Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The New Martha's

The cry is ringing out all over Christendom. It is time for Christians to get busy. No more sitting around listening to the teachings of the apostles (Acts 2:42), no more growing spiritually fat on sermon after sermon (1 Cor. 1:21), no more exclusionary salvation by faith in Christ alone (Acts 4:12); it’s time for Christians (or perhaps I should more accurately say “Christ followers”) to stop going to church and to start being the church!

The new Martha’s are aggressive in their pursuit of works righteousness, not content to quietly do their good deeds in secret, they insist upon having their rewards now; on letting not only the right hand know what the left is doing, but in declaring that every hand must see and participate or risk being relegated to the scrap heap of irrelevance.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against doing good deeds; as the fruit of the Holy Spirit is produced in our lives through relationship with Christ that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control is going to find expression in all sorts of wonderful ways. Husbands are going to be more loving of their wives, employees are going to be more conscientious as they do their jobs “unto the Lord” rather than from selfish ambition, widows are going to be treated with love and kindness, the sick are going to be visited and yes Martha, dinners will be served to the hungry and homeless. (Read: Jesus and His entourage)

The trouble with the new Martha’s is the same one that existed in Jesus’ day at the home of the original Martha. Not content to joyfully serve the Lord in the capacity they have chosen, like their hard working ancestor they feel compelled to criticize - even to call into question the very salvation - of the Mary’s who know and love the Lord and treasure every moment of rest, sitting and learning at His feet.

Now as then the Martha’s complain to the Lord, - now as then the answer remains the same,

"Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:40-42)

Monday, November 17, 2008

It's All Him!

In the first chapter of Acts Jesus tells His still bewildered followers that they are not to rush right out to work on His behalf; rather they are to gather and wait in Jerusalem until they have received the promised Holy Spirit. It seems they are to be baptized in a manner that has not been experienced until now in the history of humanity and that that this new baptism of fire would in some way result in their empowerment to “be” His witnesses in the whole world. Does this seem a little strange?

The job has been completed, the cross has been endured, redemption has been secured, the redeemer has risen from the dead, and all that is left is for the story to be told; yet even this is not left up to human effort. “Wait until you are empowered”.

The New Testament teaches that through faith in Christ we are reborn and that in this reborn state we actually become the temple of the Holy Spirit. God Himself comes and takes up residence in us. Think about that. Is there anything that you could possibly have done to make yourself worthy of this honour?

While we were still lost in the deep darkness of our sin, Jesus came to seek us out and to save us from the coming wrath of God. Without any acknowledgement or assistance from us He died on the cross and took upon Himself the penalty for our misdeeds and in so doing bought us back or redeemed us from our sorry condition of utter slavery. All that is required of us is faith, is to believe in the sent One, and even the faith for that is given to us by Him.

Why are we so intent on turning Christianity into a religion that requires human effort for validation?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. – Galatians 5:22-25

The Spirit of God lives in us and as we “keep in step” with Him or as we walk with Him the evidence of His presence within naturally becomes apparent; just like the apples on an apple tree, and this empowers us to spread the good news.

Apple trees do not work hard to produce apples; as long as the connection to the source is secure they just naturally appear. The same is true for Christians and the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Ignore the purveyors of works based righteousness and simple enjoy walking with God. This is not an ego-centric religion; Christianity is not about what we do Christianity from beginning to end is about what Jesus does, that’s why He’s known as the Alpha and the Omega.