Friday, July 18, 2014

Chicken pox didn’t stop celebration ...................... Parables 145

She crawled out of bed, all set to get dressed for kindergarten. Her mom hurried her to the bathroom for the morning rituals. Off came the flannel pj’s and out came a gasp of dismay. “Oh no, look at your tummy!”

Freckles are cute. Chicken pox are not, especially during the Christmas season. But at least one little girl was determined that her spots would not ruin this celebration of Jesus’ birthday.

I admire that kind of determination. It’s not easy keeping one’s focus on Christ during this time of the year. Crowds, hectic schedules and commercialism push Him from adult minds and a portly figure in a red suit steals the spotlight for most children.

However, Christmas isn’t the only Christian celebration that is threatened by scene-stealers. Easter competes with a bunny and chocolate eggs. Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, can be marred by people who partake without considering their spiritual condition ( see I Corinthians 11:27-34). And one more Christian celebration, the love feast, can be ruined by “spots.”

Contemporary “love feasts” are the intimate gatherings: Christians getting together just to celebrate that we belong to the family of God. However, both Peter and Jude wrote strong warnings about some who had come into the church under false pretenses and were ruining these occasions. Both writers called these intruders “spots.” These “spots” are deceivers who pretend to be part of the church but have false motives for including themselves. Unfortunately, it takes more than determination to prevent them from ruining Christian fellowship. In fact, the Bible calls for complete “spot removal.”

Here is how these “spots” can stain others (from 2 Peter and Jude): They consistently walk after the flesh, fulfilling sinful desires rather than obeying and encouraging others to do the same. They despise also government, any form of God-ordained civil, family or church authority. Their attitude shows up in condemning, disrespectful speech with no fear or consideration of the Lord who sovereignty controls all systems of authority (and complaining is contagious).

A “spot” will make “sport” of deception. Seemingly unconcerned that lies are the tool of Satan and the hallmark of his cohorts, these deceivers lie lightly or have fun with lies. They play a dangerous game, often leading new or less knowledgeable believers from the truth. Not only that, these infiltrators will beguile unstable people, using their clever deception to snare the unsuspecting, those plagued with doubts, problems or emotional upheavals.

“Spots” are full of empty rhetoric. They appeal to the evil desires in people, promising them liberty but are themselves in bondage to sin and destined to eternal darkness. Other characteristics are covetousness and having “eyes full of adultery,” practices that are seem harmless to others, but no matter what way these “spots” display it, they have forsaken God’s way. They have gone the way of Balaam, a prophet who was not concerned for the glory of God. Instead, he used his position for personal gain.

After studying this list of “spots,” chicken pox is mild stuff. Six days and lots of calamine lotion will take care of it. However, the spots of sin in individual hearts called for a far more drastic measure. The only One who is “without spot or blemish,” the sinless Son of God, had to die. Because He was willing to go to the limit for us, we ought first to check our own lives for blemishes, then make sure those “spots” don’t spoil the celebration of our fellowship with Him and each other.  

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