09 January 2009

Lord of Glory

James 2:1 (Part-I)

1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.

Jesus has many names. Savior, The Christ, Messiah, Son of God, Prince of Peace, and we can go on and on. But have you ever considered, the Lord of Glory?

In this context the word glory is defined as, “of the state of blessedness into which believers are to enter hereafter through being brought into the likeness of Christ.[1]” The Lord of Glory is the one that rules over access to this hereafter of eternity. In this case it is literally the One. This is not the only place where this message can be found. Rom 8:18, 21; Phl 3:21 (RV, "the body of His glory"); 1Pe 5:1, 10; Rev 21:11; all have things to say on this subject. The musical group Third Day does a song called “King of Glory”, and this is almost certainly the reason.

All glory is His. He dispenses it as He sees fit. But one thing that we must not forget is that He has promised us that if we choose to accept Him as our Savior, that this glory is guaranteed to us! A promise is a promise.

Especially after the Christmas season, we see Jesus so much as the man. Being born to a sinful woman, laid in a manger, worshipped and yet despised. We think of His childhood, and the time He spent teaching in the Temple when he was only 12 years old. We also think of Him as the deity that dies on the cross for us. Making the perfect atoning sacrifice for you and I. We then see Him in our minds eye as the risen lamb, showing His scars and body of flesh to the disciples. But do we look upon this great friend, this man who loves us greater than any living human ever could, as the Judge? As the man who controls ‘glory’?

The Lord of Glory deserves our love, this is for sure. But perhaps our love is best shown to Him by revering Him for the Glory that He owns and controls. Honor and respect are perhaps the greatest flattery one can bestow upon another. Honoring and respecting Jesus includes making Him first in our life, our decision making, obeying His commands and following His example. The Lord of Glory is also the Lord of the Promise. He not only deserves our respect, He has earned it.

Partiality Revealed

James 2:1 (Part-II)

1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.

As a young high-schooler I often found myself in defense of those kids in the school that seemed to always get picked on. It’s not like I was a sucker for the hard-luck case necessarily, but for those kids who were slow minded, poor, or for what ever reason just did not fit in with the world of the average school kid, it seemed like I was always there to defend them.

I was thinking about this the other day, and it came to me after reading this passage and applying it to that situation that there was a reason for it. It’s not that I was just in the right place at the right time so often. And at the time, I was not a believer, so it was not like these were known spirit lead incidents; but their was an innate drive to defend these other kids. I was not looking for it, and nothing was really leading me in a vigilantly-style attack against the bullies, so why did it seem to happen so often then? It was simply that I saw so many of these incidents because my heart allowed me to, when so many others were blind to it.

I have always been a right is right, wrong is wrong kinda guy. Ask my wife, to a fault probably, I do not have any gray areas, although grace and mercy through the Spirit seem to me making a great deal of what used to be black and white a little more gray. I knew then that it was wrong to treat others in such a way. Back then though, my thought patterns only allowed me to see that because right was right, and wrong was wrong; everyone should be treated equally. But to look back now, with Spiritual hindsight and the grace of God’s mercy shading those visions, I now understand fully why it was right to feel like I did, and still do today.

Who are we, any of us, to treat others in any way, shape, form or fashion, less than ourselves, when we ourselves are, in the words of my good friend and mentor Justin Alfred, “less than the wart on the backside of a hog!”? In view of Christ, and His perfection we are all equal; equally poor and equally low. We are equally sinners and equally destined for hell if we do not seek Jesus and the salvation that He alone can provide as the Lord of Grace.

You see, as Christians, there are some things in our lives, that if we are sincerely dedicated to Jesus, that we have no choice but to do a certain way. This is one of those things. Kindness, love, grace, mercy, and in dealing with this specific verse, equality. Don’t feel badly if you did not overnight after accepting the Lord, become the model in this area. Be comforted to know that this is something that Paul recognized and grew in through time. He began his ministry as the least of the Apostles, and ended it as the chief of all sinners. When we, in humility, recognize who we are in Christ, defending those who need it, will come more naturally. Our vision will show us inequities, and our hearts ache when we do not see it. Having been captured by Christ, reaching out to others, showing no partiality, should become our way of life.

06 January 2009

Jesus in the Mirror

JAMES 1:23-25

23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

As the Lord leads me through the book of James with my family, He is so faithful to share with me new truths of Himself and new (to me) ways to be blessed by His Word.

We have heard often, and have been encouraged by many, including Pastor Chuck Smith not to be just hearers of the word, but doers of the word. This of course is very sound advise, and not something hard to understand - especially someone whom the Holy Spirit has convicted about doing more, or just being more diligent or more effective in what you are doing in the name of the Lord. Being a doer of the word is what James goes on to tell us is living out our faith, as faith without works is dead. But what I have found to be very helpful in allowing me to be more effective in the application of my faith is simply this: Remembering who I am, who Christ is, and where I fit in that equation.

When we look into the mirror, we need to see Jesus. What I mean by that is not that we perfectly reflect Jesus just as He was the perfect image of the Father, hardly possible, and more laughable than anything. But what I do mean is something that I can possibly better explain by sharing a story from my adolescence.

In Jr. High school back in western PA, I began to hang around with the wrong crowd. This group of kids, being a product of the late 70’s and early 80’s were categorized as ‘freaks’. In those days, you were a freak or a jock. Freaks were generalized as the delinquents. Drug takers, trouble makers and just plain “bad”. Jocks were generalized as clean cut, athletic, cheerleader-dating leaders of the community. I was neither, I was a farmer. But because we were relatively poor, I my dress categorized me as a freak, because the jocks looked and dressed a lot nicer than I was able. To make a long story short, one day I got into some trouble and tossed a cafeteria table down a flight of stairs during lunch just to hear the noise. Plus, it made me look ‘cool’ to all the freaks and the guys I was hanging out with at school. Well, I got caught, and in the process of explaining all of this to my Dad while sitting on a freshly warmed behind, my Dad shared this bit of wisdom. He told me, “Act as if I was always standing right beside you, and you’ll never get into trouble again.”

Dad was right. If we act as if the authority in our life is standing with us, if we live our lives looking into the mirror of our faith seeing Jesus as the authority, we will act differently.

And while Dad was so right in concept, the reality is so often different. The very next week, I got suspended from school for getting into a ‘fight’. The reality was that is was just a good friend of mine who put me in an innocent headlock and was giving me a Dutch-rub when the teacher walked in. We both received a three day suspension. BUT, if I had been acting as if my Dad were standing right there with me, and I projected that I lived my life like my Dad was always standing beside me, not only would I not have allowed my friend to give me the Dutch-rub, but my friend would not have done it, because I would have portrayed myself in such a fashion letting everyone know that I live a life bound under the authority of my Dad. In doing so, in my presence you would have seen my Dad. My actions would have been consistent as if my Dad were right there – and everyone would have known that. When you live a pious, humble life, people will see that – and respect that.
Observe your face in the mirror, and I pray you see Jesus working to show Himself to you. I pray that the understanding of who you are in Jesus causes you introspection upon your actions lifestyle so that reflect Jesus as your governing authority. And above all, I pray that when we leave our mirrors, that we always remember the vision of Jesus in our lives. This vision of one that loves you enough to die for you is one that should compel us to be doers of the word, and thereby be blessed.