Tag Archives: Repent

Come, Follow Me

 

Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Psalm 62: 6-14
1 Corinthians 7: 29-31
Mark 1:14-20

 

In Mark, Jesus begins his ministry with these words: The time has come at last—the kingdom of God has arrived. You must change your hearts and minds and believe the good newsPhillips Then Mark had Jesus calling his Twelve. Notice also that Jesus’ first words came after the imprisonment of his cousin John.

Jesus made sure that John completed his mission before he began his own. Some people, then and now, point out that Jesus was somewhat callous regarding John’s fate. He is not on record as speaking to Herod on John’s behalf, or of speaking about John at all. For Jesus, John was finished, and he had his own work to do. We have no way of knowing the sorrow Jesus felt, but we do know the joy he felt about the Gospel.

The kingdom of God has arrived.

You may notice that many translations read like this: repent and believe in the gospelESV I chose to use Phillips translation because the Greek word metanoeo means to change your whole way of thinking.

The Kingdom. What is it? God’s Kingdom. Rule by God. It is the Kingdom that the whole history of Israel points toward. God intended for Israel to be a Theocracy, but it did not work out so well. Looking back, we can now see that God was preparing the way for His son to institute Theocracy.

Between Moses and King Saul, God’s Chosen Ones learned the basics of rule by God. But it was not until the Messiah walked on earth as a human that we could see how it was supposed to work.

The kingdom of God has come nearNIV Phillips had the kingdom arriving, but nearness is the better meaning of the message. The Kingdom of God has not taken over the earth, but it is sprinkled around. Like yeast, it is infecting the earth. Like salt, it is seasoning the earth.

We get a sense of what the complete Kingdom will be as we watch followers of the Messiah spread his love throughout a hate-filled world.

Come, follow me.

 

Read my earlier comments on this theme here.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Selfish or Selfless?

Ezekiel 18:1-4,25-32
Psalm 25:1-8
Philippians 2:1-13
Matthew 21:23-32

 

Appearing in the September 12, 2017, issue of Fast Company, an online magazine, was an article called Brené Brown: America’s Crisis of Disconnection Runs Deeper Than Politics. The article is based on Brown’s book: Braving the Wilderness.

The general concept of the article is that Americans have moved in the past seventy years into increasingly uniform neighborhoods where we all think alike on most issues. But, surprisingly, this has caused us to become lonelier than when we lived with people of differing religions, politics, languages, morals, etc.

He goes on to write:  if we’ve hunkered down, ideologically and geographically, with those we perceive to be just like us, doesn’t that mean we’ve surrounded ourselves with friends and people with whom we feel deeply connected? Shouldn’t “you’re either with us or against us” have led to closer ties among the like-minded?

In fact, the opposite is happening. At the same time that cultural and political sorting is on the rise, so is loneliness.

For Christians, our goal is to hang out with people who believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. All others should move down the road.

Reading today’s scripture in Ezekiel seems to support that attitude. The one who sins will be the one who diesNIV

But Jesus said, The tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of youNIV Why? Because they were like the first son who said no to his father, but later did what was asked of him.

Christians are children of God, but so are the worst sinners, including those who don’t believe in God. Does God want us to live separated from sinners? Or does he want we sinners who have repented to live with those sinners who need repentance?

As Paul put it: Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the othersNIV

In the early Third Century, Marius Victorinus wrote: We are truly acting for ourselves if we also have a concern for others and strive to be of benefit to them. For since we are all one body, we look out for ourselves when we look out for othersACCS

Too often we Christians assume that means we only watch out for our fellow Christians, forgetting that we too are sinners.

Read my comments on these NT readings here.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence