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“Obey” Your Leaders?

Greetings,

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I believe that every member of The Body of Christ is a full and equal peer under ONLY Jesus.  I contend that all Christ followers are true siblings and that no believer ever has the “rule” over and above other believers.  Many in the traditional “church” believe in Ruling Elders and that only the Clergy are to be in charge over the church.  I say that ONLY Jesus is The Head, Ruler and true Shepherd of His Church.

It seems that most traditional “church” Pastors disagree with my stance on church leadership.  I mention these Pastors here because they often quote Hebrews 13: 17 as a validation of having humans rule over others in the church.  Today I want to take an honest look at that verse and determine what it might really mean to all of us in His Church.

We are going to look at several English translations of that particular verse. However, there is no real good substitute for the Greek.  I took over three years of Koine Greek in college, but that was over 30 years ago. Now with the Internet and computer tools we can all finally delve into real meanings that can be very eye opening. For example;

Hebrews 13:17a Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: – KJV

Hebrews 13:17a Obey your spiritual leaders and submit to them [continually recognizing their authority over you] – Amplified

Hebrews 13:17a Keep constantly obeying your rulers, and constantly be
submitting to them – Wuest

The Amplified and Wuest both do a better job bringing in the concept of
continuing action that is only implied in the KJV

However, translators that want to appease the King and Church (or today get endorsements that increase sales) do not want to “rock the traditional boat”.  King James would never endorse a translation that did not support hierarchy and “men” ruling over other “men”.  The King James translators were biased towards human leadership and rule in the church because they knew the King could have their heads if their words did not support Kings and Clergy.

Let us look at three Greek words that are prominent in this verse:

Peitho – persuasion
Hegeomai – chosen leader, guide
Hupeiko – military term to stop fighting after a loss

Then taking the Greek into full consideration the verse should read like this:

Hebrews 13:17a Stop resisting and allow yourself to be persuaded by
those you have chosen to follow.

Now that translation of the Greek seems to me, to better line up with what Jesus showed us about true leadership in the church.  It also comes more into line with what Paul taught about authority in the church.  This translation makes the whole concept of leadership more relational, as it should be.  Instead of being ruled and made to obey someone in a position of power over us, we instead have the freedom of choice to be persuaded by someone we want to follow because of the life we have seen them live before us.  This is not being commanded or told what to do by someone with a title or position.  This is us voluntarily wanting to follow someone we love, know and appreciate because we have a relationship with them.  In a free church submission is always voluntary and never forced.  We should never be forced to follow anyone’s lead, even if they are licensed, ordained and have a title that makes them sound important.  Jesus does not force us to follow Him, so why should we ever follow ANYone who tries to force us to submit, listen to and follow them because of position or title?  True submission occurs when we realize that someone has laid down their life for us and that they are acting in our best interest in any given situation.  It is always about relationship and never about power, manipulation and control.

In most traditional “churches” Leadership is always top heavy and always top down.  That is not the way that it should be among us followers of Jesus.  Jesus led by example as did Paul and others.  In the church it should never be about edicts or commands from those in recognized Leadership.  The two main things I always look for in someone I might follow are love and humility.  The reason I follow any peer is that I see that they are following Christ Jesus.  As Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”  A true leader does not seek to lead, no they seek to follow Christ alone.  Leadership, true leadership, is merely a quite simple by-product of following and abiding in Jesus.

Love and ……

Kirk Out !

P.s. Great news…the Dr’s fully examined Baby Primrose’s throat, lungs, windpipe, and vocal chords via scopes and they determined that Prim is in good health overall and not currently in need of surgery. They said her vocal chords are not fully developed, but they may continue to grow and heal on their own. She was discharged from the ICU and is in a normal room now. Thank you all for your prayers and concern. Custody issues have not yet been resolved or determined so we wait and hope we are cleared so we can actually go spend time with Primrose and cuddle her up.

Totally Free & Open, Spirit Led Fellowship

Greetings,

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4: 4-7

Some time ago in free and open fellowship, during prayer, The Spirit had me have this passage from Philippians ready to share.  Then not too long into the gathering a brother was sharing about how he was very anxious about a situation at his workplace.  It was the perfect opening for me to share the passage that God already led me to, and it was very well received.

