Look Alike

As we continue in our new teaching series, Standing Firm, this week we’re talking about what to do once we have set ourselves firmly on the foundation of our hope in Christ. If we are going to claim such a foundation for ourselves, there should be some pretty profound implications that has for our life. What those implications are is what Peter explores in the next section of his letter. Thanks for joining me in thinking through these.

Look Alike

I am sitting down right now. What’s wrong with that statement? Well, perhaps most notably…it’s not true. My words and my actions don’t line up. We naturally expect there to be a connection—a rather direct one at that—between what someone says and what someone does. In fact, the whole of human society is rooted in that belief. When there is a disconnect here, everything is more difficult than it otherwise would be. For instance, think about what might happen if you went to the store and didn’t believe there was a connection between the words of the manager expressed in the price tags on various items and the action of the items’ actual cost. What would you do? It’s easy to simply say you wouldn’t buy it, but what if this was a jug of milk and you had a hungry little one at home? Now things are more complicated. You might try and barter the manager down to the price you believe it should really have. But what if the manager doesn’t believe there is a connection between your words regarding the amount of money you are able and willing to pay and what you will actually give him when the time comes? Now you’re thinking about how you can steal the milk because you have a baby to feed and he’s thinking about how he can protect his product. We’re starting to have a real mess on our hands, aren’t we?

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Morning Musing: Mark 11:27-30

“They came again to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came and asked him, ‘By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do these things?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I will ask you one question; then answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was John’s baptism from heaven or of human origin? Answer me.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Hypocrisy is something we see all too often today. Especially in our politics. It’s enough to make people cynical. Supporters of one candidate or another are willing to excuse even the most egregious behavior when their side does it, but rail long and loud about the character flaws of the other side when the fault is discovered on the other side of the line. A prominent Democrat politician recently referred to people with a mental handicap as “retarded.” A major media outlet merely tweeted a gentle chiding that he had used an “outmoded” word and that was the end of the issue. Let there be no doubt that if a prominent Republican politician had done the same thing there would have been immediate calls for his resignation from the same media outlet because of his obvious inability to care about the people he serves. At the same time, the position of evangelical Christians on whether or not sexual misdeeds should disqualify someone from public office did a complete 180 degree shift when they needed to justify their support for Trump’s presidency from where it had been during Clinton’s tenure. As disgusting as this rank duplicity is, there is nothing new under the sun. It met Jesus as soon as he walked into the temple. Let’s talk about how He dealt with it.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 7:8-9

“‘Abandoning the command of God, you hold on to human tradition.’ He also said to them, ‘You have a fine way of invalidating God’s command in order to set up your tradition!'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We have an innate sense that we’re not enough on our own. We constantly seek out the authority of someone we deem higher than ourselves in order to give cover and justification to what we are doing. Today people tend to seek out the authority of a politician or a political movement to gain the justification they seek. In the past, God was the more likely target for such reaching. At the same time, however, we have an innate desire to be our own authority. We want to do what we want, when we want, how we want, and so on. What we want, though, doesn’t always accord with what we or the culture around us feels like we should do. We need that layer of external authority to give us cover. So, we take that authority, throw it over ourselves like a blanket, and keep doing what we want. The Pharisees were doing this and Jesus didn’t like it.

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Morning Musing: 1 Corinthians 9:26-27

“So I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

No one likes a hypocrite. There’s just something inherently wrong, evil even, about someone who actively seeks to convince those around him to do one thing while personally doing something else. It makes our skin crawl and gets our justice hackles raised higher and faster than just about anything else in the world. Sometimes hypocrites knowingly embrace their hypocrisy because of the personal gains it allows them to enjoy. Sometimes, though, we can fall into hypocrisy without realizing it. For all of its lack of intentionality, though, that can be the most dangerous hypocrisy there is. It’s also what Paul warns against here. Let’s talk about it.

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Morning Musing: 1 John 1:6

“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”‬‬ (ESV – Read the chapter

Sometimes you come across something in the Scriptures that, if you think about it very hard, can make you break out in a cold sweat. It doesn’t happen so often as to make you read with armor on, but you’ve still got to watch out for it. This is one of those places. 

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