Michael Kelley's Blog, page 2

October 12, 2016

Here are a few links to some things you might have missed, or at least ones that caught my attention this past week:

1. Lord, Help Me Feel My Need for You

Our need for God is a fact. But we spend a good deal of our lives insulating ourselves from the reality of our impoverished condition.

2. Tent-Making is Not Second-Class

The Thessalonians were regular people. And Paul saw that not as a hindrance to the gospel, but as a main conduit.

3. Rural Churches Matter

This is very true. So much attention is paid to the growing, popular, hip, urban or suburban megachurch that we can easily neglect these churches and pastors who do good hard work in obscurity.

4. Why Do Others Get the Good I Deserve?

Psalm 73 addresses this feeling of jealousy we all have from time to time. The Psalmist had it, too, and his words can lead us, by faith, to the right conclusion.

5. Jakku: First Wave

This is a very cool Star Wars short film that will actually make you feel bad for stormtroopers.

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Published on October 12, 2016 04:30 • 1 view

October 11, 2016

Christians are communicators. And while some Christians may be more or less gifted at the skill of communication, all Christians are “witnesses.” That is, we are, by the very fact that we have been born again into Christ and therefore witness personally the power of the gospel, to bear witness of what we have seen and heard:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

It is inevitable. Jesus did not say “you might be” or “from time to time you could be,” but instead “you will.” We have been issued a divine summons, and our appearance to testify is not optional. So all of us, whether we be plumber or preacher, poet or pastor, are communicators of the gospel. We communicate about God, His Word, and the gospel in our homes, in our jobs, with our friends, and in our churches, so the question of how we communicate should be very important to us.

It hasn’t always been to me. Once upon a time, a lot of years ago, I was pretty impressed with my own rhetorical skill, and I put together a sermon I was super proud of. I started with a lengthy and elaborate illustration using Gilligan’s Island as the premise. I wrote out the sermon which detailed how all of us, from time to time, get stuck on a spiritual island. And we might use all kinds of things to get off that island – we might use our intelligence, our money, our talent, our charm. See what I did there with each of the characters on the TV show?

Yep. I did that. And then, after it was written out, I remember thinking to myself, I should find some Bible verses to stick into this talk.

By God’s grace, I’ve gotten older. And as I continue to get older, there are some things, I think, that are becoming more important to me about communicating God’s Word. Hopefully these will be helpful to you, too:

1. Clarity over cleverness.

It’s so easy to get enamored with our own cleverness. And in so doing, we can come up with all kinds of clever ways to try and explain things in the Bible through use of illustration. But the danger of doing so is that we might end up obscuring what the Bible says with our own cleverness. In the end, as we think through illustrations, it’s a wise thing to ask whether we are trusting, through the use of our clever rhetoric, if we are trusting in our own ability to communicate more than the power of God’s Word.

2. Faithful over funny.

Humor is a powerful thing. I think Jesus used humor from time to time in His own teaching. I mean, it’s funny to think about a person walking around with a plank sticking out of his head all the while he’s looking for splinters in someone else’s. So humor is a gift, and a tool that we can use to help communicate. But we should also be careful here, because we can easily keep a bag of our “go to” stories that we know will solicit a laugh, and then look for a way to bend the true content of the message in order to work them in.

3. Adoration over admiration.

Everyone likes to be liked. I certainly do. But the danger when we communicate and communicate effectively is that people might leave a conversation or a class or a church service with us dazzled at our rhetoric and yet never brought humbly to the God we represent. If that happens, then we have garnered admiration from another, but we haven’t led that other to adoration of Jesus Christ.

Christian, you are a witness. I am too. The call for us in that witness is faithfulness and clarity that points people to Jesus. Let’s make sure together that in our cleverness and humor we aren’t leading others to admire us but miss the Son of God.

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Published on October 11, 2016 04:30 • 1 view

October 10, 2016

My 6-year-old has a very impressive grasp of statistics and personalities related to American Ninja Warrior. He can tell you all about James McGrath, Daniel Gil, Joe Moravsky, Jessie Graff, and Isaac Caldiero. He can detail for you the jumping spider, the salmon ladder, and the key lock hang.

