Rightly Related

Good morning. It is Friday, October 17, 2014.

Today is Wear Something Gaudy Day. So go ahead. Mix those plaids and stripes today!

Christi has a doctor’s appointment after work today. We’re hoping they can figure out what’s going on with the dizziness and headaches. Her head isn’t quite as bad today, but she says it feels “fuzzy.”

“The Giants win the pennant!” Sorry, Joe Buck, it just didn’t have the same ring to it as it did in 1951. Nevertheless, we will have an all wild card World Series (which has happened at least once before, in 2002) between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants. My money (if I were betting) is on the Royals. I believe they are hungrier, since it has been 29 years since their last playoff appearance.

This is Friday, but I have to work tomorrow, as it is my turn on the Saturday rotation. Bleah. There probably won’t be a blog in the morning, as I’m supposed to be at work by 7:00 on Saturday. We’ll see. I may not get up until 6:00.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Psalm 34:8
Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
Psalm 71:3
But I, O LORD, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Psalm 88:13
The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you?
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90:10-12

Today’s Gospel Reading

“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 10:26-33

This is not an easy passage, and it has been misinterpreted in a number of ways. I once heard a preacher say, from the pulpit, that “him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” was Satan! NO! Jesus is talking about the Father in that verse! The point of the passage, is that God is the only one we have to fear. We are not to fear humans. This is right on the heels of the passage concerning persecution, and it begins with the word, “So.” Even though Christians will experience persecution, we are not to fear. After all, what is the worst thing they can do to us? Send us “home,” right? Oh, sure, there might be a lot of pain in between, and I can say without any hesitation that I would rather be shot in the head than tortured for days. I hate pain. But we are not to fear. Jesus assures us that the Father even notices when a sparrow falls to the ground, and that we are “of more value than many sparrows.” Now, those last two verses? Modern evangelicals have decided that the “invitation” at the end of every church service is the way to enforce that verse. I have actually heard that as the explanation for it. “People have to acknowledge Jesus before men, so the only way we can do that is to have them walk down the aisle of a crowded church to be saved.” But here’s a puzzle. Peter denied Christ before men. Three times. Yet we saw him restored. The point is, Jesus will own those of us who own him, through all the darkest of times. The context of these verses is persecution, not the “act of being saved.” This isn’t even a passage about “witnessing,” or sharing Christ with the lost. This is a passage about being strong through persecution and never renouncing the name of Jesus, no matter what comes our way. I wonder how many of us are truly prepared for that.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Loving Our Enemies.”

“The incontrovertible sign of the Christian who has experienced forgiveness is that he can love his enemies.” There is no better sign of the activity of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life. “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” (Luke 6:35)

“Jesus Christ crucified is not merely a heroic example to the church; he is the power of God, a living force transforming our lives through his Word, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’ (Luke 23:34).”

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis says, “What he cares about is that we should be creatures of a certain kind of quality–the kind of creatures He intended us to be–creatures related to Himself in a certain way. I do not add ‘and related to one another in a certain way,’ because that is included: if you are right with Him you will inevitable be right with all your fellow-creatures, just as if all the spokes of a wheel are fitted rightly into the hub and the rim they are bound to be in the right positions to one another.”

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:6-8

Father, help me to love my “enemies.” I don’t think I have anyone in my life who wants to kill me or even be my undoing. But there are people with whom I struggle to get along, especially at work. Help me to love these people and do good to them. I pray that I will never deny you before men, either by action or by word. I have never experienced real persecution. I do not believe that there are very many Christians in our country who have. I pray that, should true persecution come, your Spirit will give me the faith to stand up for Jesus, even if they take my life. For my Father in heaven is able to protect my soul, and that is what is most important. In the meantime, I pray that you would help me to love you with all my being, love my neighbor as myself, and love the church as Christ has loved me.

I pray for this day. May our travel to work be smooth and safe, as well as the drive home. I pray for Christi’s doctor appointment this afternoon, that something good may come from it. I pray, more so, that your healing hand would be on her and that the dizziness and headache would go away. I pray for Stephanie, that you would wrap your loving arms around her and give her peace, wisdom, and understanding.

May we be rightly related to one another, as we are rightly related to our Father in heaven.

Grace and peace, friends.

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