Imagine this. Harry is going about his day, business as usual beating up Christians of which is no big deal to him because, after all, they are the enemy. It only seems like the right thing to do.
No one knows what is going through Harry’s mind. He might be thinking, “Look at me! How wonderful it is to be so zealous for my righteous cause. I bet those who I am trying to impress will think highly of me as I put an end to all this New Way foolishness.” No doubt the visions of grandeur and splendor brings about a satisfyingly smug smile as Harry believes he will be deliciously rewarded. With what? We have no idea!
Galloping upon his four legged buggy (or if we are in the concrete jungle, his black on black Mabach) Harry continues to wallow in delusional fervor. As he proceeds along the way suddenly “there shines round about him a light from heaven.” (1) Harry falls to the ground and hears these words:
“KNOCK IT OFF BUDDY!” (Lady Cheetah Version 2014 New Testament) (2)
Overcome by fear, the only thing Harry can say is, “Who is that?” (3)
The voice replies, “I am Jesus who you are hurting. Going against me is like pounding your head against a brick wall.” (4)
According to Acts chapter nine, no doubt Paul thought he was doing God service because according to his worldview, Christians were enemies of a way that was well over 400 years established and that is how many view those who opposes their long held beliefs: as an enemy and threat to their cause.
There are those who are threatened by Christ for religious reasons. There are those who are threatened by Christ because it is status quo, and then there are those who are threatened by Christ for personal reasons. In the case of Paul we do not know if it was one, a combination of two or all three. What we do know is he was bent on eradicating this new sect.
What I find amazing about Christ’s response to Paul’s murderous ways was his answer “it is hard for thee to kick against the prick.” (5) We as Christians will be offended and confused if we think it is all about us when the truth of the matter is, those who wage war against us are really fighting against Jesus Christ himself. The invincible God will not be outdone. Those how fight against God will get hurt in the process. It is an inevitable fact. How many times have you come across someone who didn’t like you because you are Christian and continued to either harass, tell obscene jokes, or set you up to fail all because you are Christian? And then one day, out of nowhere they fell flat on their faces. Hurt and embarrassed they were forced to leave you alone. Why? Because it was God’s way of telling them to “Knock it off!”
For some it may take one good embarrassment. For others, the harassment almost seems cyclical and you scratch your head and wonder if they are anointed by Satan to cause such havoc for no apparent reason. It is not you per say as it is the Light in you that is causing the discomfort. Because they cannot see Jesus it would be hard to slap him on the cheek. Rather, they see you and set about slapping you on your proverbial cheek (s). Granted, there can only be so much slapping before you come out of your Christian suit and wage an unholy war, so that is why Jesus steps in and puts an end to their foolishness. And when God does that, they know they are defeated but they will not admit it.
Remember, anyone who causes harm to God’s people is hurting God himself. That is why he said “touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm. (6)
1. Acts 9:3
2. Acts 9:4
3. Acts 9:5
4. Acts 9:5a
5. Acts 9:5a
6. Psalm 105:15
From Christian to atheist, I have heard one consistent observation about the church: they are all hypocrites. Although, this is not entirely false, the reflection does have some accuracy; yet, the question still remains for those who make such statements, are they imputing sin upon others or excusing themselves? This inquiring mind wants to know.
Well, as fervent as some might appear to be when stating such things, the truth is the Lord God of heaven never said it wasn’t so. In fact, Jesus pointed out numerous times in the bible that there would be hypocrites, wolves, thieves, and such the like masquerading as righteous folk. For example,
“…woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (1)
“Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers…” (2)
“For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets…” (3)
“But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming and shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken…” (4)
“All that ever came before me (Jesus) are thieves and robbers…” (5)
“Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (6)
In spite of what is known concerning these dastardly characters, why are some offended, discouraged and even dissident in accepting Jesus Christ? I used to believe that it was a matter of either you believe or you don’t, and while this acceptance or rejection of Christ is fundamental at its core, I have come to the conclusion that there is a logic in which one searches for evidence, and when it is not seen, the truth of God is discredited as foolishness and folklore. The scriptures are clear that there are principalities at work blinding the mind of unbelievers, but how do we go about, as Jude puts it, snatching those out of the fire? (7) I believe the answer is as Disciples of Christ, we need to stop trying to impress and prove God’s truth and just live it.