And now he’s doing a lot of specific exercises to improve his grip strength. That’s because he’s heard more than once on the show that the key to so many of these obstacles is about a competitor’s ability to just hang on.

Grip strength is important for these ninjas, and it’s also important in our spiritual lives. We are many times in Scripture told to continue. To endure. To persevere. Or, in these terms, to just hang on:

“Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us…” Hebrews 12:1

“If we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us…” 2 Timothy 2:12

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

“But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:13

The Christian, then, must develop their spiritual grip strength. We must, by faith, choose again and again to cling to what we know to be true, regardless of our temporary feelings or circumstances. But there are many occasions when our grip strength is put to ill use. In other words, we cling to that which should be let go.

Take, for example, the dogged stubbornness with which we cling to our rights. In various circumstances, our knuckles are white with strain as we grip tightly to what we believe we are entitled to:

I deserve an apology from her.
I deserve to be recognized for my work.
I deserve to be appreciated for my sacrifice.
I deserve some reprieve from suffering.

And there we are, clinging to what we perceive to be ours, hanging on for everything we’re worth. And it’s exhausting.

But it’s also revealing. Our unwillingness to let go of what we think we are entitled to betrays the fact that we are bound to these rights. It shows that we shackled by our commitment to ourselves above all others. It reveals that we have a high opinion of ourselves. And it shows that we have, in truth, a small degree of confidence in Jesus’ advocacy on our behalf.

For that’s what we really want, isn’t it? For someone to come to our defense? For a person in power to justify us? For someone in authority to recognize who we are and what we’ve done? Perhaps if someone would do that for us, then at long last we might know the sweet relief of relinquishing our grip on what we deserve.

How humbling, then, is the gospel, which reminds us of what we truly deserve. What we have truly earned. What we have garnered with all of our self-righteous justification. That we are hopeless sinners, condemned to die eternally. But how sweet is that same gospel, which reminds us that despite what we deserve we do indeed have an advocate. That the right man is on our side.

And finally, how ironic is it that this same gospel reminds us that the true grip strength – the only one that matters – is the grip the Father has on His children. That His arm is mighty to save and His strength to do so never runs out. It’s then that we can finally let go of that which we are holding onto so tightly, for we are confident that He will never let go of us.

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Published on October 10, 2016 04:30 • 1 view

October 7, 2016

by Rob Tims

There will never be enough money for the school your child attends.

There will never be enough quality healthcare for all Americans.

There will never be enough resources to help the poor.

There will never be enough presents under the tree to satisfy every member of your family at Christmas.

There will never be enough time to handle everything you are responsible for.

There will never be a person in your life who doesn’t disappoint you.

There will never be a clean enough house to satisfy you.

There will never be enough sex to give you all the pleasure you desire.

There will never be enough hugs and kisses from your children to warm your heart fully.

There will never be enough exercise programs and diets to give you the body you think you need to have.

There will never be enough converts as a result of your ministry.

There will never be enough time alone with God to make you feel like you’re truly spiritual.

There will never be enough of anything until the One who is more than enough returns.

And when that happens, you will either have more than enough, or nothing at all.

Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. Matthew 25:13
For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. Matthew 25:29
Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:5-6
Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. Revelation 22:12

Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.

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Published on October 07, 2016 04:30 • 1 view

October 6, 2016

Let me pose three very different scenarios, all of which have at least one thing in common with each other:

1. There is a husband who has been married for about 15 years. For some time ago, he and his wife settled into a comfortable routine. While they occasionally have a night out or share a good laugh, his eye has started to wander. He no longer thinks of his wife as beautiful and alluring; instead she is something more than a friend but something less than satisfying. He doesn’t know when it happened, but the spark is gone and their marriage no longer holds any excitement for him, so he feels justified in finding other opportunities that bring about the same excitement that he used to feel so often.

2. There is a baseball player who has been in the big leagues for some time, always a journeyman. He plays his position well but has never been an all star. The game he once loved has become a job for him; he no longer gets excited about putting on his glove and cleats and instead views playing ball the same way anyone in a middle management at a company might view it. He goes out and does his thing, but really lives for the days off. But even on those, he spends half his time dreading going back to his “job” the next day.