Then another brother began sharing how as of late he had been drawn to the very same passage.  Another sister said that she too had been reading Philippians a lot lately.  That is what I just love about totally free & open, Spirit led fellowship.  No one planned anything or had an agenda, but The Spirit knew exactly how to lead us and all we had to do was surrender to His will.  It was amazing!  I have witnessed The Lord lead gatherings like this since 1976 and I have never once been disappointed.  God knows exactly how to lead us without the need of any liturgy, human plan, or agenda.  And the past 43 plus years I have been learning how to stay out of His way and allow Him to flow through each and every member as He sees fit.  We are not in need of any Pastor or human Leader to direct our meetings.  No, we just let go and let The Spirit of God flow as He desires in our midst.

Another thing that happened during this gathering was a brother expressing how he could not afford his blood sugar medication, so he was doing without.  Then another brother stepped right up and gave this brother all the cash that he had on him.  It was more than enough to cover the medication.  This kind of thing happens all the time in free and open fellowship. When you don’t have a Pastor or building to pay for, it totally frees up the Body to be able to give as anyone has need.  True fellowship works like a fully functioning family and NOT like a business as most “churches” do.  Love and freedom abound when they do not have to follow a planned schedule.  We simply adjust to The Spirit’s flow, instead of requiring God to follow our format and plan.  That is what works for us anyway.  Let God out of your box and He will AMAZE you!

Love and…….

Kirk Out !

P.s. Baby Primrose is in stable condition, CT scan showed her brain is fine, Tomorrow they will go down her throat with a scope to look at what they can do about her malformed vocal chords. Please keep her in prayer….

It’s Really Not About The Book

Greetings,

“He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of The Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”  2 Corinthians 3: 6

Here we have it again:  The Spirit is superior to the letter.  We need The Holy Spirit to guide us, even guide us in how we approach and use the scriptures.

I am going to try and explain this as simply as I can.  I need The Spirit more than I need the bible.  Because the Spirit inspired what is written.  That means if I don’t have a bible The Spirit can still tell me anything I need to know in the bible.  The Spirit can even give me exact chapter and verse if need be.  When I have The Holy Spirit I have full and complete access to everything written in the bible.  The Spirit can bring to my heart and mind ANY passage that I need at ANY given time.  That means if I have The Spirit I also have the entire bible available to me at all times.  With the Spirit I lack nothing that the bible can supply.

However, If I only have the bible and not the Spirit I am lost.  Because you need the Holy Spirit to really fully understand and comprehend what is written.  It is the Spirit that gives the bible its life.  We need the Spirit to open the eyes of our understanding to the bible, without that Spiritual understanding….. the bible is just another lifeless book.

If one has to choose either The Spirit or the bible.  The Holy Spirit is the obvious choice.  If I have The Spirit I automatically have the bible also, but if I have a bible that does not guarantee that I have the Spirit too.  When left to our own human reasoning and understanding apart from the Spirit’s enlightenment we are very apt to misuse and misapply the written word to the detriment of all who may be involved in any given situation.  “Church” and cult history are full of such misled examples.

I am thankful that I do not have to choose between the Spirit and the bible.  However, it is very good to know that no one can ever really take the bible away from me.  Sure they can confiscate the book, but as long as I have The Holy Spirit I will also have the whole counsel of scripture available to me at any time.

Does this help explain why I always say that we need to be Spirit led and not bible led?  I value and treasure the bible.  I wear them out all the time.  It is never really about the book.  It is truly all about the Holy Spirit who gives life to the book.  The Truth needs to be written on our hearts and not merely on paper.

Love and……

Kirk Out !

p.s.  I Had 4 people call me a heretic or worse over my last blog post.  I just smile and continue to love them. Hopefully at least 5 will step up and say I am not a heretic in the comments for this blog post.

P.s.s. Baby Primrose was airlifted to Seattle Children’s Hospital last night. She was having difficulty breathing and was failing to thrive. Today we learned that her vocal chords are messed up. Please keep praying.