Let us look at the parable of the ten virgins in St. Matthew 25. For those familiar, I will not go into detail but it is worthy to mention that there were two groups: wise and foolish. Interestingly enough, we see the kingdom of God on earth is not perfect yet, but it is on its way to perfection. In the kingdom, both groups had a profession of faith. Both were waiting on the Lord to come. Both had to examine themselves, and both responded to the call of meeting the bridegroom. However, there is one major difference between these two groups: the oil necessary to put in their lamps. Here we see only the wise had light and that is why the foolish virgins asked the wise virgins for oil because they didn’t have any. Woe be unto those foolish virgins because when the Lord God comes, they will discover that it wasn’t a game after all. This is what the unbelievers see. The hypocrites with no oil in their vessels. Professing a truth they do not know or even believe. No wonder the enemy works hard to discredit the wise virgins because they by their actions point to the truth in Christ Jesus.
The very essence of truth is unseen. Knowing that truth in and of itself is spiritual, the logical mind cannot discern or perceive the ways of God; therefore, when he/she seeks proof of God’s existence via logic of fear, anger, science, history, or sociology (8) they will always end up frustrated and disappointed. We do not have the ability to reveal Him, but the Holy Spirit through the work of sanctification in our lives testifies to the eternal ministry of Christ. How genius of Peter to tell us to be holy in all manner of living. (9)
If you find yourself frustrated by the “look at all those hypocrites” response, keep in mind Jesus was talking to the religious leaders and the disciples. In other words, this particular message/warning was to the church. The only message for those outside of the faith is the message of salvation.
1. St. Matthew 23:14
2. St. Matthew 23:33
3. St. Matthew 24:24
4. St. Matthew 24:49
5. St. John 10:8
6. St. Matthew 7:15
7. Jude 1:23
8. Elder & Paul (2007). The Thinker’s Guide to Analytic Thinking. How to Take Thinking Apart and What to Look for When You Do. http://www.criticalthinking.org
9. I Peter 1:15
“And the king (Solomon) said, ‘Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.’ ” I Kings 3:25
Recently I told the Lord I had two problems. He responded that I had one, so I asked him for proof text and here we have Solomon with an example of the wisdom God gave him. Now before I give a synopsis of the story, in order to understand the relevance of this text to my problem, you need to know I had been reminding God about how L-O-N-G I had been banging on the doors of heaven for an answer. As such I thought it needful for him to know that my patience is wearing thin and NOW would be a good time to spill the beans. Didn’t happen. As promised please read the following synopsis (I Kings 3:16-28).
Two baby mommas, who were also ladies of the night, went to court and stood before the judge. The first baby momma said:
“Both of us live in one house and had two babies. I had my baby first and three days later she had hers. NOBODY else was in the house…ok? So, what had happened was this woman killed her child because she was stupid enough to sleep on the baby and what she did was get up, switch the babies and now she actin’ like the dead one is mine and the living baby is hers. So, when I got up to feed my baby, I saw this one was dead and knew it wasn’t mine.”
Baby momma #2 said, “Nu, uh. The dead one is hers and the living one is mine. This trick is cr-cr-crazy.”
The first baby momma said, “You trippin’ tramp. The living baby is mine and you betta step off…”
Alas the judge silenced the two baby mommas and said, “Enough! Bring me a sword and let’s settle this matter once and for all. Baby momma #1 you take one half and Baby momma #2 you take the other half.”
At the sound of the edict baby momma #1 said, “Oh lawd, don’t do it Judge Solomon. Give her the baby. Don’t kill the baby!” Baby momma #2 said, “Psst, neither one of us should have it. Go on and split the baby in two. If I can’t have it, neither can her.”
And at that very point, that is when Judge Solomon said, “Give the child to baby momma #1. She is the real mother.”
In Solomon’s case getting the answer was never about process (order of the court), location (harlot’s house) or circumstantial evidence (the living baby). The issue was the true mother’s identity and how to determine it. When the real mother was willing to give up her baby so it could live, the answer came because it was a matter of life or death, and had Solomon relied solely on their testimonies, felt emotionally sorry for the baby, a wrong decision would have affected the baby in ways we could not predict.
And it is the same with you. The answers you seek are wrapped up in your problems. Waiting patiently upon the Lord is never an easy thing but rest assured the solutions you need are there. They will never come when you want them, rather when you need them.
When I relocated from Connecticut to North Carolina, I was in search of a church to attend and I knew the Lord chose The Park (University Park Baptist Church). There I experienced growth in Christian character that still puts a smile on my face.
Dr. Claude Alexander is a preaching prince. He is articulate, theologically astute, and well versed in the Holy Scriptures. If you are seeking an intellectually spiritual lift, this is the man to listen to.
Bishop TD Jakes is one of the most prolific and controversial preachers in 2014 Christendom and although many of us can debate theological differences we can agree that Christianity is about Christ the God-man not theological schisms in the body of Christ.
I attended this service and I must admit, this is one of my favorite sermons. Enjoy!