Categories
Pride Religion

Too good for God

“Religion is a crutch for weak people”

I’m sure you have friends that say this kind of thing. They may add: “I don’t need God, I’ve got it together!  I lead a good life.  I’m not a rapist or a murderer or corrupt.”

 The error of this kind of thinking is that it holds a very low view of sin.  This person views very serious sins, like murder, as bad, but their own minor indiscretions, like a white lie or selfishness, as “being human”.  They forget that, according to Jesus, hating your brother in your heart is as offensive to God as murder and lusting in your heart as offensive to God as adultery.   Pride is default position of this person’s heart.  They arrogantly belief they do not need God as they are good enough.  They are like the surfer who believes that Great White Shearks are harmless.  What the surfer may or may not believe does not change the truth.

 The reverse position that others hold, which is also the result of pride, is the view that they are too bad for God.  They say things like: “I’ve done such terrible things to others.  God will never forgive me.  I deserve to suffer in my guilt.”

 The error of this kind of thinking is that it holds a very low view of Jesus’ death.  Jesus was executed outside Jerusalem to, according to the Bible, bear the judgement of God for the sin of God’s people.  Jesus death was a substitutional, sacrificial death that paid the price for ALL sin, every one.  That’s why Jesus could triumphantly exclaim, “It is finished!”  To view your sin as too big, or too bad, or too damaging for God to forgive is extreme arrogance and minimizes the death of the Righteous One for you.

 Are you too good for God?  You are not as good as you think!  You’ll never be good enough for God.

 Are you too bad for God?  Jesus’ death is more powerful than you think!  You can never be too bad for God.

Categories
Gospel of Jesus Mark 2:14 Religion

A lesson from Haji

Haji, a practising Muslim from Zanzibar, came to stay at my place for a month a few years ago.  We had a super time sightseeing, eating, laughing, biting shopping malls (yes , I know its seems unbelievable!)  and enjoying Cape Town. Yet, often times we had to cut our trip short in order for Haji to get back to the house in time to ceremonially wash and recite the prayers.  Haji is a moral, honest, upright man who is seeking to live the best life possible to please Allah.  Haji’s worldview says, “I perform, in order to be accepted”.

 The gospel according to Jesus found in the Bible is totally opposite.  The gospel says, “I’m accepted, therefore I perform”.  We see this truth clearly in Mark 2:14 when Jesus calls a “sinner” to become a disciple.  The account reads:

As he (Jesus) walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.

 Levi was a Jew who worked for the revenue service of the Romans.  We as ostracized hated and excluded.  He was not good, nor religious, nor upright.  Yet Jesus calls him to follow.  Levi followed.  He became known as Matthew and had a profound influence on generations of Christians through the book he authored (The Gospel of Matthew). He was accepted by Jesus, therefore he performed and obeyed and changed. 

 Haji’s religion (and all religion) says “You need to perform to be accepted”.  The Bible tells us to admit we can never perform enough to be accepted by God, but rather to confess our wrongs and sins, and to accept what Jesus has done for us.

 Do you constantly feel guilty that you are never performing quite enough?  Not praying enough? Not witnessing enough? Not working enough? Not preaching enough?  Perhaps you need to remind yourself of the gospel of Jesus.
Categories
Anxiety Luke 12

Do not be anxious

We South Africans are anxious about many things.  I think anti-depressants are one of the most commonly prescribed medications in our country.  We are anxious about the future, our jobs, the crime rate, our retirement, our bank balance, our politics, our relationship or lack or relationships, and the list goes on.

Jesus disciples in Luke 12 also had good reason to be anxious.  The religious system hated their master and opposition was growing. Jesus gave the disciples and us three big reasons as to why we should not be anxious:

1.  God is big

In v4-5 Jesus says: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.  But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell.” IOW Jesus says that you should fear the right thing, God.  Fearing the right thing will prevent you from fearing the wrong things.  Remember that God is big and people are small.

2.  God cares

In v6-7 Jesus says:  “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God…Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Jews needed to buy animals for sacrifice at the temple. The law made a provision for the poorest of the poor to sacrifice birds.  One penny could buy you two sparrows (Matthew 10:29) or two pennies could buy you five sparrows (v6).  The fifth, extra sparrow was thrown in for free; it was “worthless”; it was of no value.  Jesus says that if God cares for that odd sparrow, how much more will he care his people?

 3. God knows

In v29-30 Jesus says: “And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.  For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.”
Those people who are not saved by God and do not follow Jesus are generally obsessed with meeting their perceived needs.  Of course, this is understandable if you consider this world to be all there is.  Jesus says that our lives should not be obsessed with our material needs because, quite simply, God knows.  God is Sovereign.  God cares for his people.  God knows. 

 The command to “not be anxious” is directed to those who are following Jesus, those you are seeking first God’s Kingdom.  What are you anxious about right now?  Don’t be anxious; God is big, he cares, he knows.