Friday, February 7, 2014

30/30: My Favorite Scripture

Welcome to week 4 of the 30/30 Vision Blog Challenge. Today's prompt is a tough one for me- one verse or passage of scripture that I would call my favorite. Just one? Who makes these things up? Oh wait... Anyway, I'm gonna' give it a go!

As I began to form this post, so many verses came came rushing to my mind. From going to Quaker Lake Camp back in middle school in I still remember 1 John 4:7-8Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." That same summer I learned Ephesians 4:32, and it's never left my heart: "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." I made up a song for VBS one summer using the words from 2 Corinthians 5:17: "If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. Everything old has passed away, see everything has become new." The Psalms have always been very meaningful to me, especially numbers 23, 51. 100, 119 and 139. Micah 6:8- "Do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God"- is what I see every time I turn my phone on. I love the first verses of the Gospel of John, where we learn that "the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it." The words of Jesus in John 3:16-17 and John 10:10 are words that I use almost daily. Matthew 25 and the parable of the sheep and the goats has long been a favorite, in part because so much of the modern church likes to pretend that Jesus didn't really mean it. It's that radical. My life verse for ministry was always 1 Thessalonians 2:8: "Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well." That, to me, is the very definition of what ministry should be. And Acts 2:42-47 is the definition of what the church was meant to look like: "They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." I believe everyone in the Body of Christ needs to be accountable to the question, "Do we do Acts 2:42?" But none of those scriptures get the nod as my favorite. In fact, the decision was fairly easy for me. And here's the winner: 

Matthew 5:3-12

That's right...The Beatitudes! Ever since memorizing the passage after the late Rich Mullins told me back in 1990 that this scripture was the condensed version of EVERYTHING Jesus taught, it has been at the core of my faith. These verses speak simply yet powerfully to the calling we have to be different from the world we live in. They remind us that Christianity is not about some set of religious guidelines or following some's about grace, peace and mercy and about following THE leader! I would go through them one-by-one and offer commentary, but this paraphrase from Eugene Peterson's The Message does a wonderful job of that. Here we go:

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, Ido! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

I mean how good is that? And how clear is it the Beatitudes call us to something different than "doing church?" I remember someone saying to Rich all those years ago that they didn't like this scripture, because all of the things Jesus says will make us happy actually make us look weak. Being poor in spirit, being meek, being merciful and being peaceful seemed to this guy to be good ways to get run all over by our world. Rich responded that the man was right. By the world's (and often the church's) standards they do make us appear weak. Those same attributes made Jesus seem weak as well. He was weak to the point that he allowed people to push him around and eventually kill him. But that "weak" man would defeat death, conquer sin and save every one who believes in him. Rich finished by saying that if being weak means being like Jesus and being able to generate that kind of love, then he wanted in. And I do too.

One last editorial thought: I am so tired of Christians whining about how they're persecuted by society (see Duck Dynasty). First, most of us aren't. And secondly, if we are? Celebrate! Confused? Go back and check out verses 10-12 one more time...

Thanks for stopping by. Join me next Friday when we change gears and deal with the prompt, Junk Foods You Can't Refuse! Have a blessed weekend!

Because of Jesus,

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2/07/2014

    Great choice, my friend. And a powerful post. We are indeed called to be some kind of different! ~Chris Cooper


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