Monday, October 29, 2012

That Guy?

It was bloody murder, and they would have no less. They unthinkingly brought their own condemnation upon themselves and their children's children in an effort to haste the death of a Man guilty of nothing but perfection.

I worked out of Matthew 27 last week, and God seems to keep offering me things out of that passage, so we'll continue with these words:
"So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him."
So, let's dig a little deeper here and analyze the situation. The Jewish religious leaders had riled up the crowds of Jerusalem to the point of screaming bloody murder over this Jesus person, with much of the crowd probably composed of people who, a few days before, had laid down their coats on the ground to "worship" said Jesus. Pilate, who becomes Jesus' sentencer, realizes that He's dealing with an innocent Man, and figures that when given a choice, the people of Israel would choose Jesus to be freed, instead of Barabbas.


You mean, the murderer Barabbas? The guy who, if released upon the crowd, could cause a violent uprising which would be starkly contrasted against Jesus' non-violent, spiritual, and beneficial revolution of the soul? Barabbas? The one who could hurt your children? That Barabbas?

Or Jesus? The One whom they could not find a charge against. The One who had done nothing but heal the sick, cast out demons, perform miracles, and forgive people of their sins. Oh, and one other thing - He had proclaimed that He was God. And this, my friends, is what got them steaming. Jesus told them that they were wrong and that they were prideful, religious people who served no purpose but to poison the hearts of the people. That Jesus.

And so, the Jews were more concerned about Jesus destroying their pride, than with Barabbas destroying their people.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we see today. People will go to greatly unreasonable lengths to get away from Jesus just to salvage their pride. Why? Because you can't have Jesus and have pride at the same time. That's what is called a "mutually exclusive relationship." Jesus opposes the idea of pride because everything that we have begins and ends with Him.

And yet, even as believers, we still hold on to our pride. Oh you know, we're cool with Jesus, but in order to make ourselves look like "cool Christians," we have to dress Him up a little, don't we? We have to put some nice clothes on Him, take away His more controversial messages, and give Him a modern edge. All to save face, right?

And look, I'm not against using cultural tools to spread the Gospel. I'm all for it. But you've got to ask yourself two things:

#1: Are you changing the Jesus of the Bible?
#2: Are you trying to make Jesus look better for Him, or for you?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

RMP: The Spirit VS The Kick Drum

This song is pretty deceiving. At first, it sounds like the sketchiest song on the planet. Why?

It starts off with saying, "I don't want the Spirit, I want the kick drum." Then it continues with:
Like sex without love.
Like peace without dove.
Ok, sounds a bit wild. But this guy used to be the lead singer of Caedmon's Call (a very worship-ey band), so I'm pretty sure this song isn't what it seems. There's no lyrics that explicitly say that this isn't the ideal mind-set, but I believe this song is a quiet explanation of what goes on inside a believer's heart. The secret anger. The un-verbalized rebellion. The unsaid aggression. The ultimate desire for pleasure.

It's a shame they don't know the ultimate source of all pleasure.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Great Selah

"A word is worth a thousand pictures."

Go back and read that, because you might have skimmed over it and read it wrong. But it's true, right? Words have the ability to forever sentence us to shame, motivate millions of people, start world wars, bring restoration, and offer comfort - to name a few. Words have the ability to build up and break down. To push someone forward into success or to rip them back into failure. To begin and end.

So, it only makes sense that we put a lot of importance on what people say, right?

We read tabloids to discover the daily dirt. We scrutinize presidential candidates' every word to find error. We read the letters of loved ones over and over. 

But what about silence?

Isn't silence also to be considered? After all, verbiage itself counts much less against the giant of nonverbal communication. Because when I listen to someone, or watch them respond to what I say, I pay attention to how they're telling me what they're saying, not necessarily the words themselves. And, in the realm of nonverbal communication, silence speaks volumes. In a forest of twisted words and incongruent feedback, silence is a quietly stark contrast to a flood of speech.

The Jews called this a "selah." A selah could be understood as something that indicated to the reader that they should pause in their reading and use the silence to think about what was just said - to say, "Stop, and think about that." Kind of like I did right at the beginning of this post.

When we talk about Jesus, we usually discuss what He said. As my boy Matt Chandler says, "Yes, and Amen!" Praise God for His Word and all that He told us. John 1 talks about Jesus as the embodiment of the Word, bringing life to everyone. So I'm not discounting His Word in any way. I praise Him for it.

