Sunday, May 29, 2016

Jesus (formerly) of Nazareth

The Word for today:
Ezekiel 18, 19
mark this: Ezekiel 18:1-4
The Lord spoke to me and said, "What is this proverb people keep repeating in the land of Israel?--
'The parents ate the sour grapes, But the children got the sour taste.'
"As surely as I am the living God," says the Sovereign Lord, "you will not repeat this proverb in Israel any more.
The life of every person belongs to me, the life of the parent as well as that of the child. The person who sins is the one who will die."
Ezekiel stressed his themes of sin, judgment, and restoration not only for the nation but also for the individual--a unique emphasis for his day.
When people complained that they were suffering because of their fathers' sins, Ezekiel countered by stressing individual sin and judgment, individual righteousness and salvation.  This individual emphasis anticipates the New Testament, where each individual is responsible to make a personal decision for Christ.
Ezekiel taught that we are not held under the sway of precedent influences.  You are not required to follow your father into sin, your mother into a bloodless social religion, your girlfriend into sex, your roomate into moral indifference, or your culture into mind-numbing inanity. And you are not required to agree with your professor's outlook on anything.
You owe them nothing. If you want to develop some spiritual muscle, begin today.  Pick an ungodly or antichrist influence and rebel against it.  Sever the ties you must. Kick your culture to the curb. Inform peers that you're a peer no longer. And as you turn to leave, don't thank them for the memories.
It might surprise you to know the names of the two greatest rebels in your Bible.
We romanticize Cain as the rebel when, in fact, he was the ultimate Mama's boy. He tried to approach God on his own terms, just like Mommy Eve had done.
The only rebel in the family was Abel. He faced down everyone in his family in order to come to God in the way God prescribed.
Abel rebelled against everyone; while Cain--as acquiescent as Adam--took Mommy's way, rebelling against no one. You tell me who the rebel was.
Some romanticize Satan as a rebel. He wasn't a rebel at all. He was prisoner to his own pride.
Jesus Christ at a young age told his family that he must be about his Father's business. He didn't mean carpentry. Just before his Father indicated that it was time to make his way from Nazareth to Golgotha, he (like Abel before him) curtly cut the apron strings:
"Woman, what have you to do with me?"  (1)
If any of your associations or influences compromise your relationship with Christ, then take his advice:
Shake the dust off your feet; (2)
Let the dead bury their dead; (3)
and never look back, (4)
because he who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (5)
On the other hand, if your father, mother, church, or friend have shown you the way to God, then you are to honor them with your whole heart.
I've said many goodbyes in order to be about my Father's business. I've cut many ties in order to navigate the way from my own Nazareth to the cross;  and then to show others the way out of Nazareths of their own.
There's a lot of dust you'll be leaving behind, and a lot of funerals you'll be missing. Because, you see, you are one in Spirit now with the arch-rebel of all time.  Like him, in the long run, you will--you must--rebel against everything but God.
Can anything good come out of Nazareth?  Yes, but first you have to get out.
(1) John 2:4; (2) Matthew 10:14; (3) Luke 9:60; (4) Luke 9:62; (5) Matthew 10:37

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