Tuesday, April 26, 2011
We should never go past the cross but deeper into it. For the past several years, I've made it a goal not to just think about the cross at Easter, but meditate on the cross daily. I've read Matthew 26-28 countless times, but what I love about Scripture is that God continues to teach us more and more as we pray and read. One of the aspects of the crucifixion that caught my eye this year is recorded in Matthew 27:39-44. Matthew records that those passing by the crucifixion "derided" Jesus, he records that the religious leaders "mocked" Jesus, and he records that the robbers crucified on either side of Jesus "also reviled him in the same way." As I said, I've read these verses too many times to count. What gripped my heart this year was how Jesus refused to let their comments tempt Him away from living in submission to the Father's plan. At any point, He could have come down and vindicated Himself, but we would have all perished in our sin. The religious leaders were trying to tempt Jesus with the same thing the Devil did: worship without a cross. Too often when I am wronged, my "fleshly" desire is to vindicate myself. When someone speaks disparagingly of me, there is a desire to prove them wrong. I'm so thankful that Christ understood His substitutionary atonement and resurrection would be vindication enough. His exaltation to the right hand of the Father is unquestionable vindication. As I meditate on these verses this year, I ponder anew how the Gospel sets me free from self vindication. Because of Christ in me, self can (and needs to) decrease. I'm so thankful for Christ's obedience and Christ is my only hope for obedience and denial of self.
Friday, April 15, 2011
I wrestled with the title of this post, but the one I've chosen gets right to the issue. One of our local sports radio stations routinely reminds their listeners: "Need a break from work? Check out the babe of the day." The announcer then provides the web address and has sometimes "teased" a little further to say they also have the "Thong of the Day." While I am thankful to live in a country where freedom of speech (and somtimes ignorance) is allowed, we would do well to remember that legality and Godliness are not always equated. Paul dealt with a similar issue in 1 Cor. 6, when the men of the church wanted to use their "freedom" to engage sexually with temple prostitutes. Paul strongly reminded the Corinthian church that just because something is permissible does not make it beneficial. For instance, you are "free" to have bad breath, but it will most likely not benefit you or those around you. You are also "free" to have a unibrow, but the majority of those around you most likely prefer two instead of one. With regard to our local radio station, we live in a country where we can "freely" look at things on the Internet, but in this case there are no benefits. Here are two particular reasons: 1. This radio station is not doing these men any favors. Looking at the "babe of the day" will not build your marriage, but destroy it. Anything that works against our marriage should be viewed as an enemy. 2. This radio station is not doing these women any favors. To display the pictures of these women, does nothing to build these ladies up, rather it promotes them as being objects to be had instead. It causes the "beauty" of the women to be the "end" rather than the means to a greater end of seeing the beauty of the One who has created all. Paul's passionate plea in 1 Cor. 6 is that the substitutionary atonement of Christ should make a difference in what we do with our bodies. Our bodies are not just molecules and moles, they are the very dwelling place of God. Paul's parting shot: So glorify God in your body. Don't be fooled by the seemingly harmless radio commercial. The "peek" is not worth what it costs. By the Spirit, put to death the deeds of the flesh and you will live (Rom. 8:13). So maybe we could run this radio spot: "Need a break from work? Read the Word," so that you might love your wife deeply and lead your children well. You were not created just to satisfy urges, but for the glory of God.