Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Luke #22 – The Pencil to Draw the Line With

Luke #22 – The Pencil to Draw the Line With

“And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, His name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before He was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought Him to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord; (as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons” (Luke 2:21-24 – King James Version).

I had a talk with a fellow the other day that had a different kind of opinion than I do. He believes in women pastors; I don’t. Before you get all fired up and don’t like me any more, wait and listen. Women and men have the same WORTH before God, but different roles. My feet and hands are equally important to me, but they don’t do the same thing. I ain’t ready to get rid of neither and I’m going to do my best to take care of both.

This is going to be a long devotion and possibly a volatile one. I want to use this inflammatory example to make my point; I want you to remember this too. That old boy I was talking to told me that he used to not believe in women deacons until he served with one; that experience changed his mind. He was surprised to find out that I DO believe in women deacons; he was disappointed to find out that I believe they have a DIFFERENT role than do male deacons. (AGAIN…different does not mean less!) As our conversation continued the man told me that he has a family member that is part of a congregation that affirms a female pastor that is openly homosexual. I’ll never forget his comment: “I won’t go that far…you just have to draw the line somewhere.” Hold these thoughts…let’s get to the Scripture.

Circumcision was given to Israel as a means of participating in the covenant promises that God gave the nation. Any Jewish male that wanted to be identified with God and accept His promises had to be circumcised. It was the signature of a sinful people on the covenantal contract of a holy God. When I say that I immediately think if it was for sinful people, why did Jesus have to be circumcised? Then logic takes over; how many infants will say I reckon I should go get circumcised…that’s right, none!

There are two important things to note here. It was a matter of obedience for Jesus’ earthly parents to do as the law stated and get their son circumcised. He was Jewish. Circumcision was a Judaic ordinance. It was a simple matter of obedience for Mary and Joseph. Secondly, and more importantly, Jesus never came to break the law; rather He came to completely fulfill it. He was born under the law. He came to live the spirit of God’s intentions. He came to show that only the perfect Son of God could perfectly live the law. On top of all of that had Jesus, as a Jew, not been circumcised He would have had no audience with the Jewish people…the people whom He came to minister to first.

You may be thinking what’s this got to do with women pastors and stuff like that? THAT is a great question! How could the standard bearer and standard setter of our faith ignore any part of God’s command? He could not! Now, it would be ridiculous for us to think we can ignore God’s commands today. When we ignore one part of God’s word and accept some other part we are simply living a faith of personal preference. It has never been God’s job to become like us, but our privilege to become like Him. The challenge is not to fit the word into what we already believe, but to come broken before God asking Him to transform us; to make our lives and minds become aligned with His standard.

Mark Twain said “Most people are bothered by those passages in scripture which they cannot understand; but as for me I always noticed that the passages in scripture which trouble me most are those which I do understand.” Let me go back to something I told you to keep in your mind; the man I had the conversation with said “I won’t go that far…you just have to draw the line somewhere.” If we do not draw the line at Scripture as the rule for faith and practice as the standard we WILL draw the line at personal preferences. The danger in that is that there is a way that seems right to man, but that way leads to death (Proverbs 16:25).

We can believe ANYTHING that we want to believe. We can do ANYTHING that we want to do. We can neither believe nor do anything we want and call it Christian. Martin Luther said sola scriptura; in Latin that is a mouthful…it means “Scripture alone” and for us that means the Bible and ALL of its truths are the standard to live the faith by. Jesus is the best interpreter of tough passages; investigate His life and ministry beside any difficult to understand or accept for proper understanding. Christ NEVER took a short cut!

I could go on and on about this subject, but let’s make a point. By God’s sovereign hand He saw to it that even the infant Christ did nothing to break or offend the law. With the life and death of Christ God signed in blood the standard of our faith and that is it is a faith marked by sacrifice and obedience. When we wonder what to draw the line by or with we would do well to find out what the word says and what Jesus did. Will that be easy? No. Will we be challenged to change? Yes. Will we do it?

Whether the topic is women pastors, homosexuality, tithing, or any host of hot topics out there today the standard is the Bible. It is not what we feel or what is currently accepted by society. The world did not make the standard and the world has no right to set the standard for holiness and Christian living. Personal preferences cannot be allowed to decide what is right in God’s eyes, nor will God ever allow that. We might not like a lot of what the word of God says to us, but there is no part that will lead us wrong. It may cause us temporary discomfort, but when God uses His holy word to peel away the hard shell around our heart it is only to get us tenderized so that we might fully and intimately experience Him.

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