But what about His silence?

In Matthew 27, Jesus is being interrogated by Pilate, the governor of the region. He is being asked questions that could determine whether or not Jesus is going to be put to death. Jesus' response? "But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed."

Stone cold silence.

Jesus had spent the past three years speaking in abundance and proclaiming His own deity. He spoke clearly and understandably to thousands upon thousands of people. In other words? He had already said what he needed to say. He didn't need to say anything else, because He had said enough to let His words stand on their own. Despite the fact that Jesus was being questioned by the man who had the power (which was given to him by the Man he was questioning) to send Him to death, the Christ had so much confidence in His already-spoken words, that He chose silence.

And if I can reach a little bit further, I'd call this The Great Selah: to say that the God of the Universe was using His moment with Pilate to tell the world, "Stop, and think about that." My encouragement today? Stop, and think about that. Think about the life and teachings of Christ. Think about what His words mean in our world. Use the silence to think upon His glory, love, and grace.


Friday, October 19, 2012

RMP: The Great Dictator

For those of you who don't know who my man Charlie Chaplin is, I'm sorry. He was one of the most influential comedians back when televised media was just coming about. Most of the slapstick humor that you see on television today is some sort of derivative of something that he did years ago. He also had some interesting things to say.

In this speech that he gives, he steps back from the comedy to address the major concerns of his day: mainly the ideas of dictatorship and world conquest that came about as a result of both World Wars. He makes the excellent point that people have the ability to rise above the troubles of this world.

Problem? His speech falls short of relying on the strength of Christ to accomplish these things. Sure, he references a bit of the Bible, but he basically implies that people are ultimately responsible of "pulling themselves up by their bootstraps."

Thank God that He pulls up our bootstraps when the reality is that we have no ability to do so on our own.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

She Did, He Didn't, and Neither Do We

Something happened a few hundred years ago that changed our understanding of the Bible: chapters. Yes sir, the 13th century was a wild and crazy time. The Magna Carta was being pushed. The Chinese were using gunpowder in warfare. And it was also during this age that somebody by the name of Archbishop Stephen Langton thought it was appropriate to start dividing the Bible up in little pieces.

That's fine, I guess. I mean, I'm all for a little organization, but there's a little bit of a problem with chopping up the Bible into bite-size bits. Mainly, the issue is that sometimes we lose a little bit of context. We see a chapter heading and think, "Well, all right, that part about ____ is over, and this new part about ____ is beginning."

Well, for whatever reason, as I was reading Matthew 26, I realized that I almost missed something based solely on the fact that I was just going by section titles. Verses 6-13 are the classic tale of Jesus getting his head anointed with alabaster by a woman while He and His disciples were chillin' out. I have an ESV Bible, and in it, this section is called, "Jesus Anointed at Bethany."

Immediately following this section is another classic piece titled, "Judas to Betray Jesus," in which the most famous traitor in history gets paid 30 pieces of silver to commit Jesus to death.

My idea isn't a complicated one, and maybe I'm reading into this a lot, but I think that these accounts of two different people were placed right next to each other to make light of a stark contrast: she did and he didn't.

"Did what?" you say? She did recognize, even if only in part, Who Jesus was. When the disciples start seeing what the woman is doing with her expensive perfume, they all clamor and start to judge her for a supposedly inappropriate use of her wealth. However, Jesus lays down the proverbial law and defends this woman, claiming that, "you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me."

She gave her best, most expensive gift out of a humble heart because she was beginning to really get who this Man at the table really was.

Immediately after this, we find that the exact opposite happens: Judas sells The Christ out for 30 pieces of silver - the payment that one would give in retribution for a slave that was killed. He sold out the Man he had spent 3 years through thick and thin with for something that wouldn't even cover a house payment! Once again: she did and he didn't.

And neither do we.

Because if we did, we'd understand exactly what it means to sin. We'd understand that each of our screw-ups aren't just mistakes, but slaps in the face to our Maker. We'd understand the weight of sin and what it does to the heart of the One who carried all of it to the Cross. We'd understand how much it hurts our God that we choosingly submit ourselves to slavery, when He was murdered to purchase our freedom.

We'd understand. But we don't.

At least, I know I don't.