Monday, October 31, 2011

Know This – The LORD Will Hear



“See, the Lord’s hand is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. Rather, your iniquities have been barriers between you and your God.” ~Isaiah 59:1-2b (NRSV).


This is not telling us anything we do not already know. Already we have an understanding of what’s required to please God—faith in Christ Jesus our Lord.


This, at its most basic, is abiding to the truth in and of life.


And still, there are the naysayers who want us to feel abjectly castigated for the garrulously graceless approach of Isaiah in this section of the Book of Comfort. They latch onto the flimsiest of parcels to discourage.


Instead, a Message of Encouragement


This section is instead read with encouragement.


Its message is no different than the forerunners; the Mosaic, the historical landscape, the deuteronomic theology of retribution woven through the entire Old Testament. There is blessing for obedience and cursing for disobedience.


But, we are the ones in control of our own destinies! That should be of enormous encouragement to us.


God’s Promises – Ours for the Obtaining


Faith is taking God at his Word, and the Bible is littered with choruses of God’s wonderful, wild and wincing promises.


The truth is we’re already obtaining the payment for these promises. It’s been like this all our lives if we reflect. We should be able to read the Bible and understand this. The Bible is, therefore, giving us important cues and clues on how to engage with life. Blessing and cursing are both choices, ultimately.


There is little wonder that this “Word of Truth” is considered so powerful.


A Message for Our Prayer Life


If our prayers aren’t uttered most certainly by our actions then we cannot be praying very well.


Think about it. We are caricatures of our thoughts and our feelings. Whatever we think on, dwelling over, we’ll become. This is our prayer life, despite what even our words sound like as we ‘pray’ to God.


Let us live today, just today, our prayer life. Our God will hear!


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Surviving the Deserts of the LORD



“Surely the LORD your God has blessed you in all your undertakings; he knows your going through this great wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing.” ~Deuteronomy 2:7 (NRSV).


It’s fascinating to find this location, and once there to find it again and again.


The specific vicinity is the parched land of the spirit—dried out in the presence of a vacuum where the spirit’s spirituality has, through no fault of its own, been left to wither and slowly die for the faintness of hope and joy. There is, however, a classic irony; maturity is forged never more quickly as we survive the deserts of the Lord.


An overstated, though thoroughly alluring, reality is the felt Presence, known emotionally, of the Almighty God.


Many of the most revered Christian servants were infirmed by Spiritual paralysis.


And although we may now enjoy the blessed anointing—the gift of God’s felt Presence—we daren’t take it for granted. It is not only disobedience that discharges such a reality; part of the mystery of God suggests anyone is susceptible.


Reassurances of the Lord


How incredible it is to comprehend that, though the Lord turned his back on the people for forty years, and seventy during the great exile of Babylon, the living God never abandoned the chosen nation of Israel. He never abandons us.


We would be deceived to think that the deserts of the Lord, those dark nights of the soul, are God’s final word, and the only thing to be said on the matter.


It seems that way.


The deceiver is the accuser (Revelation 12:10) and the enemy of God.


That selfsame enemy will punch through our conscious awareness and indwell our spiritual immune system, compromising the integrity of our wellbeing. This will, without much doubt, occur if we forget, or lose touch with, the eternal reassurances of the Lord to never leave us nor forsake us. It’s such a simple thing to forget.


When Deserts Cannot Conquer We Are Invincible in the LORD


As the Apostle James proclaims, “Whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy” (James 1:2), he redeems for us knowledge of victory out of the vast landscape of ostensible defeat.


Forty years in the desert. Capture that in your mind. Think about it for a month, or six, or ninety-six. Still they were wandering. But they didn’t wander forever.


As we wander in our deserts of want, seemingly for an eternity, faith tells us the Lord is still there. And sooner or later the grip of drought will cease. The famine will make way for plenteousness. And still, even in a vacuum, God is providing.


Only as we look back, considering the tremulous road we have endured, do we distinguish the path of God’s Presence with us. Even, especially even, in the consignment of spiritual desolation we can see it. We can know it as God.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Church – Ever Real, Never Ideal... Not Yet



“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” ~Mark 3:24-25 (NRSV).


