I confess that I love to read revenge books. I especially like the author Lee Child. Child’s novels are all about an ex-military police major, Jack Reacher. Reacher, as he is known, is a no-nonsense guy, a man’s man who goes about getting justice his own way. You don’t want Reacher to be chasing after you because Jack Reacher definitely does not love his enemies, nor does he do good to those who hate him. The Reacher series includes the books: Bad luck and Trouble; Make Me; Personal; Killing Floor; and Die Trying. I’m sure you get the picture.
In the world’s eyes, Reacher is a hero and a winner. But not so much in God’s eyes.
In Luke 6:27-36, Jesus tells us to be the exact opposite of Jack Reacher: to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us. This passage is of the most challenging of the teachings of Jesus.
Joaquín Guzmán ( Nickname “El Chapo”, which means shorty) is a Mexican drug lord and been in the news lately. Forbes magazine called him the “biggest drug lord of all time. El Chapo was arrested in 2014, but he escaped from prison again in 2015 by exiting through a tunnel dug to below his cell. He was then recaptured by Mexican marines in 2016 after granting interviews to people like Sean Penn – because he wanted a movie made of his life. El Chapo escaped his prison cell, but due to his own foolishness and pride, ended up back in bondage.
The same may happen to us as Christians. We are freed from sin’s penalty, power and prison; and as free people we are told not to return to sin’s bondage.
We all want to hallow our own names. To hallow means to set apart, to magnify, to honour. The hallowing of our own names is an age-old problem that goes back to the beginning of history. Adam and Eve wanted to be their own arbitrators or right and wrong. Our forefathers sought to build the Tower of Babel to make a name for themselves rather than for God. Humans are fundamentally narcissistic.
Often in the midst of financial slowdown we realise where our true confidence ought to be. We can spend our entire lives accumulating wealth and providing simply for our physical needs, and then realise we cannot take it with us to the world to come.
Tutankhamen was an Egyptian Pharaoh who lived about 1300 BC. He thought he could take his wealth with him when he died. He had his tomb filled treasure to enjoy in the Afterlife. When Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamen tomb in 1922, the treasures where still there – worth hundreds of millions of rands. Tutankhamen was gone, but the treasure was still there.
We may spend our entire lives accumulating wealth and the abundance of possessions, but we can’t take it with us. We need the right perspective.
When I was a teenager (many, many years ago), I was often told in our youth group how important and essential a regular “Quiet Time” was. A QT was a time when you were quiet, by yourself and with a Bible. You read the Bible, you thought about what you read and then you prayed. You did that often. It was a Christian habit, whether you felt like it or not. Our youth leader often asked us, “How’s your QT going?”
Very seldom today do I hear the same note of urgency, value and importance of regular devotion times.
One of the characteristics of the Word of Faith Movement is that it emphasizes physical healing.
According to them Jesus’ atonement not only secured our spiritual healing, but our physical healing too. Christians should simply claim God’s promises by faith and the sick will be made well and the ill restored. Sickness and disease are enemies from Satan and God wants his people to be healthy and prosperous.
If, as a Christian, you are not healed it is because you do not have enough faith or because you have unrepentant sin in your life.
Many Christians as a result have left Word of Faith churches disillusioned and damaged.
No-one ever marries intending to get divorced, but divorce is a reality – even in the church. Divorce can be for biblically permitted reasons or non-biblical reasons. In my experience we are tempted to make two common mistakes in the church when dealing with divorce:
At church we often hear sermons about how to be a godly wife or husband, but not about how to be a godly single person. Many times we seem to esteem marriage only and unconsciously think that if you are not married you must have some issues, hate men or be gay. Churches frequently advertise themselves as family churches – but what if you have no family? Often in churches single people feel left out or neglected. We forget that there were lots of single people in the Bible, with the most famous being Jesus. Singleness is not treated as strange in the bible and it is even in some cases preferred, like in 1 Corinthians 7.