Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pat Robertson and Haiti

I have recently read much about statements credited to Pat Robertson's beliefs about Haiti. Unfortunately, most of what I have read misquotes and is an exaggeration of what he actually said. If one would like to hear what he actually said there are plenty of Youtube post to hear for yourself. Additionally one could go to his own web site to see what he said. http://www.patrobertson.com/pressreleases/haiti.asp Additionally at his site you will see how his ministry has helped the country of Haiti before and after this horrible catastrophe. My point here is not to defend Pat Robertson. I Actually know little about his show. I don't watch it. I do want to point out that we live in a megaphone world. We are quick to point out what we perceive to be wrong with others. We often do so without listening to each other. I read one blog that deplored what was deemed as Robertson's judgmental attitude. This same writer later wrote, "Go to Hell, Pat Robertson ." Can someone define irony for me?
Let me make clear that there are things that I differ with Pat Robertson, but assigning Hell is not our job. In fact, that is the ultimate judgment. It is the job of God alone.
This does leave us with the question that was raised by all of the attention to Mr Robertson. Did the people of Haiti deserve this tragedy?
I would like to turn to Jesus to answer these questions. Recorded in Luke's Gospel is an event when Jesus spoke to some people about some other horrific events.

Luke 13:1-5 Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. (2) And Jesus said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? (3) "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. (4) "Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? (5) "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."

In the instance above, Jesus makes it clear that we should not think others are any worse sinners than we are because of some tragedy that has taken place. In fact, Jesus levels the playing field. He speaks of a universal brokenness. Just like Pat Robertson and every other person in this world, you and I were born into a world that is broken. The world is not as it should be. I fall short of who I have been called to be. I am thankful that Christ came to heal and save a broken world and a broken people. The Christmas story tells us this.
Matthew 1:21 "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."
Did the people of Haiti suffer because they are worse sinners than others? I believe Jesus would say no. At the same time Jesus would invite us to move away from the I am OK your OK idea of the world. We are all broken people in continuous need of God's healing. God has called us into a relationship with Him today. What will your response be God?
What then should our response be to the people of Haiti? It should be the same as Jesus. He saw our need for a Savior, and he met that need. Do we see the need?

Matthew 9:36-38 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (37) Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. (38) Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Baptism and Dying and Rising With Christ

Romans 6:1-6
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.

Paul begins this chapter with an absurd question. Shall we continue to sin . . .? He has just spent the previous five chapters presenting a righteousness that is apart from the law (Rom 3:21). The answer Paul gives here addresses a couple of things. One is how do we get people to live right if it is not by carefully following of the law? Two: If grace increases through sin, why not sin more?

Romans 6 & 7 clearly point to sin's rule and reign over the living. Christ died to and for our sins. Sin was defeated on the cross of Calvary. Our identification with Christ through faith makes us co-crucified with Him (Gal 2:2). What Christ did for us on the cross is something the law could never do.

In Chapter 6 Baptism is used to illustrate what has taken place in our lives. The word baptize literally means to dip, plunge, or immerse. A Messianic translation of this passage reads this way:

Romans 6:3-4 Or do you not know that all of us who have been immersed into Messiah Yeshua were immersed into His death? (4) Therefore, we were buried with Him through immersion into death, in order that Messiah was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so too we might walk in renewal of life.

I like the word "immersed". It reminds me that I am completely surrounded by Christ Jesus. I have left one way of living and I am completely submerged into a new way. Jesus, said "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me". The old is now dead to me and I dead to it. As Christ rose from the dead, we too rise to newness of life.

What does it mean to be immersed in Christ?
Think of people at a lake. Some people sit at the shore and put their feet in the water. Others stay far from the water. There are others who like to float around on some floatation device. They are sort of half in half out. There are others enjoy diving deeply into the waters.
Which of these best describe your relationship with Christ? All of these are great options when enjoying the lake. But, when Christ calls us into a relationship, the invitation is to be immersed in Him.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Why did Jesus let John Baptize Him?

Matthew 3:13-17 Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. (14) But John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?" (15) But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he permitted Him. (16) After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, (17) and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."

Why did Jesus let John Baptize Him?
John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. Jesus had no sin that He needed to repent of. John recognized Jesus' holiness. "I am not fit to remove His sandals". John actually tried to prevent Jesus from being baptized. If He is not a sinner then what is the point?

It seems that answer to these questions are found both in the immediate context and in the light of Jesus' overall missional purpose.
In the context we have religious leaders who are sinners but either refuse or are denied baptism because of the unwillingness to humble themselves and allow God to bring forth real fruit in their lives (Matthew 3:7-9). Jesus would later confront these leaders about John's baptism. Matt 21:25-26. "'The baptism of John was from what source, from heaven or from men'? And they began reasoning among themselves, saying, 'If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say to us, 'Then why did you not believe him?' (26) 'But if we say, 'From men,' we fear the people; for they all regard John as a prophet."
Instead of humbly admitting what they were (sinners), these leaders put themselves above other people. They missed the point of true spiritual leadership and they could not lead because in all actuality they feared men more than God.
In contrast, Jesus who was not a sinner identifies Himself with sinners. He doesn't fear people, He loves them. His motivation is to "fulfill all righteousness" (please the father).
overall missional purpose
Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. Jesus set us free by His death on the cross. Jesus baptism is a metaphorical picture of His earthly ministry. In Romans we are told that our Baptism is an identification with Christ's life, death, and resurrection. Jesus came, identified Himself with the lowly, denied himself, and gave up His life. Paul put it this way.
Philippians 2:5-9 "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, (6) who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, (7) but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. (8) Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (9) For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name"
The one who had no need of baptism submitted and was exulted. Those who were in desperate need of repentance exulted themselves and were brought low.
In your area of influence are you more like the religious leaders or Jesus?
When someone humbles themselves, is that a strength or weakness?
What does this mean for your own Baptism? How does the life you live reflect on your baptism?
Are there other issues in this text you would like to discuss?