There are many similar clich├ęs alluding to Jesus’ truth above. For instance, ‘Divide and conquer’, or ‘United we stand, divided we fall’.


There is no more important a concept for the church than unity.


Many Christians may have memory of times when they met at church, perhaps during members’ meetings, and disparate persons, set with their own agendas, railed against votes on pastors, major church plans, and progress toward unity. They believed staunchly in the ideal church.


Whilst unity is fundamental to the workings of God’s grace within a fellowship, the unswerving goal of ideal will divide that house and it will not be able to stand.


Ideal must be tempered by real.


If we are to achieve unity we must live with a tension; we must bridge the real-ideal gap. In other words, whilst we strive for the ideal, we must accept the real. Church, like any other human organisation, is riddled with imperfection: imperfect pastors, overly gregarious door greeters, gossipy small groups; faults with fellowship.


Let us not forget, Christ has not made his church perfect, yet. “Yet” is the operative word.


Bridging the Real-Ideal Gap


Presuming you already belong to a church of fellowship, you will already know that that group of believers, as a collective, is far from perfect. Indeed, there are known instances of people being hurt, of the occasional poor decision, personality clashes, inappropriate timings for things, disagreements, doctrinal differences etc.


The interesting thing is if your church hasn’t been afflicted with the occasional problem—which are opportunities for conflict resolution—then it may be a case of stale, overly safe fellowship. People are unlikely to grow in such an environment.


Church—this side of the Parousia—was always meant to be real, not ideal.


As we bridge this gap we hold the real and ideal balls in the air simultaneously.


We understand, and even expect, and accept, that the people we meet at church will have similar fears, faults, failures, and hurts holding them down as we do. Their minds may be burdened as ours often are. They are tempted to fixate on one inappropriate gesture or a coarse word just like we do. They, also, like us, struggle not to judge, particularly those ‘who should know better’. We should expect to be tested by the Lord’s enemy these ways; to be aware of any form of conflict set on division.


We go to church expecting imperfection, mistakes; human beings plying their craft.


Yet, as persons, and within our groups, we do our best, accepting that less than our best is mostly good enough.


***


Church is a place where perfect people are not welcome because they will be incompatible with those they find there. The real person, who knows they’re imperfect, fits right in. They know they live in an imperfect world. They also know that the church, in this worldly age, before the end comes, is a microcosm of the world. They value unity well over perfection.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Listening for the LORD


“Now the LORD came and stood there, calling as before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening’.” ~1 Samuel 3:10 (NRSV).


Three times Samuel had ventured off to Eli to ask what he was calling for. On the third occasion Eli works out what is going on. The Divine Lord was calling Samuel.


He calls to each of us.


The human proclivity, as seen here via Samuel, is to charge about at the obvious without seeking to determine what is actually being said or, more aptly in this circumstance, who is saying it.


As listeners, we make very good speakers. We defy the sensibilities of having two ears and one mouth.


Learning to Listen for God


Samuel obeyed the Lord. Yet, he was only just beginning to learn how to hear.


Hearing God—actively listening—is not a skill like actively listening with human beings is, as much as it’s the willingness to slow down and take in the patient silence with which the Lord speaks.


As listeners we must become virulent meditators and praying persons of the Word. We seek first to listen, and only to speak when we have heard, and heard right.


Many times, however, we find God has little to say in our prayer time; we have the Lord’s full hearing as we speak during these times. It’s more the case that God will want to speak to us, in his silent language, by the things of everyday life—not during our sacred prayer time.


We need to learn how God awakens our understanding.


When we do this, practising the presence of the Lord in our going out and coming in, we find that God wants to guide us in so many things, little and large, significant and seemingly insignificant. (Everything is significant.)


Installing the Role of Prophecy


People are often confused regarding prophecy’s most common function. It isn’t in discerning the future, in ways to instruct or warn others, communities, and nations.


Sure, there are prophets for those roles. But our role in prophecy, as it pertains to our personal and interpersonal lives, is to discern what the Lord is telling us to do. In this way we obey.


We can only do this, pleasing the Lord via faith to listen and apply, if we busy ourselves with the act of listening for, and actively seeking, the will of God in each conscious situation.


