Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Four Rs for Dealing with Evil

“The wicked spies upon the righteous And seeks to kill him.”(Psalms 37:32)

“But my foes are vigorous, they are mighty, and many are those who hate me wrongfully. Those who render me evil for good accuse me because I follow after good.”(Psalms 38:19–20)

Jesus epitomized righteousness. Though He loved everyone and even said that He did not come to condemn the world, but to save it; He was still hated. That is because evil hates good. The wicked seeks to kill the righteous. Jesus was hated wrongfully simply because He was good. There is evil in this world. That evil will seek to destroy all that is good.

So how should I respond when confronted with evil? How did Jesus respond? “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”(Matthew 5:10–12)

He told me not to resist. ““But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”(Matthew 5:39)

He says to love them. ““But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
(Matthew 5:44–45)

At this time when we focus on the crucifixion and the resurrection, it's good to remember that we don't use power to overcome evil; we follow Jesus who used the ultimate in sacrificial love to overcome evil.

My favorite quote from the recent Hobbit movie was when Gandalf explains why he invited Bilbo on a dangerous adventure. "“Saruman believes that it is only great power that can hold evil in check. That is not what I have found. I have found that it is the small things, every day deeds from ordinary folk, that keeps the darkness at bay." “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”(Romans 12:21)

Evil will not be defeated through our political systems, our criminal justice systems, our educational system or any other system. Evil has already been defeated and we enter into that victory by following Him who won it by doing good.

So here are four Rs of dealing with evil:
1. Rejoice
2. Resist not
3. Respond in love
4. Repay with good

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dorothy, Oz, and the Relational Cycle

I'm reading through the Old Testament, looking at all the scriptures say about Jesus and asking Him to do with me what He did with the disciples on the road: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”(Luke 24:27)

Today I read in Leviticus and these two verses caught my eye:

““If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.”
(Leviticus 26:3–4)

“I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you.”
(Leviticus 26:11)

They reminded me of Jesus teachings in John 14:

“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”” (John 14:21)

“Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23)

When I read something in the Old Testament law that leads me to a teaching of Jesus, I feel like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz when she opens the door from her black and white world and steps into the full color world that is Oz. Jesus brings the full color.

Jesus makes good on God's promise to those who obey - and He does so in an amazing way. He does so, not in a master/servant relationship, but in love. In Leviticus, God the Father promised the Israelites that if they obeyed Him, He would live among them and not abhor them. Jesus said that the person who loves Him will obey Him. Jesus promised that He would love the person who walks in obedience to His commandments and would manifest Himself to that person. He renews the Levitical promise that God (The Father & Jesus) would come to the obedient follower and make their home with that person.
Jesus renewed and fulfilled the Levitical promise in living color.

Obedience as important now as it ever was, but I'm not called upon to obey a set of rules, but a person. As I learn of Christ, I fall more deeply in love with Him (and He loves me right back!). My love for Christ causes me to obey Him. As I do, He reveals Himself to me in even greater ways which causes me to love Him more and more readily obey Him. He loves me and shows Himself to me and before I know it, I'm caught up in the relational cycle of spiritual transformation.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Knowing, loving, obeying, becoming like -- Jesus. That's the relational cycle, and it's in living color. Step through that door into the full color world of Jesus and His Kingdom. It will change your life.