God promised that doing so, even when hard, would result in life. To obey and submit to Jesus is an act of faith and trust. Here is my prayer I have prayed many times and it is a reflection of what is in my heart. “Father, I want to live my way and according to what I see fit but God I will give up everything to follow you. I trust you even over my own heart. Help me be who you created me to be. Forgive me of my sins. I need you for life here and now but even more I need you for the life that is to come. Thank you, Jesus”.

17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17 ESV

I know the law, but I do not live by the law. I know God therefore I live by faith trusting him with both the small every day issues and the big major events. God is faithful. I pray that I would be known by my faith because that faith comes from God and it is a reflection of him.

Romans 10:8 | Spoken Commitment from the Heart

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This year will be the 19th anniversary that I have been married to my friend, companion, and wife. We have lived some awesome days and some incredibly blessed days together. These last few years have not been as much fun for various reasons but the stress has not separated us. We are still drawn to each other and we are still committed to this life God has given us together. We promised each other that we are committed to this marriage until God separates us in death. Thankfully God has given us much grace and mercy to follow through on that promise up to this day. In a world where opinions change daily, where people will change jobs every few years, and where marriages are fewer with more ending in divorce commitment seems to be tied directly to how we feel at the moment. Mad at your boss? Quit. Spouse not living up to your perfect expectations? Leave. Worse yet no attempt is even made to commit by many. The many commit to nothing dodging all responsibility or requirement to serve anything or anyone other than themselves.

There is one commitment that no one will be able to dodge forever and that is the commitment to Christ. No amount of self service and avoiding a commitment to others is possible in the end. God likes paradoxes. He has a rule that the person who serves others (the person who is last) will be the person most highly exalted (the person who is first). God also likes to set the example so he humbled himself and took on the form of man to serve all of humanity.

8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:8-11 ESV

Because Christ is the name above all others because he committed his very life to the world we should rightly submit to his leadership and authority. We should commit to him and his cause. When I married my wife 19 years ago I did so with the knowledge that this commitment would consume the rest of our lives. It was not a commitment taken lightly.

While I have been married for these 19 years I made a greater commitment even earlier in my life and that was to Christ. I acknowledged him as the King of kings and as the rightful owner of my service and devotion more than 30 years ago. This commitment while not fully understood at that time has grown over the years and the commitment has become even more powerful as I mature and more fully grasp the power and majesty of God.

My hope is that anyone and everyone reading these words would commit to Christ now in the time of grace. Saving grace is at hand already secured. Serve him freely and commit to his plan because he deserves the commitment. Christ will change your life for the better and for eternity.

8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10:8-10 ESV

There is only one way to make this commitment and that is by speaking out loud what is happening in your heart. The body and the spirit will agree with God who will then act to transform your selfishness into a new saved life that cares for others. It is a scary idea to give up your plans but really how is that going anyway? My plans and commitment to myself always ends in a mess of broken relationships.

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13 ESV

Romans 5:10 | Enemies Reconciled

reconcile

Life creates friends and enemies. Movies are made of the most epic friendships and enemies. Stories are told of war and the bond of brothers who fight enemies both physical and psychological. But even normal people like myself find that some relationships become estranged or alienated for minor reasons. Family relationships seem to be the effected for me. Why all the walking around on egg shells and not dealing with the situation because someone was hurt? Most of these hurts start unintentionally. I have done my best to reconcile hurts and slights that I have stumbled into but sometimes that is not enough so the relationship remains estranged and broken. I forgive and I move on with my life ready to restart the relationship if the other parties are ready.

My poor choices and selfish desires have also caused a rift between myself and the Creator. Paul in his letter to the Roman church states that my sins are greater than just a rift.

8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Romans 5:8-10 ESV

My choices and life have made me an “enemy” to God. I have destroyed the relationship and walked away from him. I have crossed the line and joined into a camp if not at war with God then ready to be at war. It is a harsh word to call someone an enemy but that is how God views the situation and my actions toward him and others demonstrate it is justified. The situation is epic and greater than any Hollywood movie could ever depict.

God however does something unexpected. Instead of treating me like an enemy He confronts the situation head on and he harbors no ill will. In fact God’s perfect love is demonstrated in the fact that he dies on a cross for me while we were still enemies and sinners. God covers over the offence. God restores me. Paul uses the word “reconciled” to describe what God has done. God’s love reconciled his enemies and no longer are they called enemies but sons and daughters is the plot line of this epic story.

18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 ESV

God has done all the work. He has opened lines of communication. He has paid the price that justice demands. He has bridged the gulf of separation. If he would do this for us when we were enemies then now that we are reconciled how much more will he do? If you have not come home to Him and rejoined the family as a child of the one true Father then now is your time. One can state it no better than Paul does here “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God”.