I do not have a soul; I am a soul; I have a body. Our essence, what goes on after our physical bodies die, is spirit. Yet we know very little information about the spirit world apart from God’s existence, basic morality, and perhaps the feeling that we survive death. We depend upon God’s light, His word, to reveal about spiritual reality what we need to know. Keep reading, keep learning God’s word.
As always, I’ll only be able to hit things in our reading that I think are highlights; but I hope you’ll be caused to give deeper thought to them. Let’s dive in…
Ashamed of Him and His words? — Luke 9:26
Shame and embarrassment are common human emotions. It’s a social emotion that weighs what others think — and even what we think of ourselves — of our behavior, our appearance, or even our associates. If others think ill of our behavior, appearance, or associates, shame compels us sometimes to blush and sometimes to hide from others’ disapproval. And it can cause us to walk away from something or someone, to disown and distance ourself from it, so others will not think ill of us. Because Jesus knew that He and His teachings were not going to be understood or accepted by a sin-addled world, He also knew that there would be the temptation among us to be ashamed of Him and His teachings. And He warns us that shame of Him and His words cuts both ways — if we are wanting to disown and disassociate ourselves from Jesus in this world, He’ll disown us, too. So, here’s a question: The last time you were “outed” as a Christian at work, in the neighborhood, among unbelieving family, among friends, were you ashamed or honored to own His name? Was He ashamed of you? And here’s an interesting thing, if we’re unashamed of Jesus, we’ll be ashamed of worldly things; if we’re unashamed of worldly things, we’ll be ashamed of Jesus. There’s a certain power in confession of His name in our daily world. It’s not the key to living a perfect life, but it’s a start.
“Sure I’ll follow; when do we eat?” — Luke 9:57-62
Three would-be disciples come up to volunteer to follow Jesus. You’d think that Jesus would simply be happy about His numbers swelling and wave on into the group. But Jesus seemed to have been largely unimpressed with big numbers, and He never even insinuated that discipleship would be easy. Regrettably, we don’t always share His “truth in advertising” principle and we often leave the impression that discipleship is little more than joining a club. But when these disciples say they wanted to follow Jesus, He seems to be telling one of them something like, “Are you sure? I don’t know where I’m sleeping tonight or what I’m eating tomorrow. Can you handle that?” He seems to be telling another one, “The invitation to follow might not be open tomorrow; if you follow Me, there’ll be no temporizing; you must follow Me now.” To a third one He seems to be saying something like, “Following Me must take first priority, over family, business, and whatever else you love.” Knowing the cost up front will occasionally turn potential converts away; the upside is that they will be committed.
A back-door lesson on neighborliness — Luke 10:25-37
The parable of the Good Samaritan is a very familiar one, but I’ve noticed that the major point that Jesus wanted to get across is often overlooked. A neighbor isn’t just someone like us. Jesus proves this by turning the question around from “Who is my neighbor?” (v. 29) to “Who do you want to be a neighbor to you, when you’re in need?” (v. 36). The injured man wanted all of the three of the passers-by to be a neighbor to him, and he didn’t mind at all, when the neighbor turned out to be a Samaritan. The definition of who my neighbor is, when I’m in need, is the same definition as when I’m needed.
Taking away the key of knowledge — Luke 11:52
Obscuring or confusing really important information like God’s word is a serious sin. That’s essentially what false teachers do — and that’s what the lawyers of Jesus’ day had done. Lawyers tend to muddy legal things in our courts so as get their guilty clients acquitted on technicalities or imprecise language, or some other nonsense — that’s bad enough. But it’s infinitely worse, when those who are looked to for spiritual information for the salvation of their souls — teachers, preachers, minister, and even academics — theologize (play lawyer with God’s word) their way through simple commands and principles to acquit their own beliefs, actions, or agendas or those of their patrons. They take away the key of knowledge: not entering in themselves and hindering those who want to enter God’s kingdom.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.