3. There is a child who likes some kinds of food very much. Grilled cheese? Check. Chicken strips? Bring it on. Pizza? You betcha. But this child does not like vegetables. She is old enough to have learned about the food pyramid and understands that she should eat her broccoli and asparagus but still doesn’t want to. So every night, it’s a battle of the wills between her and her daddy to see which one will break first. Usually it’s him.

Now what do these three people have in common? On the surface, it’s that they all are bored with something: marriage, work, food – whatever. There is no excitement in those things, even if there once was. But look deeper, and you’ll see that the other thing they have in common is that they have all at one point begun to believe the myth of passion.

The myth of passion is that it is sheer emotion; it comes on you and then leaves, and when it does the only thing you can do is sit there and wait for it to hit you again. If it doesn’t, it’s not your fault – you just don’t like that thing any more. Or you never did. You don’t like your marriage because you fell out of love. You don’t like your job because it’s not exciting any more. You don’t like being healthy because it’s not as much fun as being unhealthy. And if you believe the myth of passion, that it cannot be intentionally cultivated, then you’re pretty much stuck. The two choices for you are to either suck it up and stick it out, or to escape into something else – another relationship, job or lifestyle that to you seems to hold more of that excitement.

And so the cycle goes.

But this is a myth. Passion is not something that just hits you like a sudden stomach attack from food poisoning. It can be fueled and cultivated if some intentionality is brought to bear in each of those situations and a host of others.

Buying into the myth of passion is the easy way out. It takes no effort; it certainly takes no faith. All it takes is a good set of legs that can carry us far, far away from that which we deem as being boring or mundane. But cultivating passion requires much of us whether in exercise, marriage, or work. Paul described this kind of intentionality to his protege Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:6 as “fanning into flame the gift of God.” Now in that context, the gift of God Paul is describing is Timothy’s pastoral ministry and his call to preach the Word. But notice that this is a command to Timothy; it’s something he takes an active role in.

Paul didn’t tell his son in the faith to “wait around until that little spark inside you grows to be big.” Instead, Paul knew that it would take intentionality in order to see what God had planted inside Timothy to grow. Anyone whose ever built a fire knows this is true.

I’ve built a few fires in our fire pit in the backyard myself, and I’m slowly getting better at it. What I’ve learned is that it takes work to get one going. I’m not the Survivor Man so I don’t built fires with the fillings from my teeth and a piece of flint; I use a lighter and newspaper. But even so, you’ve got to do some stuff to get a flame going.

The point is that our tendency in life, whenever things get monotonous and routine is to look for the easy way out. We don’t want to bring any intentionality to fan that passion into flame; we’d rather find a flame that’s already going and simply move ourselves over next to it. So we leave our marriages. We look for a church that’s more exciting. We abandon our friendships. We escape, and we do so quickly.

If the myth of passion is that it can’t be changed, cultivated or grown, the truth of passion is that it is fueled by action, and that action is driven by faith. We believe certain things to be true about the nature of life and all these elements inside it. We believe marriage is a mirror of the gospel. We believe we are to show forth God’s parenthood in the way we raise our sons and daughters. We believe work is the way God is showing His common grace to the world. We believe our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. These beliefs, if they really are beliefs, require action, so that action is pushed out into the common, everyday areas of life.

And slowly, but surely, as faith drives that action, we see a small spark and a little bit of smoke start to come from that bundle of twigs…

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Published on October 06, 2016 04:30 • 1 view

October 5, 2016

Here are a few links to some things you might have missed, or at least ones that caught my attention this past week:

1. Find a Friend to Wound You

“The wounds of a friend can be trusted” (Proverbs 27:6). And the opposite is also true – safe friends are dangerous.

2. Why America Burned Spurgeon’s Sermons

“If the Pharisaical author should ever show himself in these parts, we trust that a stout cord may speedily find its way around his eloquent throat,” says a real article from the time.

