Applications


Knowing and Weeping

The details of Jesus’ life between Palm Sunday and Easter have been of particular interest to me over the years. Luke paints a contrasting picture between the palm-waving entry and Jesus’ tears of reality as He thinks about Jerusalem’s attitude toward Him. He knew the palms didn’t mean much. They really had rejected Him. They had hardened their hearts. They refused to hear! And He knew what sorrows lay ahead for them because of that. In less that forty years, the Romans would destroy the city, tearing it down rock by rock. He weeps as he predicts this judgment to come (Luke 18:41-44).

Often we have something to cry about. A friend’s failing marriage, perhaps. Cancer reoccurance. .Hearing that one in four teens have some kind of sexual disease to pass on to others. Or that our leaders still muck around with whomever and we have to hear the details on the evening news.

They could have known “the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” What things? As Paul would later explain, we have peace and hope only by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1-2). This was nothing new to the residents of Jerusalem. They knew the story of Abraham’s belief in God’s promise and how his faith was counted as righteousness. And now, Jesus had just raised Lazarus from death a couple of weeks earlier as a public demonstration of His power and claims. He was continuing to say He was the promised Savior and would be killed for our trespasses and raised for our right standing with God. In explaining this hardened unbelief, Paul quotes Isaiah’s prediction of a “spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear” (Romans 11:8). Hidden truths, blind eyes, deaf ears….

We can’t know or predict in the same way Jesus did.  Our knowing is limited; we don’t always know the whys. But, notice Jesus wipes His tears, then calls for the temple to be a house of prayer and continued proclaiming the good news of salvation each day (Luke 19:45-20:1). That is what we need to be doing too. So wipe away your tears, and keep on praying and telling others why you have hope. Jesus is alive! The Holy Spirit is with us.

Essential or Non-Essential?

Have you noticed how draining political discussions can become after awhile? I’m tired of the presidential election already and we’ve got miles to go. Any continued controversy is like that, whether in a marriage, a business partnership, or, really, any relationship. Once the opinions are clear and the positions are set, it is detrimental to keep on hackling over it. I speak from experience!

Romans 7 is like that in Christian circles. The debate always gets back to “Who is the man in Romans 7?” Was it Paul’s experience as a non-Christian or as a Christian or somewhere in between? Then, as the debate heats up, the main point of the passage is totally overlooked, and we are tired of the whole thing.

I bring this up to show how “non-essential” this debate is. What are the main points of the passage? The discussion ought to be about the power and strength of sin, and how we’ve been set free from feeling like a slave to either sin or the law once we are “in Christ.” Or about how the function of the law is to show us our sin and our need of a Savior. A third main point is about how the law has its limits: it cannot save us nor sanctify us no matter how “moral” we think ourselves. Or we could talk about how Romans 7-8:4 is a cure for any spiritual depression we might slip into. Matters like these are essential, don’t you see?

That is why I bring this up. Thinking our way through the Bible requires making decisions about essentials. Enjoy your liberty to hold onto your view of which spiritual realm Paul was in at the time. Then we can focus on what really counts like, “There is, therefore, now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus!” That is a wonderful essential we can agree upon.

One who is totally safe in her personal relationship with God is not captive to the sin within. She flourishes in her liberty, allowing her to grant that liberty to others. She knows how to use the law to expose her own wrong thinking or actions. She is, then, not going to stay long in spiritual depression. Now these are things worth discussing!

“Unity in essentials; Liberty in non-essentials; Charity in all virtues.”