Practical Proverbial, from Titus, 5 August 2019

It trains us to reject ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope, that is, the glorious appearance of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Titus 2:12-13 (EHV).

It happened again.   More shootings, more murder, more violence done on innocents.   The media assesses blame; politicians pander for cheap points; people take sides yet again.  Average folks simply living their lives are gunned down and nothing seems to change.   It happens every day in our cities, yet when a mass shooting occurs, it shocks us.   We send our thoughts and prayers but some scoff at those, mocking them, mocking us; mocking this Jesus we follow.

God’s word is for our use, not for us to build walls around ourselves or our houses of worship.   God’s word, specifically the saving grace He describes through it, is an active tool that trains us to repent and re-shape our lives.   To reach those who don’t know or are hurting.  God’s word, ALL of it, is the one thing that can consistently teach us how to live together in peace.

So, if we can live in peace through God’s word, how is it that, over the weekend, those mass murders happen, one here in Texas and another in Ohio?  God gives us this wonderful tool and yet evil seems to prevail, people still choose evil over peace.   Christian cliques or no, these things still keep happening.

I wonder if the shooters ever considered the words here in Titus.   Jesus called Paul, and later Paul taught Titus.  I wonder if someone ever exposed them to the lessons Paul taught about how clinging closer to Jesus wards off the temptation to submit to evil.   While we wait for the blessed hope and return of Jesus our Savior, we have to live with each other here on the Third Rock.   Perhaps Paul would agree that the only way we can do that is by keeping our eyes focused on Jesus, our hearts cleaving to Him.   By constantly going back to the cross to remember what He did for us on it.  Especially when scoffers ridicule believers by saying this Jesus is absent.

Especially after this weekend, we need that invisible Christ who reaches out through us to comfort our sisters and brothers and resist the urge to respond with more evil.   In the aftermath of murder, now isn’t the time to focus on the slander, or to stick to our cliques.   To paraphrase my friend, Chad Bird, now is the time to see how violence done to innocents is atoned to peace through the innocent man on the cross who had unspeakable violence done to Him.

For further reading:  1 Corinthians 1:7, 2 Timothy 3:12, 2 Peter 1:1, Titus 2:14.

Lord Jesus, help us to stay closer to You.   Comfort through us; help others through us; help us to help others by ministering as You would.

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Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 20 January 2016

Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.” Mark 14, verses 1-2.

These verses further entrench my disgust for all things political. That’s anachronistic because I follow politics.   The silly season of American politics in which we find ourselves now has always fascinated me.   I enjoy history; I love to read about it and see places where big events happened.   Like it or not, most of those events are memorable because there were political activities or overtones involved in them.   These days especially, it’s important that we, as citizens and voters, keep up on the views of those who seek to govern us.   Not just anyone can or should be president, or in any elected office actually.

Yet fascination and civic duty not withstanding, more often than not I find myself disgusted by the politics that are played out in our lives.   So many decisions, so many actions, are dictated by the whims of the politics of those who have been put in charge.   Politics were the biggest reason why I “divorced the Air Force” and got out at 11 years active.   I was disgusted that nearly every decision I made, as a junior NCO, was politicized by (who I perceived to be) a great many unqualified people around me.   In the space of just a few years, my part of the service went from being agile and able to having to seek approval for nearly every action we took from numerous uninvolved parties in the non-combat chain of command.   Politics.

At work we play politics, gauging what we should and shouldn’t say so as to not offend the most people on our team.   In church we structure the leadership around politically elected officers who, to be honest, can sometimes be as partisan or ineffective as any member of Congress. Ever been to a family reunion?   Ever held your tongue at the dinner table or listened to a cousin, uncle or parent rant on about something in pop culture?

Politics:   they’re through and through in our lives and they disgust a great many folks.   Today’s verses that talk about what the Jewish chief priests and elders said and did only reinforce that disgust.  If you think about it, the priests and elders did what they did for politics.   It was to hold on to their power, to preserve their political and ecclesiastical power in Jerusalem. They didn’t want to rock the boat; they didn’t want things to change unless it meant change in their favor and this itinerant rabbi from Galilee threatened a very different kind of change.   He had to be stopped.

But the priests were afraid of what the general population would do if said population found out about the politics that the ruling class was playing. There could be rioting or violence.   More likely, there would be a loss of tithing and income at the Temple. No matter what could happen, it would mean a threat to the status quo and the power base of those in charge.

All because of politics. The Son of Man was murdered because of disgusting petty power politics.

Lord I pray that you forgive me when I fail You, when I put the politics of this world above Your mission.

Read Mark 14, verses 1-11.