God is heard in silence. Like the prophets of old, our chief aim needs to be to discover the moment’s revelation as the Spirit reveals it, and then promptly obey the Lord’s requirements of us.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.



Friday, October 28, 2011

Psalm 58 – In Time, the LORD Will Avenge



“People will say, ‘Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth’.” ~Psalm 58:11 (NRSV).


The uninitiated could be forgiven for reading Psalm 58 as possibly unbiblical. They might contend: “How can Christians pray such passages for harm to their enemies?”


For Christians, that is the very point.


Everyone deals with injustice, directly and personally, whilst also visually, as they survey the nature of life and the indiscriminate character of results both harsh and also just and all between.


The Christian’s defence is the Lord.


The Lord will facilitate vengeance; the Lord will repay (Deuteronomy 32:35, c.f. Romans 12:19). Patience in the mood of distress will see to it.


The Structure for Imprecation


The ‘art’ of imprecating is the fashioning of a curse over one’s enemies, and what this psalm does well is it models a way we can pray when we are contorted in anger as we take in the vista of discouraging injustice sweeping our perspective.


The structure of imprecation in this psalm is simple: a two-verse introduction precedes a broad seven-verse body containing the detail of the psalmist’s imaginatively vitriolic mind as he speaks ruin over the wicked. The conclusion, like the introduction, is contained in two verses.


We may wonder, yet again, whether we can legitimately holler such curses over others. It doesn’t seem ‘Christian’ to do that.


Understanding Imprecation in the Process of Adjustment


Cursing someone who has hurt us may not seem very good, but God understands it is part of the normal human process of adjustment. What this psalm commends is keeping such destructive emotion below the level of action—a commitment to waiting on the Lord.


With psalms like this God allows the venting of normal human reaction. Whether we yell into a pillow, or roar heinous utterances against our betrayers, matters little. The main thing is we have a harmless outlet.


What gives us peace is that God allows for it. God makes room for anger, for we are to be angry, but sin not (Ephesians 4:26).


If we take the first nine verses under advisement, looking at verses 10-11 as instructional, we can see the logical end point in our adjustment: faith will speak for us, as our relative silence goes towards our defence. The Lord is fighting this battle.


***


Many Christians feel confused, even perplexed, regarding their emotions for anger. Indeed, it’s a universal human emotion. Being Christian matters little, except for the command:


“Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil.” ~Ephesians 4:26-27 (NRSV).


Anger is acceptable because God made us in ways to feel it. Our role is to deal with it appropriately. Beyond that, this psalm commends a faith that rewards the patient.


Furthermore, let this be a model for the rest of the world to see. We do not take the law into our own hands.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Spirit of Truth and Revelation



“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” ~John 16:13-14 (NRSV).


As Jesus waited upon and glorified the Father in his corporeal life, the Spirit will wait on and glorify Jesus. This is what Jesus is saying here; that the Holy Spirit will not act independently. The Advocate or Counsellor, as he is known, is hence worthy of our utmost trust.


But there is a limitation, which is dependent on us as persons; as disciples of the Lord. We must be able to discern the Spirit of truth and revelation. Discernment will always be the key challenge. Such is the importance of godly discipleship, humility, a truthful sense of the Spirit, and the ability to act despite oneself, and our flesh-led motives.


The Context of the Message


Verse 12 in this passage offers a vital clue to Jesus’ angle of approach.


He foresees that if he tells his disciples literally everything of what will occur it will be too much for them to bear. He, therefore, reassures them in verses 13-14 that they needn’t worry about having all the answers, for the Spirit coming after Jesus will guide the disciples—and all believers—in the self-same truth of Jesus; the revelation of the truth, all of it, that is to come.


It’s very important and inherently part of God, further still, that there is unification within the Godhead to endorse such truth; that is, the Son abiding in the Father, and the Holy Spirit abiding in the Son.


God acts as one.


The very purpose of the Holy Spirit is to reveal God’s truth; to act as Jesus would have acted were he to be in the flesh with us now. If Jesus were to intercede directly for us, he would, with no doubt, confer with the Father. Likewise, the Holy Spirit is in constant conference with the Lord Jesus.


