Monthly Archives: January 2021
“Did you finish killing everyone who was against peace?”
Is this how most of us bulldoze our way through our days? We disagree with someone for whatever reason and then we go about destroying them or what they stand for and call ourselves righteous.
There is nothing wrong with analyzing a situation. The problem comes when our reaction causes an outpouring of “yuck” that puts us in the same or worse category than the one we reacted to!
Remember the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15? The younger son took his fortune given to him by his loving father and ran off to spend it frivolously. When he came to his senses and returned, his father was ecstatic and organized a welcome party. What was the response of the older brother who at that point had stood beside the father and diligently supported him?
“The older brother stomped off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!’
“His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!’” Luke 15:28-32 MSG
Instead of coming alongside his father as he should have, the son, in his own selfishness, did the same thing the other son had done. He discarded his father’s wisdom and he turned from him. It could be argued that the second son hurt his father more than the first because the expectation of the father about his older son was that he had learned from his father and understood what was right living. But in fact, the older son did not “get it”. He, too, was selfish plus self-righteous – a very ugly combo.
Those of us who have committed ourselves to following God, as Our Father, His Son as our Savior and His Spirit as our guide have an obligation to react and respond in a way that shows God that we have learned from Him and understand how to support and celebrate with Him.
Why? Because right living is more than an expectation in eternity.
 The Contrariness of the Mad Farmer by Wendell Berry, Collected Poems, 1957-1982 (San Francisco: North Point, 1985) p. 121
2021! Everyone seems to be genuinely excited for the New Year. But is our excitement truly for this New Year? Could it be that it is really about kicking 2020 to the curb?
As we contemplate the answer to that question, let us turn to scripture for guidance.
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah territory— this was during Herod’s kingship—a band of scholars arrived in Jerusalem from the East. They asked around, “Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled his birth. We’re on pilgrimage to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2 MSG
The Wise men were on a long, sacred journey to find Jesus. As they got close to their unknown destination, they stopped to consult the current king, Herod. It as a logical thing to do since they were coming to find the Jewish King and they assumed Herod would know the location of the birth of the next Jewish King.
Not only did Herod not know the location of this new King, but he was also surprised and taken aback by the purpose of the travelers’ journey. He was king and certainly did not want someone he didn’t even know to take his place. He deceitfully asked the Wise men to contact him when they found the King so that he too could go and worship this King.
The mission for these two groups was the same – find the newborn King. However, their motives and goals were totally opposite from one another.
The Wise Men were scholars from the East searching for what they knew to be the newborn King of the Jews. Even though they were not Jewish, they recognized and wanted to pay homage to a power greater than anything they knew. Guided by a star, they were set on a quest to a yet unknown destination, filled with excitement, hope and determination to give honor to the new King. Their motive appeared to be pure and unencumbered by any personal agendas.
Herod, on the other hand, was a non-Jewish king appointed by Rome. He was a ruthless, conniving despot who murdered his wife, his three sons and countless others. He, of course, wanted to find this newborn usurper who was going to steal his power and destroy him. His motive and determination had a nothing to do with worship. His goal was to kill the child to ensure his own power. His response to this information about a child King was to set forth a decree to kill all male children under 2 years old.
So what can be gleaned from this 2000 year-old event of the Wise Men and Herod? We know that both groups were looking for the same child with vastly different motives. What about us? Are we a people learning daily from God’s Word and seeking Jesus or are we focused on our own personal agendas? Are we looking into this New Year with anticipation, excitement and hope or with trepidation, fear and hopelessness? Are we looking forward to finding what God has for us in the unknown with a “best is yet to come” mentality or are we conniving and planning to stay in control and maintain our own power and position?
Think this through carefully. Our hearts and/or our heads may be saying the answer is the obvious “right” choice – but our words to the world may be saying the opposite. Make a conscience decision to speak life into this New Year! Speak about what we believe and know to be true!
Jesus is our King and He is the Way the Truth and the Life! And we already know where to find Him!
He is guiding us in this day . . . and each and every day of 2021!