"Today's Devotion" For April 16, 2007
Read: Matthew 22:23-33; Psalm 119:89-112
TAKING GOD AT HIS WORD
"You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God." (Matthew 22:29)
There's nothing I appreciate more than a good, open, honest debate. Argumentation can be a positive, useful tool for developing understanding of others. If done in a respectful, intelligent manner debate can be an agent for positive, meaningful, and lasting change. True debate revolves around each person debating being respectful of the position of the other and sharing opposing points of view. The end result of debate doesn't have to be agreement, but it should never be anger or hatred. Being argumentative isn't the same as giving an argument.
Unfortunately, that's often not the case with debates in these times. This is especially true of debates concerning the subject o race, politics, and religion, as such debates often become personal and filled with negativism and combativeness, even hatred. When it comes to these topics, people are often so deeply entrenched in their opinions that they're not too likely to listen to other opinions or honestly and openly entertain information that may shed a different light upon their strongly held beliefs.
I've found that this is often true when speaking to people about the difference between having faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior from Sin as a Christian and following what might best be described as the Christian religion which requires obedience to God in order to get to heaven. There are so many people who call themselves theologians and seek to discredit God's Word, challenging its efficacy and God's plan of salvation - redeeming the world from the power of Sin, Death, and Satan through the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. Of course such disagreement, skepticism, and unbelief is also a result of many people believing that there's no heaven or hell, and thus no life after death. Often attacks on God's Word are a result of sinful people realizing that God's Word and will doesn't agree with their personal desires.
That was the argument of the Sadducees, a religious-political party of Israel in Jesus’ day, who didn't believe in the Resurrection. As far as they were concerned - and it could be argued they were very much in at least one part of the Epicurean camp - they, too, saw nothingness at the end of live. Jesus knew their hearts and their intent and sought to help them understand that resurrection and eternal life were God's gifts to humanity and that human beings were made to be in relationship with God for eternity. Jesus' own suffering and death would mean nothing without His Resurrection, because in His Resurrection, the Father lets us know that He has accepted Jesus' sacrifice for the sins of the world once and for all times.
Just as Jesus didn't argue with the Sadducees, so also do we forsake arguing about faith with others. Instead we seek to share God's love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness in Christ by how we live. Respecting others, we live as God's people, caring for everyone, loving even the unlovable, and helping people to understand that faith is God's gift to all who believe and nothing something He or we will try to force on anyone. We seek, by the power of the Word and Spirit, as baptized, redeemed, and forgiven children of our heavenly Father, to love others as Christ loves us and gave Himself up as a ransom for many. Filled with God's grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness, living in His peace and joy, we take God at His Word and gladly and willingly seek to help others take Him at His Word also.
Prayer: Father, thank You for giving me Your Word of Truth that I may know Your more completely and appreciate all You have done for me in Jesus Christ. Forgive me for those times that I argue with others about how wrong they are in their beliefs, instead of taking the time to listen to them, understand them, and show them respect so that I may also share Your love with them as I share Jesus with them. Help me to be patient in my life of faith as it touches those who don't know Your love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness in Christ. Give me the strength of faith and spirit to live a life that openly takes You at Your Word - practicing what I believe so that my actions may speak louder than my words. Equip me, by Your Word, to be an effective ambassador for Christ, always prepared to focus the issue on Your truth and love for all to hear and see. Hear my prayer, Father, for Jesus' sake. Amen.
Copyright © 2007 by Rev. Richard J. Boeck, Jr. All rights reserved.