Modern Parable ~ The Judge

I was driving down the freeway last year going along with the speed of traffic when a highway patrol officer came up behind me and put on his lights. You know the feeling: instant panic with ensuing heart palpitations. I looked at the odometer, 79, then quickly took my foot of the accelerator. Surely he’s not pulling me over for 79? I’ve been told that anything under 80 they don’t bother with and besides my cousin is a CHP and I have one of those nifty star stickers on my license to show them I am “one of them”, “part of the family” so to speak and my insurance is military insurance. That will be the clincher. They don’t ticket their own.

The officer came up to my window, asked plainly for my license, registration, and proof of insurance. He walked back to his car, came back, and handed me my speeding ticket. No small talk, all business. I was busted. My “get out of jail free cards” did not work. I broke the law, the officer was just. It did not matter that everyone else on the freeway was going 79. It did not matter that normally they don’t pull you over at that speed. It did not matter that I have a sticker or insurance to prove I am one of them. The fact of the matter is I was speeding. The speed limit is 65. I was going 79… Judged and Convicted.

How often do you justify your actions to a holy impartial Judge. How often do you think “I’m on the good guy’s team, He will let it slide this time.” How often do you think “I’m not as bad as that other guy over there. He must judge based on a curve.” There could be nothing further from the truth. Check out this verse in 1 Peter:

And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, (1 Peter 1:17, ESV)

Let’s unpack this verse a bit…

The word epikaleō means to “call on” or to “appeal to” or to “call for help”. It is meant here to suggest that this is a regular occurrence, that we are to habitually call on the Father for help. Peter is assuming his readers are Christians and that they pray regularly. The idea that God is someone we have an intimate relationship with as well as the fact that he is the ultimate judge who always judges fairly and without partiality are all within the same sentence, the readers understand that just because they are part of God’s family does not mean they will get special treatment. This is the true fear of God when one understands this concept to its fullest.

The term “judges” is used in the Greek  “ton krinonta” which is a present participle. This means the judgement Peter is talking about is active and current for their lifetime. He is not talking about final judgement. The Father is actively and presently disciplining his children. That is what this type of fear means.

The Greek word for fear is “phobos” and is where we get the word phobia from. However the phobos of God and his discipline is actually a good thing because its outcome should be a right response to God’s law that will result in growth, sanctification, and blessings.

Peter also reminds his readers that they are exiles, sojourners hear on earth. That means they must continually remember to show foreigners (those of this world) what it means to be a child of God.

Therefor, we are to have an active and intimate relationship with the Father while maintaining a high view of him knowing he is the perfect impartial judge even to us. Because of this we must live our lives in light of fear of his judgement as well as the fact that this world is not our true home and we must be examples to others by bringing honor to our true family name.

Fruit Audit ~ Do You Love God’s Word?

I was going through life as a “Christian” and the one thing that bothered me the most is that other Christians always said they loved reading God’s Word. Pastors would often preach that when you become a Christian you would thirst and hunger after the word of God like a newborn baby thirsts and hungers for his mother’s milk.

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. – 1 Peter 2:2-3, ESV

I don’t know about you, but I just was not getting it. Sure, I read my Bible a couple times a week. Every once in a while I would “commit” to reading the Bible every day. That always lasted about 5 days. I remember the longest I ever consecutively read my Bible was 34 days. You’ve heard it said that to create a habit you have to do something every day for 21 days. I remember vividly thinking “I’ve done it! I’ve created a habit of reading my Bible!” Only to fail on day 35, 36, 37, 38, 39….. Oh shoot, was I supposed to be reading my Bible? WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME!!!! Oh the shame. But really, who else knows other than me, myself and God? On I went stumbling through reading (or not reading) my Bible.

So, there you have it. I was convinced that I was doomed to always be burdened with the chore of reading the Bible. I knew it was supposed to be enjoyable and I knew I was supposed to be refreshed by it, but honestly I just wasn’t. Here are a couple verses in the Bible that told me something was wrong.

For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, – Romans 7:22, ESV

David said it perfectly in Psalm 19 as seen below and I still did not get it.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; – Psalm 19:7-8, ESV

David made it sound so simple and pure and revitalizing and joyful and enlightening… but for me it was sometimes just boring. I could hardly understand the stuff I read and the things I did understand seemed antiquated or impossible to put into practice. But still I tried. I even prayed as Tozer did for God to open my mind to understanding. It worked sometimes but I knew deep down I was missing something. Something no one could answer for me. Perhaps I was just dumb. My college educated brain was too stupid to understand the Word of God.

