Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Texting While Driving-Who Does That?

Texting while driving is dangerous for your life, for others lives.  I don't believe I should do this.  I'd tell you not to do this. It is against the law, BTW. Yet, just yesterday I left work and had an important message to relay to someone. Sure, I used my helpful phone voice companion, but as the other party texted back, I read what they had to say. Everything was fine until an emoticon smiled at me and I wanted to smile back.  It was easier to thumb "Lol" then voice the words "laugh out loud" and so there you have it, I confess, I performed an action I don't believe in.

Our Bible study lesson last week from Luke was on Jesus' sharp words of rebuke to the Pharisees for their hypocrisy.  Hypocrisy defined is pretending to be a certain way but acting and believing the total opposite. Illustrations of hypocrites abound.  Ted Haggard, leader of a church of 14,000, preached passionately against homosexuality and then confessed to having a gay relationship. Or Congressman Mark Foley who decried child pornography and fought for laws to prosecute child exploiters, and was found messaging sexual images to underage congressional pages. Rush Limbaugh spoke against drug abusers when he himself was addicted to prescription drugs.

If we are so prone to pretense and putting on fronts, how do we overcome these natural tendencies and live a life of integrity and authenticity? As Jesus speaks woes to the Pharisees and scribes he also explains where they went wrong. What can we learn from Luke 11:37-12:1-11?

The Woes
1.  In demanding obedience to the letter of the law and priding themselves on keeping every last minuscule detail Jesus said they had lost their love for God and justice.

2.They cared more about the tithe you'd pay on that creeper of mint you grow in your garden than about giving gifts to the poor.

3. People were being corrupted by their influence and getting wrong ideas of what God is really like.

4. Not only were they overbearing on others to keep the details, they wouldn't lift a finger to help them and found loopholes to bypass inconveniences  to themselves.
Take this example from Barclay's commentary–One of the forbidden works on the Sabbath was the tying of knots-sailors knots, knots in ropes, etc. But a woman might tie the knot in her girdle.  Therefore if a bucket of water had to be raised from a well a rope couldn’t be knotted to it, but a woman’s girdle could, and it could be raised by that!

5.They loved the limelight and made ostentatious presentations of honor to past prophets, when they wouldn't recognize John the Baptist and Jesus, the greatest of God's messengers who were living among them. 

6. Guardians of the scriptures, they painted God as a judge waiting to condemn offenders, and hid the key to discovering his true nature of love, grace and justice.

Following these denouncements I can see the leaders lash back with sinister snarls, clenched fists and spitting words of hate. Luke says they were "waiting to catch Jesus in something he would say". One commentary points out that the word catch is the same word used for hunting wild animals.

Right after this, thousands press in closer to Jesus and his disciples, trampling on toes and making it hard to walk.  I'm thinking the disciples may be looking over their shoulders while their stomachs are fluttering with fear.  They've just turned their backs to powerful leaders angry-enough-to-kill and now face humanity so thick they can barely stand. I'd be looking for an escape route, quick!

Jesus gathers them closer for his next words.  Don't be hypocrites like the leaders you were always taught to respect. Their deceptive words and actions will all be exposed in the end.  Everything will come out in the open. And friends, don't be afraid of them.  How comforting to be called friends in this moment! They belong here with him. What other place is safer? There may be death ahead, but Jesus reminds them that the only one to fear is God, who holds their eternal destiny in his hands beyond what can happen to their bodies.  He reminds them that if their God cares for each sparrow, worthless to the point of throwing in an extra fifth one when four are paid for, how much more he cares for them. He knows how many hairs are on their head!

Furthermore, Jesus says that if they stand up for him and not disown him, he will show them off before the angels in heaven. You will be brought before accusers, but the Holy Spirit will be your teacher, to help you and to teach you what to say.  Don’t worry!

Can you hear the encouragement in these words?  Jesus isn’t denying the seriousness of the situation and what following him means for them in the future.  But God is big enough to take care of them.  No matter what happens it will end up good!

So how can we guard against hypocrisy?

-Keep generous hearts towards others, hearts that are moved to action by others struggles and hurts
-"Do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God" --Micah 6:8
-Love God with our whole being
-Bear each others burdens in our weaknesses and different levels of maturity, instead of judging and thinking I’m glad I’m better than that! 
-Keep a heart open to correction and repentance, even if it means embarrassment or being humiliated.  Even if God uses a hypocrite to uncover some pretense in us! "Reproofs of instruction are the way of life"-- Prov 6:23b
-Love God’s Word-
"The word of God is living and active, sharper than any double edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit,  joints and marrow and it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."-- Heb 4:12. Let’s handle God’s word carefully and correctly. Our lives are a living letter- are others seeing what God is like by watching us?
-Pray regularly-"Search me, God and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts and see if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting." Ps 139:24

We can be people of integrity, who live authentically and finish well! God has given us everything we need for life and Godliness-his love and friendship,the H.S. to convict us, teach us, give us words to speak, even when wrongly accused, forgiveness when we mess up.  God is able to keep us from falling and to bring us into his eternal presence with fullness of joy.  He cares for us so closely that he knows our hair count, we’re written on the palm of his hand, he collects our tears in a bottle. Serving our God is worth whatever suffering or persecution we may face.  Someday he will smile proudly, embrace us in a hug like none we’ve felt before, while whispering in our ear- "well done", and then turn with a proud smile to the angels and say, "This is my beloved child! Isn’t she something!"


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