Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sidetakers, and the whole counsel of God...

I recently found a site called Sidetakers. The gist of the site is that you can anonymously post individual questions asking for advice, or "sides", where each of the people in a dispute can post his/her side of "the story". The other users of the site can then comment and/or vote their advice.

I came across this post, titled "I hate my sister because of the things she has done, am I a bad person?" It's a very sad situation, as you can see:

My older sister, has always bullied me since I was little.
When she started to grow up my parents gave her all the attention because she was a bit of a 'lose cannon". She did drugs, drank heavily and slept around. She made fun of me in public at school, and always took everyone elses side.
My sister when reaching 18 left home and told no1 where she was going. She contacted noone for 6months, we all thought she was dead. I found her through some of my friends, only because of how upset my parents were. She didnt want to be found.
When she left, she started a lot of rumours, about myself and the rest of my family, she got child services called on my parents cause of all her lies.
To this day (5 years on) she still treats me like dirt, when my parents arent around she will hit me and speak to me like crap. She puts all my friends down and my boyfriend and when no one is around treats them like dirt.
I try to be nice to her, but after recent events where she tried to turn my mum against me, have i realised i hate her and cannot bare to look at her face.
Everyone tells me im a bad person cause no one can hate family. In my mind, she has never been family, family doesnt treat family like that.

I responded with the following:

I like what waterbug said: "Love her from a distance, and pray for her."

To do this properly, you /must/ run to Jesus. (If you don't know Him, find someone who does, and have them introduce you.)

The reason I say this is that He has been in your situation, and has demonstrated the best, most righteous loving-kindness toward those who hate Him. No other role model even comes close.

How so? Well, to put it succinctly: "He came to His own, and His own received Him not." (John 1:11) And again, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) And again, "...Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person -- though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die -- but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

What do I mean? Well, let me explain. You see, God says the following about us humans:

"There is none righteous, no, not one:
There is none that understands,
there is none that seeks after God.

They are all gone out of the way,
they are together become unprofitable;
there is none that does good, no, not one.

Their throat is an open sepulchre;
with their tongues they have used deceit;
the poison of asps is under their lips:
whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
their feet are swift to shed blood:
destruction and misery are in their ways:
and the way of peace have they not known:
there is no fear of God before their eyes." (Romans 3:10-18)

God created us, and loves us, and wants us to enjoy Him forever. But it is written:

"Why do the heathen rage,
and the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against Yahweh, and against His anointed [Christ],

'Let us break their bands asunder,
and cast away their cords from us.'" (Psalm 2:1-3)

We want nothing to do with Him Who is the source of all love and blessing. You see, every one us (you, me, and your sister included) has railed against Him, and hated Him, "without a cause" (John 15:25). Indeed,

"He is despised and rejected of man;
a man of sorrows, and aquainted with grief:
and we hid as it were our faces from him;
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely He has borne our griefs,
and carried our sorrows:
yet we did esteem Him stricken,
smitten of God,
and afflicted.

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace was upon Him;
and with His stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and Yahweh has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and He was afflicted,
yet He opened not his mouth:
He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb,
so He opens not His mouth.

He was taken from prison and from judgement:
and who shall declare His generation?
for He was cut off out of the land of the living:
for the transgression of my people was He stricken.

And He made His grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in His death;
because He had done no violence,
neither was any deceit in His mouth.

Yet it pleased Yahweh to bruise [literally, 'crush'] Him;
He has put Him to grief:
when thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
and the pleasure of Yahweh shall prosper in His hand.

He shall see the travail of His soul, and be satisfied:
by His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many;
for He shall bear their iniquities.

Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great,
and He shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because He has poured out His soul unto death:
and He was numbered with the transgressors;
and He bare the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors." (Isaiah 53)

Note that /because/ He sacrificed Himself for our sins, His Father "prolong[ed] His days." That means, He raised Him from the dead, and now, "He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing that He ever lives to make intercession for them."

That includes "saving" your situation with your sister. But you have to "come unto God," and you have to come to God "by Him." (He said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man comes to the Father but by me." [John 14:6])

Meditate on His sacrifice, and believe on His name. Ask Him to assist you in doing what He said, regarding your sister:

"You have heard that it has been said,

'Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.'

But I say unto you,

'Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;'

that you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matthew 5:43-45)

(On a side note: there is a 5K character limit to the comments; and my reply is exactly 5K characters. :)

Anyway, I post this to make a point. Jesus is the answer to everything ("According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue..." 1 Pet. 1:3)

It may seem as though my comment is "off-topic", or "irrelevant", because I speak of the Gospel, instead of "directly" (as the world defines it) addressing the woman's issue. But there is no more relevant advice than saying, in essence, "The love of Christ as demonstrated on the Cross is what's called for here. For you and she both are sinners, hating God, and He gave His life for you. So, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.'"

How often are we guilty of giving people our opinion and psychology instead of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Of course, we can (and should!) apply it to their situation ("the light shines in darkness"), but if the central message of our counseling is not what He has done to fix their situation, then we are "the blind leading the blind." (And we both fall into the ditch.) Indeed, "if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Cor. 4:3, 4 ESV)

So what then? should we not bring the gospel into the situations of the unbelievers, simply because Satan has blinded them to it's truth? God forbid,

"For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Cor. 4:5, 6 ESV, emphasis mine)

God called light out of darkness, and how much more can He shine into the darkness of their hearts, and give the light of the knowledge of His glory, crushing the powers of darkness under His feet!

How dare we substitute our own "counsels" for "the whole counsel of God"! May it never be.

Christ is risen.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Eschatology -- Funny?

Just got done watching this video, entitled "An Evening of Eschatology", in which each of the three major views regarding the Millenium are presented, and discussed. The event was hosted by Bethlehem College and Seminary, produced by Desiring God, and moderated by Pastor John Piper.

I highly recommend this as a primer on the three views presented, and as a starting point for one's own internal journey in the area of eschatology. (If you don't know what "eschatology" is, watch the first few minutes of the video: they explain it in layman's terms.)

I never thought such a "dry" subject could be discussed so hilariously. I laughed more through those two hours than through the majority of "comedy" movies/shows I've seen, put together. These men are genuinely hilarious! You can tell they truly enjoy each other's company, even though, at the same time, they vociferously object to various points of each other's positions.

This video is also a great example of how believers can hold differing viewpoints on the "non-essentials", vigorously debate and defend those viewpoints, and still be one in Christ, because of the love of Christ flowing in and through them. Many Fundamentalists would do well to take note.

I hope you enjoy the video. Whether you enjoy it or not, feel free to comment below. :)