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.

Luke 4:28 | White Hot Wrath

Facts are bright, hot, and painful. Facts can also shape us into who God wants us to be if we will listen. When I was younger, I thought everyone would respond to facts, logic, and reason and I foolishly engaged with anyone to discuss truth. It did not go well. I made more than a few people mad, but that was never my intent or desire. The real world has proven to me over and over that facts are not all that useful when dealing with a group of people. A twitter mob moving from timeline to timeline to roast and skewer others is devoid of reason or facts. Watching cancel culture rage on without facts or reason is terrifying. And I think I know why. Facts are unfeeling and they can be wielded in ways that cut deep. Facts, truth, and reason are inconvenient when social standing and peer perspective is more important. One on one someone might admit that a certain fact is true but in public that same someone will move along with the culture in lockstep to their own doom.

Before Jesus had even called a single disciple at the beginning of his ministry, he spoke a factual truth to the people of his hometown and the reaction of those he had grown up with was that of a full-blown mob and all the scary evil that comes with mob behavior.

28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. Luke 4:28 ESV

Wrath here is the kind that boils up and then quickly subsides. It is unreasoned like the kind of a husband and wife toward the end of a marriage where they can set one another off at every unseen slight. The words of Jesus to those in attendance sparked a wildfire of dry pinestraw that is quickly consumed because there is no real substance. This wrath was so white hot that here we are in just Chapter 4 of Luke’s gospel and already the people are ready to kill him.

29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away. Luke 4:29-30 ESV

Many falsely believe that Jesus was all full of love and only love. I can do anything I want because Jesus loves me reason some. However, that is just not the case and does not hold up to facts. Jesus spoke inconvenient facts to this community of devout Hebrews right where their pride would be wounded most. Their reaction to the facts betrays the evil in their hearts. What was it that Jesus said to them? He spoke to them about all those that God healed and saved who were not Hebrew. Jesus dared to give a complement to the godless gentiles. Interestingly Luke, a gentile, wrote of a similar message from John the Baptist in the Chapter right before this one.

8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 9 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Luke 3:8-9 ESV

Jesus wants the people to understand that God is in the business of saving all of humanity not just a single culture or a single people. Racism has not part in God’s kingdom. God is in the business of saving those who would humble themselves and follow him.

28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” Acts 28:28 ESV

Dear reader what facts have you pushed way? Is running with the mob really that satisfying? Come let us reason and discuss true truth. Put away the personal truth that is not really true and does not align with God’s creation. Jesus came to speak facts about himself, about God, and about relationship with neighbors. Jesus has proclaimed salvation from sin and that people all over the world will listen. I pray that you will be one of those to hear him speak and respond with repentance.

Exodus 12:11 | Door to Mercy

One of the most fearful, memorable, and horrifying judgments on this present earth by God is found in the final plague against Egypt when Moses at the direction of God demanded that Egypt let the Hebrew people leave to worship God. The King of Egypt was stuck in this awful cycle of rebellion, stubbornness, and arrogance against God due to his own selfish and evil nature. In this final plague Pharaoh comes to the end of himself and he finds God’s crushing judgement on his entire worldview.

6 There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again. Exodus 11:6 ESV  

God’s wrath is not looked upon kindly by modern man and many Christians willfully overlook God’s judgment to think and speak only on God’s love. But God’s love is not true unless God’s judgment is also sound. God’s judgment on Egypt is juxtaposed against his mercy for Israel here at this moment in history as recorded in Exodus 11 and 12.

God’s Judgement:

12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. Exodus 12:12 ESV

In this final plague where the firstborn in every household dies in one terrifying night God communicates clearly that this death is a result of his judgement on Egypt. They are being judged as we all will be judged based on the life lived in service to self or stuff apart from God who created us. Egypt put their trust in false god’s that promote selfishness and hedonism. Egypt killed the first born of the Hebrew people out of selfish desire to remain in control. Egypt the same Egypt that is keeping as slaves the people of Israel deserved this judgment. It not my judgement or the judgment of the Hebrews or modern man’s judgment but it is the perfect righteous judgement of God who is the creator of all things.

God is also allowing this judgment on Egypt to be an example to the Hebrews and indeed the rest of history since we are still to this day discussing this terrible event and why it happened. God has chosen this moment with Egypt and Israel to reintroduce himself in a permanent way. God is taking control of the narrative and altering the course of human history. From this moment forward people will know God the one true God. No longer will people be ignorant of their Creator.

God’s Love:

11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover. Exodus 12:11 ESV

God’s love is found in His mercy. The Hebrews could have been left to the same fate as the Egyptians. But God provided an undeserved way of grace. If the people would follow his instructions and listen to His voice, they could find Passover from the judgment to come.

God instructed them to sacrifice a lamb for each household. The blood of this lamb placed on the doorframe of the house would allow the angel to Passover them in the moment of judgment. Yet there was more to God’s instructions that speaks to us today. There is a realization that this meal must be eaten in haste with nothing left for tomorrow because God is leading those that will submit to his word out of the world and they should be ready to go as one just passing through. Don’t put down the kind of roots that fools us into believing that this is our one best life. But stand with cloak on and staff in hand ready for the life with God that awaits. The Passover meal represents how they should live as one covered by the blood of the lamb.

My Response:

…For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed… 1 Corinthians 5:7 ESV

All that happened as recorded in Exodus is but a sample of the perfect justice and perfect love that God is working out to a final conclusion. Judgement is coming on those who willfully live lives in service to their own selfish desires. Our sin will be judged by God just as Egypt was judged. All are guilty of sin before God. I am not here to judge others because I stand condemned as well. Yet because God is also perfect in His love, He provided a perfect Passover lamb in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The blood of this lamb is available but it will only cover households that want to receive and trust God. The Hebrews received the instruction of Moses and were saved. The Egyptians rejected those instructions to trust in their own ways and were condemned by their own actions.

My response to God’s instruction is to yield to Jesus and partake in the grace and mercy God poured out in his Son. I am covered by the blood of the lamb and judgement will Passover me not because of my worth but because of my faith in God’s worth.