God is God, and I am not.

Recently, I looked further into the Israeli & Palestinian conflict. A friend’s post prompted me to do some research into this issue, and it helped me to learn a few things that I didn’t know. For example, I learned there does appear to be a difference between the Nation of Israel (the chosen people of God) and the State of Israel (the nation & government). I could go on, but this post is not really about the all of that.

So, what’s it about?

In reflecting on the Nation of Israel, the Jews, and God’s Chosen People I started asking myself, “Why have the Jews been so heavily afflicted throughout time?” Obviously, there are many biblical references in the Old Testament to point out the relationship between God, and the Jewish people that help us better understand. But, fast forward to more recent times, and look at the Holocaust for example. Also, consider the Jewish State of Israel. Since its inception the surrounding nations & Arab people have sought to attack and destroy it. Look at the people, and groups that hate Israel, and attack it. It makes one really wonder. Why God would allow this continued treatment of them?

My question has more to do with the affliction & suffering of a people that God singled out from the rest of humanity with exceptional favor. And after thinking about it seems that God has responded! I read this passage in Romans.

20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?

Romans 9: 20-22

And I was wrecked! I wept.

In that moment I am humbled. I am reminded of my proper place in relation to God our Creator.

And yes, this is a tough passage! But we need to hear it. We need to be reminded of truth. We need to be reminded of who we are in relation & comparison to God Almighty. There is a tendency today in the American church both physically & corporately is elevate people, and diminish God. No, I don’t recommend that we go back to the hell & damnation preaching days of the past. However, because “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” we need to make sure all of it is read, studied, communicated, and preached.

So, I may not understand these hard truths fully, but I believe God’s character. That helps me trust Him. To obey Him. Jesus demonstrates God’s goodness, and love in ways that my finite mind cannot fully understand. And that is enough to point me in the right direction. We are created by God for the glory of God! We are the creation, and He is the Creator! God is God, and I am not.

 

 

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Was Jesus a Socialist?

In my last post, Was Jesus a Refugee?, I talked about how we live in a world that is confused about God, the Bible, and the person of Jesus Christ. The confusion shows up in many areas, and even finds its way into current culture. Some countries in the world have adopted some form of Socialism with the focal point offering free healthcare along with other government benefits. Again, this post is not about the best solution for affordable healthcare. It is about the person of Jesus, and who He is regarding this issue. Frankly, people are confused when they say, “Jesus was a Socialist.” Whether displayed on a sign, in a hashtag or meme. The person communicating this might be an atheist, spiritual or they might profess to be a Christian. But, the point of their message is simple. To either persuade Christians to be more supportive of socialism or as ammunition to attack Christians for not going along with their ideologies, and agendas. The latter seems to be the more common use.

In many cases, they will use stories from the life of Jesus or various scripture verses to support their claim that Jesus was a Socialist. When you read the gospels, one can easily find many instances where Jesus spent time with outcasts of society, healed the sick, and fed the hungry. He saw needs and met them. There is no doubt about that! However, if you truly believe that Jesus was a socialist then you mostly likely don’t understand socialism and/or you truly do not who Jesus is. So, let’s start with a brief look at socialism.

Socialism is a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community. Synonyms: leftism, welfarism; policy or practice based on the political and economic theory of socialism.

So, we can see immediately that socialism has more to with equity of outcome & control rather than free healthcare or the well being of the people. It is political. It is an ideology that ultimately is rooted in communism. It involves a stronger government, and more dependence on the government by the people. So practically, Jesus does not fit into the definition of a Socialist.

But most importantly, let’s be very clear when it comes to Jesus & politics. While the U.S. has roots in Judaeo-Christian teaching neither Jesus nor the bible is political in any way, shape or form.

God is neither conservative nor is He liberal or anything in between!

Humanity tends to have a finite view of God. Even the Jewish people who waited for the Messiah expected Jesus to come fulfill the role of an Earthly king, and save them from the oppression of the Roman government. Jesus is not just a person, but He is the Incarnate Word. Jesus is fully human & fully God.

So, what about the acts of Jesus healing people & feeding the hungry? In the gospel of Matthew, we read, “Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.” (Matt. 6: 23)

When Jesus begins His earthly ministry, He does not start with an attack on capitalism and call for everyone to get free stuff. He is not walking around just healing & feeding people. He begins with the gospel. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 4:17) He addresses humanities greatest need which is to be reconciled to God the Father. That we are all separated from God by our sin, but God has come near to us. The miracles & acts Jesus displays are not merely acts of compassion, but there also to demonstrate He is who He claimed to be. That He is God, and He is the Messiah. This is shown to us in Matthew 9:

2 And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, “Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 And some of the scribes said to themselves, “This fellow blasphemes.” 4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, “Why are you thinking evil in your heart

s? 5 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, and walk’? 6 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”-then He said to the paralytic, “Get up, pick up your bed and go home.” 7 And he got up and went home. 8 But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

The greater issue for Jesus is not that the man is paralyzed, but the man’s sin. Jesus being divine could see their faith, and their belief that He could heal the paralytic. When Jesus tells the man “your sins are forgiven” it’s a shock to everyone! Why? Because they all know that only God the Father can forgive sins. So, when is questioned Jesus displays His authority to them by declaring the man free from sin, and healed from the paralysis. Mic Drop! It’s important to draw attention to what the crowd does in response to Jesus. Matthew tell us that the crowd responded by being amazed, and giving God glory. This is the proper God honoring response that He deserves from us.

Big one here! So, what about feeding the hungry?

In Matthew 14, we see that Jesus learns about John the Baptist being killed. So, Jesus goes off to a secluded area by Himself, but a large crowd follows Him on foot. Jesus in His humanity is mourning the loss of John but now has a group of about 10,000 people to consider. Scripture says that He “felt compassion for them and healed their sick.” It continues with.

15 When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” 17 They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” 18 And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” 19 Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, 20 and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. 21 There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.

There is important symbolism going on in this passage. Much like the Israelite’s being led by Moses wandering in the desert; the crowd is in a desolate place, and hungry. Moses is not the hero. Jesus displays that He is the new & better Moses. Jesus blesses the loaves, and breaks the them. He then gives them to the disciples who pass them on to the crowds who ate and were satisfied. Later Jesus at the Passover feast will take bread, bless it, break it, and give to the disciples saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22) Thus symbolizing His body being broken on the Cross as payment for our sins, and the true source of life. Jesus did not use this as an opportunity call out the wealthy, and shame them. He also doesn’t place the responsibility of feeding the crowd on the wealthy, or government but directly on His followers. Who by the way only had a small amount of food themselves.

While governments have a role in caring for their citizens the message in the bible is clear. Our ultimate dependence should not be in governments, social assistance or programs. Yes, they have their place but we should seek God & trust in Him first (Matt. 6:33). Second, the primary responsibility of providing care for others falls on people. First for your family (1 Tim. 5:8), next for your local church (Acts 4:32-35), and the finally for others (Luke 10: 25-37, 1 John 3:17, Matt. 34-36). The care described here isn’t just kind deeds, charity, and philanthropy. It’s out of the overflow of Christ in us that results in sacrificial caring & giving through us to others.

Like I said before, Jesus & the Bible should never be used as propaganda to further someone’s political views or purposes especially when they neither know Jesus and/or have a hatred toward God. Like I said before you can’t say the bible is a fairy tale book, and then use it to mock Christians. The miracles found in the Gospels point to Jesus as God in the flesh, and to point to Him as the Messiah. To show all of humanity that we are spiritually bankrupt, and in desperate need of a Savior. That savior is not a leader, political party, ideology, or government. It is Jesus, and that should be the message.