And lastly I got to John 8. :(

Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” – John 8:47, ESV

There was my answer. Hindsight is 20/20. I did not realize it at the time, nor could I have predicted the outcome. After 25 years, thinking I was saved and struggling terribly through the Word of God, practically beating myself up with my lack of love for God’s Word, I now understand fully that I was not actually converted. You may take issue with this controversial thought. I can tell you, however, with absolute certainty that the very thing I struggled with has become a complete and utter joy in my life. The Word of God, now that I am truly a “new creation” has been opened to me like I never could have imagined. I literally cannot get enough of it.

The best way I can illustrate this idea is from the perspective of being a mom. Before I had a child people would tell me all the time that my life would change in ways I could not even imagine. “Oh the wonder! Oh the joy!” or so they would say. I remember thinking, all these people are nuts! I love my life and no child is going to change it THAT drastically. Sure it would be different, but all these moms who keep blabbing on and on about motherhood were close to making me puke at times. Flash forward to the day I have my baby, then flash forward 5 years into motherhood and I get it. I drank the “juice” and know EXACTLY what they are talking about. If you don’t have kids yet, this won’t make much sense to you, but if you do, this is what it is like when you become a true converted soul, fully and wholly consecrated to the Almighty Father and LORD Jesus Christ. The Word of God is literally life. I cannot get enough of it now.

With all of that said, you may be wondering about your own salvation and may even want to find out on a deeper level if you are truly saved or have just been in love with Jesus, in love with what Christianity offers, in love with the community, but not fully and 100% devoted to Christ. It is OK to test yourself. Paul asks us to do it.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! – 2 Corinthians 13:5, ESV

Don’t get crazy and start freaking out just yet. This is not meant to scare you but it is meant to give you a reality check. I recommend checking out some of the series below as well as heading over to the Fruit Audit section on www.HolyJustLove.com. Be blessed and be confidently assured of your salvation. It is an amazing thing!

Friday Fruit Audit ~ Do You Share Jesus with People?

People really don’t want to hear about Jesus. I don’t want to offend anyone. I’m terrible at going up to people. I believe what I believe and I let others believe what they want to believe. Evangelizing is OK for pastors and people who seem just a little socially off, but I don’t feel called to do it and besides I’m no good at it anyway.

These are just a few of the excuses I hear people use, myself included. Do you realize that if Paul, Peter, James or any of the other disciples felt this way and acted on their feelings, NONE of us would be saved? Jesus did not just ask his first disciples to preach the gospel, he asked everyone who calls himself or herself a believer and follower of Christ. The Holy Spirit helps us but we must be willing to be his ambassador. We are privileged to help God in the calling of his people.

“But I honestly don’t know how to spread the gospel.” This is a valid response however if your child said, “but I don’t know how to read” I bet you would just stop and say, “You know what? I get it. It is just too hard and confusing for you. Don’t worry about it then. You will be fine…” Yeah, right. Like that would happen. Stop acting like a child and do what your Father has asked you to do. Here is a short list that will help you get started.

1. Practice.
You will never get good at anything unless you practice. Person by person. Start today with just one person.

2. Be prepared.
You need to know what you are sharing. Going around saying to people they need God because he will make their lives better and that he loves them is the worst thing you can do. If you understand the costs associated with following Christ, then you are more able to explain it to someone else. A great place to learn how to share the gospel is at www.sharetheumbrella.com.

3. Understand Your Roll
You should not go up to people and say “Do you want to hear about Jesus?” Think about the last time you bought something that was sold to you. Why did you buy it? You did not just wake up and decide “I’m going to buy a new Toyota today.” There would have been some great marketing done by Toyota along with your own forethought and research to back up your purchase. We do business with people we know like and trust. Don’t assume spreading the gospel is any different than selling anything else. I don’t want to cheapen the gospel by any means but I do want you to think about it the next time you try to shove your religion down anyone’s throat. It never works. There will be times when someone will flat out ask you to share, point by point, what the gospel is. However, more often than not, people will be drawn to your “light” because of your love and the way you live your life. Look for opportunities to share a little bit of Jesus in every conversation. Literally try to think, “How can I mention the name of Jesus in this conversation?” You will start getting good at inserting the Word of God in all your conversations.

4. Pray, Pray, and Pray

  • Ask God every morning for “divine appointments” meaning opportunities to share God’s Word.
  • Ask God every morning for “low hanging fruit” meaning people who want to talk about Jesus who may not know him fully yet.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to speak through you.
  • Any time you share the gospel or are building a relationship with someone, pray for them often.
  • When you share the gospel with others pray regularly for them. Pray that the Holy Spirit would do a great work in them and bring them to repentance.

 

Don’t ever forget, Jesus calls us as his ambassadors to “make disciples.”

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” – Matthew 28:19

“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 5:20

Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible. (Eph. 6:24)
Maranatha! (Come, Lord Jesus!)

~ Jen O’Sullivan
www.HolyJustLove.com