3. You Are What You Sing

Melodies carry words. Words carry theology. And theology is what is shaping our souls. Tread carefully, then.

4. The Gospel Past and the Gospel Future Make Your Gospel Present

Remember what God has done. Look forward to what He will do. And be empowered to live in the present.

5. The Plush Dorm of the Kansas Jayhawks

I don’t remember college being like this.

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Published on October 05, 2016 06:15 • 1 view

October 4, 2016

Words are powerful things.

I can remember, with startling clarity, specific sentences that people said to me decades ago. Some of those were positive; some were negative. And in each case, I can recall not just the words, but the tone. The diction. The facial expression. And, then ultimately, how those words made me feel.

What makes them more powerful is the source from which they come. Kind words, though they might produce a nice feeling, are likely not to mean nearly as much coming to you from a mere acquaintance as they would coming from someone you immensely respect and admire. Hurtful criticism doesn’t sting as much from the person you barely know as the one you thought you could trust.

Bring all that together, and it’s a powerful reminder that we, as parents, have a tremendously powerful weapon in our children’s lives. This weapon, to be used for good or ill, is our voice. Our spoken words. With that in mind, here are five statements your child probably could do with hearing from you today:

1. “I like you.”

This is a very, very different statement than, “I love you.” I don’t mean to devalue the statement of love, but I do think that a genuine enjoyment of our children is important to express. There are all kinds of people that we might love, or at least claim to love, and yet make no effort to be around. That’s simply because we don’t enjoy their company. There may not be any statement more powerful to fill a child with confidence in their own individual personality than the honest enjoyment of his or her parents.

When we say, “I like you,” to our children, we are following the example of our Heavenly Father. Many of us need to feel the freedom that comes in knowing that God is not a Father who simply puts up with us, but one that really, truly, honestly, genuinely likes us: “He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will bring you quietness with His love. He will delight in you with shouts of joy” (Zephaniah 3:17).

2. “You are my child.”

Security. Safety. Stability. These are important things in the life of a child (and in the life of an adult, for that matter). Our kids need to hear from us verbally that they belong to us. They are our children. And nothing will ever change that. When we make this claim, verbally, loudly, and even publicly, our kids know that we are not ashamed to lay claim to them.

Gratefully, neither is the Lord. We are His children, and He is not ashamed to call us His own. No matter what else happens in life, no matter how many times and how many ways we might be rejected, we are secure in God’s claim over us. Indeed, this is one of the reasons why God has sent His Spirit to dwell in us – to remind us that we are His: “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:15-16).

3. “I’m proud of you.”

Oh, what a glorious thing to hear! To know that you are valued and appreciated, especially by someone that you love. While the words, “You are my child” speaks deeply to our identity, these words speak deeply to the way we are living and moving in the world. Our children should know, as they continue to grow in godliness and faith, that we are proud parents. That we do not look longingly at other children with different personalities and different gifts. That these are our children, treasured gifts given to us from God.

And what a thing it is to hear this from on high. What a thing to be adopted into God’s family, co-heirs with Christ. What a thing to be counted righteous in Him. What a thing to know that God has not made a mistake either when He formed us, or when He called us into His family. What a thing to hear, because of the gospel, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased!” (Matthew 3:17).

4. “I will come get you.”

Our kids should hear this as well. They should know that if they ever find themselves in a place or situation in which they are uncomfortable, if they should ever wander far from where they ought to be, if they should ever go through a season in which they stray far from faith and home, that we will come get them. We will cross the distance and pay the price to do so, for these are our children.

And this is what the Lord says to us. We were, at one time or another, all those kids who went off into the far country. We were those were like lost coins. We were those who were like lost sheep. But the Lord did not shout His pleas from heaven to come home – He came and got us: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

5. “The Lord loves you more.”

This is true. It is a false statement for us to tell our children that we love them more than anyone else, for the Lord loves them even more still. He wants even more good for them. He is more committed to their growth and maturity. He is the only One who, not only loves them, but can ultimately, faithfully, and eternally act on their behalf.

We love our children. That’s why we say these things. Gloriously, though, God loves them more.

