Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Choosing our direction

Now when He had spoken, a Pharisee asked Him to have lunch with him; and He went in, and reclined at the table.

Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering." When He left there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile and to question Him closely on many subjects, plotting against Him to catch Him in something He might say. (Luke 11:37, 52-54 NASB)

The trouble started in the most innocent of ways. Jesus had spoken to a crowd. One of the Pharisees was present and invited Jesus to have lunch with him. At that time, Jesus was wildly popular, gathering huge crowds everywhere He went. Having Jesus to lunch was a little like winning a prize, I imagine, and the Pharisee invited some of his friends to join him and meet Jesus.

From the start, there was conflict. The Pharisees were unhappy that Jesus did not obey the laws about ritual cleansing before meals. Jesus quickly explained that there was a difference between cleaning the outside of our bodies and allowing God to cleanse our hearts. The Pharisees had been so intent on obeying the rules of law (especially the manmade ones) that they had missed the Spirit of the law. They were like dead men walking, leaving the odor of death everywhere they went.

The lawyers present quickly complained. "You're talking about us, too." Jesus agreed. Yes, He was talking about them, too. The lawyers not only weighed people down with unnecessary rules that they did not follow themselves, but they had the key of knowledge that could have unlocked the kingdom of God. They had studied the Scriptures since childhood, knew the Messianic prophecies, yet refused to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. They actively prevented anyone else from knowing Him.

After Jesus left the luncheon, the Pharisees and lawyers began to be hostile. The wording implies that they weren't hostile while He was present. After He left, the enemy found a foothold and stirred up trouble. They seethed about the confrontation with Jesus, simmering like a pot of soup. Seething led to plotting. Plotting led to schemes, then, eventually, to murder. 

When God confronts us with our sin, we have two options. We can embrace His truth and allow Him to cleanse and change us or we can respond as the Pharisees did, with hostility and anger. Neither response is the end, however. When we respond with hostility and anger, rather than allowing Him to change us, it is only the beginning. Anger begets action. Action birthed in such inauspicious beginnings is never good, and it will take us places we never wanted to go. 

Our other option, the one I want to choose, is to embrace His truth and allow Him to change the broken parts of us. That response is not the end, either. When we allow God to change us, He makes us into something better. Someone more like Christ. That change, too, can allow Him to do things with us that we never imagined. 

Every day, we stand at a decision point that will bring us closer to Jesus or take us further away. We need to keep our goal in sight. If what we want is to spend eternity with our Savior, our goal should be to steadily draw closer to Him. Every decision we make should be made with that goal in mind, especially when our own sin is concerned. 

Let's do what the Pharisee did. Invite Christ to spend some time with us today so we can get to know Him better. If He shows us something about ourselves that we didn't want to know, (and He almost certainly will) let's embrace His truth and allow Him to make us what He meant us to be, then allow Him to do more than we ever imagined with our lives.