Perhaps the disciples hadn’t caught on. What Jesus was trying to do, given that he had full access to everything of the Father’s (verse 15), was to vouchsafe the disciples’ belief—that, as the Lord’s earthly life was ending, the idea of salvation living was only, now, just beginning.


Trusting In What We’ve Been Left


We can know from the passages in latter John that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus—God’s truth and revelation. Not that the Holy Spirit is Jesus, but that God is Spirit and, therefore, the Father also is Spirit (John 4:23-24).


As believers, we have been left this Holy Spirit that now dwells within.


The Holy Spirit is God’s gift for living the salvation life; the truth will be made known to those who know God, this way, through the Holy Spirit because truth becomes revelation. Our task is to develop our sense of the Spirit, which only abides in truth. This requires intimacy with God.


How honestly intimate are you with the Lord, today?


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Church and Christian Love



Within a church fellowship context, Jesus said: “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” ~John 13:34b-35 (NRSV).


Some time ago a person criticised something I wrote as ‘church doctrine’; that it was ‘not biblical’. It surrounded the word “revival,” which can be quite a broad term, and not one estranged to concepts biblical (for instance—revival dependent on repentance—2 Chronicles 7:14). I found it rather strange that a Christian could, or would want to, differentiate between the church and what is biblical.


Surely these two are one and the same regarding alignment.


Can we truly love, follow, or obey Jesus Christ without accepting that the church deserves the same level of respect? After all, are not the Lord and his church betrothed?


It is granted that we should not worship the church, as we worship the Lord Jesus Christ, for the church has a different role. The church has an exalted role in the Kingdom purpose that will soon be revealed, and it will not be moved (Matthew 16:18).


We are all intrinsically part of that purpose. That purpose is to love one another.


Church Shows Us How to Love


Known as ‘sandpaper’ ministry, an iron-sharpens-iron metaphor, church facilitates our spiritual growth as we are compelled to love real, often difficult, people (as they are compelled to love us, even when we are difficult). The church is not full of perfect Christians; far from it.


We are sinners and we are all capable of any sin.


Bunny believers—those hopping serially between congregations, fellowships, even entire denominations; never calling one home—shirk the character challenge involved in growing with other believers under the leadership of those accountable to God for their shepherding. Perhaps it’s the same with those who stopped going to church.


They may refuse to be led. In this way they disobey God.


We would all have to admit, church can make us feel decidedly uncomfortable—but how else are we to learn how to love, submitting in difficult situations.


Love is a messy concept to learn. And the church can be a messy place to involve ourselves—neither we nor anybody else in the church is beyond reproach. We all make mistakes.


But, what church teaches us is correct and mature reproof—to facilitate and accept truth in love. This must be the practice of wisdom, to hold two balls in the air simultaneously: truth and love. Both the giver and receiver of reproof are required to exercise truth and love. In such ways mature love grows.


Qualities of the Very Best Witness for Christ


Jesus often spoke in riddles of simplicity—so simple were these concepts entire chapters of the gospels are devoted to one clear theme. But that very simplicity was ironically double-edged; many spin-off meanings can be derived.


In John 13:31-35 the Lord elucidates, according to the New Revised Standard Version, “The New Commandment.”


This is no part of the Bible we pick and choose to obey. It is a command; one with a result.


We are commanded to love each other; each within the body of Christ—the church.


This Commandment has far-reaching consequences. As a result, the world will see, by our submission, which is love, that we are Jesus-followers. It’s only when we don’t do this—when we don’t value the church, and its role in our life—that the world sees us as dogmatic, loveless hypocrites. (Their sentiment: “Call yourself a Christian... I don’t think so!”)


If we love Jesus, we will love the church. When we love fellow Jesus-followers, we show the world who is our Lord, Saviour, and King.


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Psalm 49 – Trust in Wisdom, Not Envy


An oracle of Korahite wisdom: “People who boast of their wealth don’t understand; they will die, just like animals.” ~Psalm 49:20 (NLT).


Comfort is always gathered at the foot of such an oracle as the one above. As we cling to our grasp of this world, endeavouring to find our purpose in the swirling breeze of life, the wisdom of God grounds us peacefully in tranquil grace, and we envy less.