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Published on October 04, 2016 04:30 • 1 view

October 3, 2016

“I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength” (Ephesians 1:18-19).

This is part of Paul’s opening prayer for the church at Ephesus. He wanted these Christians to have their minds expanded and their eyes opened to their hope, their identity, and to power. Big power. Immeasurable power. For the Christian.

But here is where we run into an issue, because when we look around at ourselves, as Christians, it seems that many of us don’t operate in a powerful way. I’ve heard before an illustration used to try and explain this phenomenon, and it involves the electric company and a household appliance. It does like this:

You go into your home right now and you will find electrical outlets in every room. The house itself doesn’t provide the power; that’s from an external source. The electric company is responsible for generating and providing all that electricity; the outlets are merely the access points. It is our job, as the dwellers in the home, to access the power that has been made available to us.

I understand the point of the illustration. It’s meant to communicate that all the power of the universe is available to us as Christians; indeed, it’s the same power that raised Christ from the dead. But just because that power is available doesn’t mean that it’s appropriated; just because the power is accessible doesn’t mean that it’s accessed. So, Christian, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can gin up some power on your own. Instead, get plugged into the outlet so you can get power from the source.

It’s a fine point. But here’s where the illustration breaks down. The electric company is a neutral power provider. That company has no vested interest in what you plug into the outlet, or what you use that power for. They don’t care if it’s a refrigerator, a television, a Food Ninja, or a whatever. They only provide the power.

God is not some kind of ambiguous, neutral power provider. He does not give the Christian autonomy to decide how much power to use and self-determine what it’s used for. Instead, God is on the same mission He’s been on from the beginning – that is, a mission of rescue and redemption of people from every tribe, tongue, nation, and people. And this is what His power is for. It’s for the completing of His mission in and through us.

Be careful, then, Christian. Do not think of the power of God as simply available for your use to your own ends. Rather, understand the greatness of this power, and love the mission for which it has been given. Trust in the power of God and surrender to the mission of God.

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Published on October 03, 2016 04:30 • 1 view

September 30, 2016

by Rob Tims

It had been sitting out for about 20 or 30 minutes.

By “it” I mean the much-beloved frozen vanilla yogurt.

I don’t know how they manage it … I probably don’t want to know … but somehow the folks at Mayfield make frozen yogurt in such a way that it is very soft and smooth to spoon out of the container, yet firm and stiff at the same time.

So, when it’s been sitting out for 20-30 minutes, it takes on the consistency of Chick Fil-A’s ice dream: still delicious to eat, but questionable for refreezing.

I know precisely how this happened. The boys had dessert that night, and the last one to indulge left out the tub in a hurry to enjoy this delectable frozen delight. They had faithfully done the dishes, cleaned the kitchen, cleaned their bodies, and dressed for bed in time to enjoy a Star Trek rerun, which they were doing when I found the tub of love.

With their mother resting upstairs and the babies fast asleep, I had a choice to make other than whether to throw away the yogurt or refreeze it: do I cover for my son’s transgression, or do I accuse him of doing wrong?

He’s clearly done wrong. He deserves to be punished for it some way (no dessert for a week, pay for a tub of yogurt from his own money, etc.). It would be right in one sense to stop the video, accuse him of his wrong, and have him act to rectify the situation as best he could.

Or I could cover for him. I could look upon his blunder as an opportunity for grace to act. I could snag a mostly-melted scoop for myself, replace the lid and place the tub back in the freezer without a word.

It was one of the moments where it was so reaffirming to believe the gospel.

Satan accuses, but Jesus covers.

The Law condemns, but Jesus sets free.

So I chose to cover.

And I can’t decide which I loved more: the dessert, or the satisfaction of knowing that I covered for my son and got preached at simultaneously.

Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.

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Published on September 30, 2016 04:30 • 1 view

September 29, 2016

Jesus is the master of the twist ending. Or maybe more accurately, He is the master of the twist protagonist.

One of the most intriguing parts of Jesus’ story-telling is when He points to a character in His parables that is intentionally surprising. Even shocking. You particularly find this on display in the Book of Luke.

