Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 17 November 21:
John 16:1-4 — “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.”
Jesus warned His followers they would be persecuted by people from within the church in the name of God because, though these persecutors were very religious, they “have not known the Father, nor me.” Jesus warned His followers so, under the pressure of the worldly church, His true followers would not ‘fall away.’ We must be very careful not to allow unfaithful but powerful elements within the contemporary church compromise our fidelity to Jesus. If you are truly obeying God’s word, you might find that your greatest critics are members of the church. Jesus warned His followers they would be persecuted in the name of religion and righteousness like He was persecuted by religious leaders and governing officials. However, we must be careful not to allow the harsh, callous culture turn us into harsh, callous people too. We must be faithful to our message and ministry of reconciliation.
“Whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.” Many Christians have hurt other Christians and unbelievers while thinking they were serving God in the process. Even if you are right on a spiritual matter, you can be terribly, sinfully wrong in how you address the matter with others if your motivation is wrong or your approach is inconsiderate or unloving. In other words, you can handle God’s word hurtfully and foolishly – “Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of fools.” (Proverbs 26:9) If your actions don’t feel gracious, reconciliatory, and loving, they probably aren’t, and you are likely outside of God’s will. When you are operating outside of the command of love, you are no longer gathering with Jesus but rather scattering – “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30)
- Galatians 6:1 — Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
- 2 Timothy 2:24-26 — And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
- 2 Timothy 4:2 — Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
- Leviticus 19:17 — “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 17 November 21: Speak the truth in love, and if others respond unlovingly, respond back to them lovingly. Remember who you represent – “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)