Psalm 49 fits with solidity in the Wisdom genre, with Psalms 1, 37, 73, 112, 119, 127, 133, and even 139. Parts of these psalms may, in fact, read like Proverbs or Ecclesiastes. The great thing about the forty-ninth psalm is its simplicity of theme and its clear directive purpose.


A Call to Hear


The opening appeal of the psalm, in verses 1-4, gives us an important clue; this is a barking wisdom oracle, and the ‘speaker’ insists on being heard. Their message is an urgent one.


This opening is intentioned to draw the notice of all who might perceive.


The Sweet Trickle of Wisdom


Verses 5-9 find the psalmist in a reflectively resolute mood.


He knows there is no need, and no point, to fear. He sees right now from a strangely balanced viewpoint; the transience of life, and the ‘blessings’ of wealth, have lost their glint.


The persecutor trusts in their wealth and the psalmist knows that his success and celebration will be short lived. He commends it better to cast an eye over eternity; to focus on transcending himself rather than bonding with the world.


The Value of Worldly Life Is Exaggerated


Drawing closer to the climax, verses 10-12 discuss death and graves and dwelling places chosen. Very reminiscent of Ecclesiastes are these specific oracles—we read them and we are shocked at the irony of how truthful they are and how dark life seems.


It is our human nature to trust in our wealth, to focus on our status, to revere fame, and to cherish things in numbers—more followers, more friends, more ‘influence’.


But, what for?


That is the psalmist’s implicit question.


Do Not Be Pleased With What You Have!


There is a verse that stands alone. That is verse 13. There is a paragraph break after verse 12 and a Selah after verse 13. The psalmist meant for us, perhaps, to seriously reflect over this pithy proverb:


“Such is the fate of the foolhardy,


the end of those who are pleased with their lot.”


Selah


~Psalm 49:13 (NRSV).


It’s a fact that we live in a reverse life. Whenever we are proudly pleased with our lot or how we think things are turning out, we’re due for a fall.


The fate of the foolhardy is the same as the pauper.


A Question of Faith – The Faithful Will Be Vindicated


The psalmist breaks through with a rare buoyant positive in verse 15, which is immediately followed by another Selah—pause for reflection.


The Lord will ransom the soul of the faithful from Sheol.


A fresh confidence underpins the words following. The psalmist is acutely blessed to have been shown the truth in the way of life, such that they might make decisions for wisdom and not out of envy.


The proud success of the ungodly will not last; soon they will plummet and be disconnected from their riches. The person who trusts in the Wisdom of life, however, will live forever. True riches they will receive!


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.



Worthy (of Seven Blessings) Is the Lamb



“Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” ~Revelation 5:12 (NSRV).


Worship is the nexus of both heaven and the book of Revelation.


Out of Revelation’s highlights reel comes the above verse—the “myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands” of angels singing at shouting full voice, their praise for the King of kings and Lord of lords.


These seven blessings the Lamb is worthy to receive, due the work of the cross—the definitive sacrifice of love:


1. Power – the omnipotence of the Lord is beyond question and recurrent through eternity. Because the Lamb gave up power, worthy is he all the more.


2. Wealth (abundance) – all that is, is God’s—every created thing, concept, law, entity; everything. Because the Lamb became nothing (Philippians 2:7), worthy is he all the more.


3. Wisdom – there is a realm where the Almighty resides with implicit glory, and that is in Wisdom. The Lamb is sure to receive what is rightly his. Because the Lamb was shamed silently by the world’s wisdom (Isaiah 53:7), worthy is he all the more.


4. Might (strength) – our Lord’s strength (grace) is sufficient for us (2 Corinthians 12:9). Also an eternal concept, God’s might is mighty to save. Worthy is the Lamb all the more when we understand Eternity’s strength was both proven and absolved, for us, at the cross.


5. Honour – a quality such as this is the basic worth of God. As a parent ought to be honoured, so ought God to be honoured in the face of all humankind; for every knee will bow and every tongue, confess: Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11). Yet, worthy is the Lamb all the more, for honour vanished at the cross.


6. Glory – there is not a more worthy designation for the Divine Father and his Son than glory. Not only is the eternal residence full of God’s glory, the very nature of God’s works are that too. The Lamb surrendered all glory, even becoming the antithesis of it, at the cross. Worthy is the Lamb all the more!