Take, for example, the parable of the persistent widow. Here is a story meant to illustrate the need for perseverance in prayer in which Jesus uses not only a woman, someone thought much less of in that culture, but also a widow, someone who had virtually no rights in that culture. He does the same thing in Luke 15 with another woman, this one turning over her whole household to find a lost coin, all to illustrate the pursuing nature of God for those He loves. Then back in Luke 18, Jesus tells another story of a tax collector, a position generally regarded as the worst kind of traitor to his own people, who exemplified the kind of humility God finds pleasing.

All these people were the most unlikely of protagonists. From their very mention, they caused the audience to rock back on their heels a bit, They countered the prejudice and preconceived notions of self-righteousness in the audience. And they cause us all, still today, to step back and consider the heart of the matter rather than mere appearance.

Such is the case with the parable of the Good Samaritan. The parable was spawned by two questions, and the question was spawned by a heart desiring to do the least amount necessary and still be “all good”:

Just then an expert in the law stood up to test Him, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the law?” He asked him. “How do you read it?”

He answered: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

 “You’ve answered correctly,” He told him. “Do this and you will live.”

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:25-29).

Jesus, the great knower of hearts, launches into a story with the most unexpected of heroes. A half-breed. A throw away kind of person. An unclean untouchable. The kind of people you would specifically go out of the way just so you didn’t have to even pass through the country they occupied. He was the one, according to the story, that the followers of Jesus should emulate.

While the original audience might have recoiled at the idea of a Samaritan being the protagonist, we as modern day, sophisticated, and analytical Christ-followers recoil for another reason – the command from Jesus that closes the story: “Go and do likewise.”

Wait a second – go and do likewise? Where is the faith? Where is the gospel? Where is the believing, for here Jesus’ command is not that, but instead, an action? So we recoil and busy ourselves at the dissection of this teaching. But perhaps Jesus actually meant for us to go and do likewise – actually to go and do likewise. Here are three reasons why we should:

1. Because Jesus said so.

It’s happened before in our home when I, with my fatherly authority, will tell one of the kids to do something. But these kids are getting older, and they’re getting smarter, and so rather than going and doing what I said, they will begin to parse out every syllable and try and find every loophole, each moment passing asking another question to dig further into what I really meant or really said. And then I tell them to again, just to go put their shoes away.

I know it’s simplistic, but this is a command of Jesus. And with Jesus’ commands comes His authority. So the first and perhaps best reason for us to show the kind of mercy to others that the Samaritan in Jesus’ story displayed is because Jesus actually and really said it should be so.

2. To combat spiritual intellectualism.

The plain truth of my own spiritual life is that my knowledge well out paces my obedience. It’s truly ironic how much time I spend wondering about the will of God, all the while having more than enough of God’s revealed will right in front of me to walk in. This is symptomatic of the fact that I have the tendency for my faith to turn into intellectualism, with all the work spent in the classroom and none of the work spent on the street. But when I go and do likewise, I am taking an active stand against this intellectual obesity. I am exercising my faith in Jesus, who means what He says and says what He means.

3. To experience the gospel… again.

It’s not that Jesus forgot the gospel in these verses; far from it in fact. Jesus knows who he’s talking to. He knows the man in front of him is looking to get by doing only the minimum, and He also knows that this man’s heart needs to be exposed to himself. So what if that man, who loves to ask questions and probe for nuance, actually does what Jesus tells him to do? What if he does go and show the kind of sacrificial and extravagant mercy of the Samaritan? He will no doubt find it to be a terrible experience. He will find that he does not have the mercy inside him he needs to show, and every step and every coin will be with anger. This is what I experience when I go and do likewise. I am reminded of my own sinfulness, and then am forced to reckon the fact that Jesus was the Samaritan on the road for me. He was the One who did for me what I now do for others. I experience the gospel, as I ask for Jesus’ forgiveness for my lack of mercy, and experience it again as I remember His for me.

Go and do likewise. Do it today. And find a Jesus with authority and with mercy waiting on the road for you.

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Published on September 29, 2016 04:30 • 1 view