Justified Journal

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Category: Guilt

Guilt by association

The other day, I was questioned on why I felt the freedom to see a particular movie.  As part of the premise of the questioning, the person mentioned a saying that is common among the people that attend her church; “Would you watch this if Jesus was sitting next to you?”

First of all, the goal of the question is to motivate by guilt manipulation.  If you are in a church where people talk like this, roll your eyes, grab your keys and go home; never go (or look) back.  Only two people live in this church setting, the manipulators and the victims.  I know for a fact that God has NOT called you to this church.

Secondly, Jesus sees everything you do, everything you see, every thought you think and He sees the same for the rest of this fallen creation.  Even more to the point … He has become that sin so that the Father could pour His wrath upon this Only-begotten Son.  Jesus isn’t a puritan, He was the toilet brush for our sin, and is now the God who reigns over all creation.

Thirdly, the movie I was going to watch had an “R” rating, but I am a big-boy, in my forties, and I don’t need mommy to tell me good and bad.  The movie is about a battle over good and evil where good wins.  This is called justice, and all Christians should be reminded of the final end for evil in watching it.

Fourthly, God doesn’t exactly hate violence.  Marshmallow bunny rabbits weren’t poured out on the enemies of Israel.   Nerf balls weren’t lobbed at the broken body of Jesus.  And in the end, God’s ultimate Justice on Satan and his minions will include a war like no other, and we will witness it (read Revelation).

I understand that watching empty violence is objectionable.  I don’t watch it, but neither do I go to Will Farrell movies.  To imagine that our God is some prudish mid-western grandma is to castrate God.

And by the way, God doesn’t do guilt.  Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Going to bat for a friend

Mark 2:
1And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7“Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Some people have a lot of friends, and some have only a few.  The question is, how many are willing to do anything for you?  The men in the story above ripped through a roof to get their friend healed by Jesus.  What an effort!

First, they had to carry him over to the house Jesus was at.  Then they had to get him on the roof.  Next, they had to tear open a hole big enough to let this man through (I guess they never learned about respecting their neighbors’ property 😉 ).  Then, they lowered him down on ropes in front of Jesus.
Their actions were a demonstration that they believed Jesus had the ability to heal their friend.

There are times in our lives when we have lost hope, confidence, or feel depressed.  The best friends are the one who are able to re-orient your mind by saying something to you that addresses your need perfectly.
Maybe, they surprise you with a thought that you hadn’t considered before.  It turns your perception of reality upside down.  You cannot help but smile to think of it.  Your load has been lightened, no, it has been taken away.

These men probably tried everything to get their friend healed.  They probably talked with him and encouraged him.

But, the words he and his friends really wanted to hear were, “You are healed”.
Instead, Jesus interrupts their thinking pattern.  He addresses a totally different issue.  He tells this paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven”.  In one phrase, Jesus declares Himself to be God, declares the man to be a son of the kingdom of God, and declares this man is forgiven and will be in heaven on the last day.
That wasn’t what anyone expected.  Some were offended.  Some were amazed.  God’s forgiveness is the greatest healing.  It is the healing of the soul.  It is resurrection from the dead.  It is the guarantee of eternal life with Him.

But, Jesus didn’t stop there.  The minor issue was this man’s healing.  And Jesus does this by command for action.  The man walks away, healed. Twice.

We need continual forgiveness for sin.  One of the sweetest things we can hear is the pastor declaring, “I, as a called and ordained servant of Christ, forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit …”

How can Jesus forgive sins?  How is this possible?

Jesus did more than go to bat for us.  Jesus went to another piece of wood and was crucified on it for us.  Jesus gave His own life to declare to you now, “Son, Daughter, your sins are forgiven”

In His name, Amen.

Jesus is the Gospel

The gospel is not:  a decision to receive, believe, retrieve your own personal Jesus.

The gospel is not: making Him Lord, re-dedicating your life, saying a “sinner’s prayer”

In fact, the Gospel is completely outside of your (or my) activity.

The Gospel is ALL God’s activity through Jesus Christ.

What is ‘Gospel’?  It means ‘Good News’.

It is Jesus dying on the cross for your sin and my sin, and being raised in resurrection, so we can have the gift of resurrection in Him.

What’s the bad news?

First, the world is fallen and it can’t get up

Second, the devil is a fallen angel, not an archaic, pre-logical myth

Third, we have fallen into our coffin, and are bound to a horrible eternal end unless there’s an intervention

In other words, the situation is hopeless.

God loves hopeless situations.

God loves hopeless sinners.

Because Jesus was given as a sacrifice for sin.  He came to seek and save that which was lost.  Jesus came for sinners (including me).

And, He continues to be the good news for us.

When we confess our sin (not a feeling), He is faithful and just to forgive us based on His bloody death.

When we have doubt (by the way, doubt means you have faith to begin with), He remains faithful as a priest before the Father in Heaven.

When we are hungry for good news, we can find it in the promise that God has sent a deliverer in Jesus.  He hasn’t come for “good people”, but for those who have no hope in themselves.

He is hope fulfilled.  Both now and forever.  Amen.

Longing for righteousness

A man goes to see a psychiatrist.  He tells the psychiatrist his problem; “Dr., sometimes I think I am a wigwam, but sometimes I think I am a teepee.”  The psychiatrist smiles and says to the man, “Relax, you’re two tents!”

Sometimes, I feel like this poor patient.  I’ll  admit it’s hard for me to harmonize the fact that I have been made completely and totally righteous by the work of Christ, yet I am not righteous in my every day life.  That is, I try to be a good husband, father, son, citizen, worker and friend, but I find myself falling far short of this.

I want to have more patience and understanding with my family.  I want to honor and respect them properly.  I want to be like Christ.  But, I’m not.

This is not to say that I don’t try.  I think I do an o.k. job of filling these various roles.    And, sometimes, being called righteous by God through Jesus creates a greater sense that I am not righteous.

But, I long to be righteous; truly.

It is the tension of being simultaneously justified and yet a sinner.  Psychology is not enough to fix this kind of broken.  I need a crucifixion and a re-birth.  I want it.  I want Christ to claim me as His project and make me like Him.  Not for self-glory, but that others might be given free grace, mercy and love that their lives would be touched by Jesus through my hands and my words.

I want my daughters to look back on their lives when they are older and bless God for their dad.

Paul writes about righteousness in Romans 10, referring to Deuteronomy 30:

5For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. 6But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, ‘WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), 7or ‘WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” 8But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”

The above seems like an “if-then” statement.  And, it is.  However, what’s important here is to note that belief is the result of hearing the proclamation of the word.  That “word” is Jesus Christ (see John chapter 1) and Him crucified.

It is also hearing the words of institution as the communion bread and wine is consecrated.  It is hearing the “snap” of the wafer to remember that Christ’s body was broken for all of your and my sin.  It is the hearing of  “the blood of Jesus poured out for the remission of all  of your sins”.  It is hearing the water poured over the infant’s head as the pastor says, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit”.

Righteousness, true righteousness is not produced out of following dictates like do not handle, do not touch, do not taste.  Instead, God tells us that we are truly righteous because of Jesus Christ’s righteous living and righteous dying for us.

And, as Paul writes, “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6).

Please Lord, be faithful to this promise to make us righteous through word and sacrament to the glory of your name, Amen.


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