Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Issues in the light of Christ ................ Parables 156


Just by reading these headlines, can anyone know if these news stories happened here? Or in Europe? Or Australia? Did they happen this year? Last year? Twenty years ago? Or 1000 years ago?

Today we call equal rights, abortion, teen pregnancy, incest, poverty and union disputes “issues,” but they are hardly “current” affairs.

For example, in first century Ephesus workers responsible for silver statues of an idol named Diana united and staged a riot. Christian teaching was putting a crimp in their sales and they demanded government intervention.

From Cain and Abel to the latest stabbing in Edmonton, murder has always been an issue. From Noah’s day to right now, people think evil thoughts and do evil deeds. From Sodom and Gomorrah to today’s closets, homosexuality is still an issue. All that changes are names and places.

How does a Christian deal with issues? Jump on the bandwagon? Or hide in a hole and pray a lot? Jesus once said something about an issue and His remarks are food for thought and action.

The scene was a home in Bethany. Mary, a woman who had spent many hours learning at the feet of Jesus, broke a container of very expensive ointment and anointed Jesus feet, wiping them with her hair. Judas and the other disciples voiced their indignation. They thought the ointment should have been sold and the money given to the poor. They sounded very pious. But Jesus said, “The poor will always be with you…”

Isn’t it true? In spite of rapid advances in many other areas, poverty hasn’t disappeared. And because the lineups for handouts never end, maybe can we just look the other way? Read on...

Jesus added, “...and you should do good for them when you have the opportunity...”

We can’t look the other way. The identifying characteristic of a Christian is a heart for the helpless — and Jesus set the standard with His own life. He reached out hands of compassion to every person in need, and was concerned with every issue.

But, Jesus wasn’t finished. He said, “The poor will always be with you, and you should do good for them when you have the opportunity, but I will not always be with you...” (Mark 14:6-8)

He went on to explain that Mary was anointing His body for burial. Just weeks before the cross, only one woman understood that Jesus came to die — for her sin and for the sin of the whole world. Of all who followed Him, Mary recognized the true priority. She realized Jesus would soon be unavailable and she put Him first.

Yes, the needy are to be helped. Yes, the downtrodden are to be picked up. Yes, injustice is to be made right. Yes, the issues do need to be addressed. But, Jesus is the main issue. Before any issue is this issue; Jesus said, “I will not always be with you...”

What will we do about Jesus Christ? Do we realize the significance of His death? Do we realize that, unlike all those issues, our lives will not be forever here? Do we understand that our lives will not be forever spent with God either — unless we settle that one issue?

Mary’s priority was Jesus. Maybe she would someday give her wealth to needy people. Maybe she would attach herself to a group that speaks out against all sorts of injustice. But the priority, the root of all the issues, is the need of the human heart to be reconciled to God. He offers forgiveness for sin, peace, freedom from guilt, and the power of the Holy Spirit to begin a new fife. We need His life and His power before we can make real changes in the issues always around us.

One final thought: If putting Jesus first became every person’s priority, on a worldwide scale, if commitment and obedience to Him was the main issue in every life, what would happen to all those other issues?

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