To whom do we belong?…

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

I Corinthians 6:12-20

  “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.  Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”  But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.  Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Verse 12 – our freedom is never a reason to hinder another’s walk with the Lord.  If we find ourselves in a place where we are leading, looked up to, discipling, in any way responsible to encourage and edify others in Christ then we are to temper our freedom with the building of the kingdom of God.  Our life is outwardly focused on Christ and others, not inwardly focused on ourselves.  This is what makes us stand out from the rest of mankind; this is a type of caring, concern for one another and love that is not seen in the world of the unbeliever.

To whom do we belong?  With acceptance of the teachings of Christ, with acceptance of the sacrifice of Christ comes a joining to Christ and the beginning of a relationship not unlike the relationship between two in love.  Acceptance of Christ’s teachings means turning from others much like when entering a marriage contract one turns from all others, promising to be true to the one loved.  So now our view of ownership of our own bodies and self changes.  We do not belong to our self; we belong to God.  We do not do as we want; we do as he wants.  We do not live by our flesh; we live by our spirit joined with Him.  This shows up in our actions, speech and thought.  We now would not do anything that brings harm either to another or ourselves.  For now we live in love and caring, one for another.  Blessed be the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The deception of bad times…

Acts 21:26-36

Now when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place; and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” (For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)

And all the city was disturbed; and the people ran together, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple; and immediately the doors were shut. Now as they were seeking to kill him, news came to the commander of the garrison that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. He immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down to them. And when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.  Then the commander came near and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and he asked who he was and what he had done. And some among the multitude cried one thing and some another.

So when he could not ascertain the truth because of the tumult, he commanded him to be taken into the barracks.  When he reached the stairs, he had to be carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob. For the multitude of the people followed after, crying out, “Away with him!”

 The prophecy of the  prophet Agabus is seen being fulfilled.  Even as Paul is complying with the demands  of his people, they turn on him with violence.  Violence begets violence it is said and the one who so violently opposed this new belief system is now the object of that same violence.  He once stood in the shoes of those now attacking him.  In all of this God’s work will continue to be done and the message of Christ’s gift of salvation is still spread to all.  Though it looks bad, it may be intended for good and that is something to keep in mind when we are tempted to complain during our times of stress or pain.  We continue to be found faithful, following the examples of those who have gone before us and God’s will is done.

Submission demonstrates freedom…

Acts 21:17-26

And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present.  When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.  And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law;  but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come. Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow. Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law. But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except  that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.”   Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for each one of them.

 Showing submission to the leadership of the day and time, Paul complies with the request.  The question remains; if Paul was teaching one direction why did he act out its opposite?  If Paul taught we are free to worship in spirit and truth as Jesus said, we are free of the bondage of the law, then why did he comply with the laws?  Jesus said: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself.  All the other elements of the law stem from these two.” (My paraphrase)  We comply out of love for God and one another even if we are free from its bonds.  Paul could either refuse or comply, he chose to comply.  He chose to love and encourage, he chose to defer to the wishes of the others and in doing so demonstrated his total freedom, to do or not to do.

This is love…

John 18:1-11

When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered. And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples. Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?”

They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

Then He asked them again, “Whom are you seeking?”

And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

Jesus answered, “I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way,” that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, “Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none.”

Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.

So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?”

 How well do we know Him?  Jesus gave us his words, but more than that He put action to his words; he demonstrated just how truthful they were.  He gave himself; they came to take him but he denied them that action and gave himself to them.  Facing the opposition head-on, Jesus confronts them and gives himself to them.  He was not taken, he went freely.  He had a ‘cup’ to drink; he willingly accepted it and in that gesture modeled for us the ultimate in love and submission.  He could have done differently; they expected him to resist.  He was capable; they had heard and witnessed his miracles.  What was required was obedience and he was found faithful.  He showed us it could be done.  He connected submission to obedience; obedience to a higher power.  Jesus spoke of love and in his final act revealed the full scope of true love.  His words were: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Another place tells us this: “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren.”  This was the cup he was given, this was the cup he accepted and drank, for us…  Each of us will when faithful and obedient, do the same.  It is packaged differently for each one, but within the acceptance of the love extended to us is an obligation to submission and that is the giving up of self.  When we continue to see the word ‘I’ in our conversation, our discourse with one another, and the ‘I’ far out numbers any other pronoun, we have not given up self as asked.  We still operate within the scope and realm of our own space and world.  This is often even evident when superficially we are working for others.  How dedicated are we?  To the exclusion of our own desires, demands, designs?   ” He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? “

“…do as I have done…”

John 13:1-17

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

And supper being ended,the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”

Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”

Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”

Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”

Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.”

So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

 We are told of only one who objected to Jesus’ washing of their feet.  And from that exchange we learn to submit, completely.  We do not determine what will be done nor the extent of it.  Complete submission to the Lord allows him to set the limits.  Washing of feet in a dry, dirty land where walking was the frequent means of getting from one place to another, was a courtesy extended to all who came into a home, occupants and guests alike.  It was often done by a servant of the household providing a service and care to all.  The focus was outward and Jesus came to do more than wash feet.  He came to give up his life for those he loves.

 He says he is setting an example for us.  We are to carry the same attitude and service of concern, courtesy, and care for one another regardless of our position in any relationship.  The principle of equality, oneness, unity is crucial.  Jesus was and is  Teacher and Lord; he points out that no servant rises above their master and no student rises above their  teacher.  We follow his teachings and his example without an attitude of superiority.  God gives to each according to his will, we are to simply be found faithful to his will.  Self so wants to rise up and be bigger and better, demand more.  This can be seen in the play of young children, but it is still present in adults who compete constantly against each other for superior roles, not with each other to grow.  Jesus demonstrates selflessness.  The one who could claim superiority, didn’t need to, he was.  God gives the glory; we serve.  “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” – Jesus