7. Blessing – a “good word.” Our Majesty is that good word as well is being the good word through the Lamb’s obedience on the cross. The cross is our salvation; it is our blessing. Worthy of the Lamb all the more to be blessed eternally.


***


The Lamb is worthy to receive absolute power, abundance, wisdom, strength, honour, glory, and blessing because, not only is it God’s nature to own these outright—including all right to them indefinitely—but the sinless Lamb was slain to redeem a most filthy humanity; even as we are found, and might continue, in sin (Romans 5:8).


It may be no coincidence that seven (the number for ‘completion’) key criteria are marked for the Lamb, in order that they may complete our transaction of worship, which is an eternal cognisance of the incomprehensible worth of the Saviour.


Not only is God worthy of complete worship in any event, due and manifest in these seven blessings, our Lord proved such an incalculable faithfulness to be hung on a tree; God crucified—devoid of all Divine attributes, barring the depths of love the Creator has for each of his creations.


On the cross, of all God’s character, love was all that was left. Love was all that could not be taken. Love was all that was needed. Love has saved us.


The Lamb is the Son of God, and the Son is the Lamb: Jesus. Two reasons for a complete set of seven blessings exist: 1) God has all and deserves all; and, 2) God gave all and deserves all. Worthy, alone, is the Lamb.


***


If the Lamb is to receive these seven blessings, because of sacrificial love, what will we receive in eternity as we love sacrificially?


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, October 24, 2011

How Much Do We Know Jesus?



“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” ~Matthew 7:21 (NRSV).


How much do we really know the Lord Jesus?


We might: have caught grasp of saving knowledge unto his name; have read our Bibles cover to cover; pray with clever perspicuity; have given away vast sums of money for God’s work; lead a ministry; or, even sponsor a child or three.


But what does all that prove? Are we better for such things and have they brought us closer to God as a result?


To understand how much we know Jesus we need to first know who he was: what characterised him as a man and, therefore, what characterises him as our Lord.


Was Jesus ‘Christian’?


It may seem a funny question, but we can learn a lot about Jesus and Christianity if we explore it.


If a non-believing person is asked to describe the character of Christians, what would they say? They might tell us that Christians are too interested in ‘getting saved’ into eternity, or judging people and situations, than they are about social justice issues.


Jesus, conversely, seemed uniquely interested in social justice issues. Out of 66 chapters in Isaiah, Jesus chose a passage on social justice for his very first reading in the synagogue (Luke 4:18). Jesus came to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release for the captives, the recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.


We have to assume that Jesus was Christian—that the Lord’s personal mark has been indelibly imprinted on this faith that we claim. Therefore, we must also assume that to be Christian we ought to adopt the social justice model, likewise, as the cornerstone of our love-drenched faith.


Many Christians may deplore the thought of Jesus being a humanitarian—one concerned, passionately, with life this side of eternity. But the more we read the gospels, the more we find this humanitarian Jesus coming to the fore.


Exploring Jesus’ Humanitarianism


Almost every story in the gospels has a uniquely human feel to it. The biblical Jesus is found loving the underdog, speaking with and healing the marginalised, and associating with life’s so-called ‘scum’.


In so many ways Jesus was a ‘messy’ Lord. ‘Messy’ is not to be taken in a derogatory sense—indeed, the Son of God delved in the messiness of life. (How many of us would be comfortable mixing in the circles that Jesus routinely mixed in?)


Given that this world is a messy place, this characterised the Lord as a humanitarian.


Like the Sermon on the Mount, this is a difficult morsel for us to swallow. We want a comfortable Christianity. But the regenerate Christian (is there any other?) must feel compelled to do what Jesus did and, therefore, through it, know him.


***


Doctrine is important, but it isn’t everything. Tradition is important, but it isn’t everything. Experiences of the Holy Spirit’s anointing are important, but they aren’t everything. What good is it if we master these things, but do not care for the poor, the captive, the blind, or the oppressed?


© 2011 S. J. Wickham.


Acknowledgment: Rev. Tim Costello, CEO, World Vision.