We are living in the midst of turmoil. Our nation is struggling in the midst of intense national division. We see racial strife, cultural divisions, polarizing political views, and a growing economic gap between the wealthy and the truly poor. I suspect that most of us likely would list ourselves among the poor, but I mean those who are truly poor. Most of us do not wonder where our next meal is coming from, but there are many who do. We may not be able to go out and buy whatever we desire, but we generally have no struggles buying what we need.
We are at odds over what we consider a moral decline that others view as a much needed cultural revolution. We grieve over the loss of innocent life while our neighbors celebrate a woman’s right to choose. We resist the cultural changes to marriage and family structure while abandoning our own commitments to biblical marriage.
I watched with a saddened heart these past few days as so many disillusioned young people protested over the outcome of the presidential election. They state that they’ve lost all hope and don’t know what to do. Here’s a quote from one 40 year old protestor, “The current situation is not good for us and our children,” Sanjay said. “I’m here for my kids because I don’t want them to think we didn’t do something. … A lot of people feel hopeless right now.”
Now, before you react and start feeling contempt or anger over these protests, remember that peaceful protest is a hallmark of our national heritage and a constitutionally protected right. I recognize that the associated violence and property destruction is not, but what I really want you to hear are the words this woman ends with… “a lot of people feel hopeless right now.” If the church doesn’t hear and react to those words, then we are not being reflective of our Lord’s passion for people.
“Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum? ” When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”” (Mark 2:15-17 NLT)
Please hear those powerful words again, “I have not come to call those who THINK they are righteous, but those who KNOW they are sinners.” We must be careful because we in the church are beginning to more closely resemble those who “THINK” they are righteous than those who “KNOW” they are sinners.
But the primary point I want you to see in this passage is that life is NOT the result of right living. Life is the result of the VOICE of the Lord and right living is the result of life in Him. We have a real tendency to get this process turned around, even those of us who know it very well. We tend to act like eternal life and relationship with God are the result of our moral choices, and that’s an extremely dangerous direction to head.
Yet, that is precisely what scripture isn’t saying. Life isn’t based on the box you marked on your ballot. Life is the result of the Son speaking resurrection into your dead heart. What is needed from believers in this volatile situation is a calm assurance of our hope in Christ and our unwillingness to stoop to these kinds of actions and reactions. We must remember we’ve been called to love those discarded by society, to care for those injured by man’s injustices, to speak up for those who are oppressed, and to point them to the one who speaks life into their dead, hopeless hearts.
Those Who Hear:
But, notice that these “words of life” are only for those who will hear. Hearing, in this instance, is not a matter of physical ability but spiritual awareness and understanding. There are many who have heard the words of life, but have rejected them and the one who speaks them. The ability to hear and understand the words of life are the result of a heart that desires God above all else. At the end of the parable of the sower in Mark 4, Jesus ends by stating, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” (Mark 4:9 NLT)
There are many who simply reject Jesus’ words outright. They either deny his authority or reject his exclusive claims. They don’t have ears that hear the truth of his words nor a desire to love God. There are others who hear the truth of his words, but are quick to leave them behind because of the demands Jesus makes on their allegiances and love. They had ears to hear, but the noise of their own desires quickly drowns out the voice that gives life. Still others hear the voice that gives life, but they are so consumed with their own needs and desires they completely miss out on the joy this life brings. They have life, but it is fruitless and devoid of the real joy God’s promises.
But, there are those who hear the words of life spoken by the creator. The words fall on their ears like a drenching rain on parched ground. They receive his words and they bring life and joy to the depths of their soul. They recognize the truth and power in his words and they submit themselves to His authority and lordship. Nothing is held back and His lordship is absolute. Do you have ears to hear? Or are you…
Deaf to God:
John says that Jesus has been granted the right to judge ALL men because of who he is, the Son of Man. Not only has he been granted the authority to judge, he has the power to resurrect those hear his words.
“Then I saw a scroll in the right hand of the one who was sitting on the throne. There was writing on the inside and the outside of the scroll, and it was sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel, who shouted with a loud voice: “Who is worthy to break the seals on this scroll and open it?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll and read it. Then I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and read it. But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals… And they sang a new song with these words: “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:1-5, 9-10 NLT)