The Definitive Word?

Greetings,

Jesus said:

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.  But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.  He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come.”  John 16: 12-13

There we have it!  The definitive word, right from the mouth of Jesus Himself…. It is The Holy Spirit that guides and leads us into ALL TRUTH.  This is why I say and stress that we must be Spirit led and NOT bible led.  Taking these words of Jesus into full account and consideration how can anyone say anything different?

The Spirit of Truth is above the bible there is just no other way around that truth.  Now when the Spirit is leading us into this truth, the place He leads us perhaps most often is the bible. The Spirit can and does lead us in the scriptures and that is as it should be.  However, the bible does not always lead us back to the truth of The Spirit.  Because without The Spirit’s illumination the bible is nothing more than dead letter.  “For the Letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”  The vast majority of traditional/institutional “churches” out there claim that the bible is their final or sole authority in matters of faith and practice.  Yet they deny, in practice, the Priesthood of all believers and settle most often for the Priesthood of one “man” in their congregations that they call their Pastor.  Plus they deny many if not most of the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives individuals in the Body of Christ.  When they limit or deny the Holy Spirit’s empowerments like that they can always back it up with their version and interpretation of scripture.  Jesus came so that we could be free in the Spirit and led by Him and no longer be in bondage to the written word and Law.  Being bible led places limits on the Holy Spirit’s leading and in fact denies us of the full and free Gospel of Truth that is abundantly found in the Spirit of Christ alone.

This brings us to one very great and important question…..  Would the Spirit ever tell us to do something that goes directly against Scripture?  Please step back, say a prayer, and ponder that for a minute?  The answer is YES He can and does at times.  Now, read Acts chapter 10 verses 9-16.  In that passage the Lord directly tells Peter three times to kill and eat what scripture had previously called unclean.  Peter was told in no uncertain terms to violate what was written in the scriptures.

So I choose to yield and submit to The Spirit’s leading in all things, biblical or otherwise.  At least I do on good days.  More human words here will not prove this case any better than what Jesus, Himself, has said about this matter.  God, The Father, The Son Jesus, and The Spirit reign supreme.  I refuse to follow or bow down to anything or anyone less than God Himself.  I will choose direct revelation from The Spirit over and above secondary revelation from a book about Him on any day. But I love the bible and read it and study it as HE leads me there most days.

Love and …..

Kirk Out !

P.s. Our grandniece had court today and they basically told her that Talena and I will get custody of Primrose when she is discharged from the hospital. Grandniece will get visitation and a future chance at custody if she stays clean and sober and follows the courts and proves herself by getting a job and secures appropriate housing as she completes substance abuse treatment and mental health counseling. Very few in her situation and age ever get full custody of their children. We are willing to accept the Lord’s will for all involved. Please keep praying.

P.s.s. And yes I do believe that The New Testament is superior to the Old. I also go with what Jesus has to say over and above other sources.

HIS Voice Always Comes First And Foremost

Greetings,

“…because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by Him we cry “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.”  Romans 8: 14-17

Here it is again…… “..those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”  Please notice again that we are supposed to be Spirit led and NOT bible led.  If someone is bible led it does not necessarily mean that they are a son of God, but if they are Spirit led they are a son of God. It does not get much clearer than that folks.  Once again I am not saying that the bible is not important in the life of a Christ follower.  In fact the place that the Spirit leads us most often to for truth and confirmation is the bible.   However, being Spirit led is not limited to the bible; but being bible led leads to many limitations.

Another thing…. I was just reading Revelation and in chapters two and three we find messages to the seven churches and each message concludes with,,, “Let him who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”  The Greek word used for “hear” is a form of akouomai, from which we get the English word acoustic and it means exactly what it says…to hear or recognize.  If we really want to know what God is saying to the church we need to listen to, and follow, the Spirit; NOT the bible.  Don’t throw your bible away, but only use it when the Spirit leads you to.

Finally Jesus said in John Chapter 10 that His sheep hear His voice and obey.  So where it comes to following Jesus and The Spirit we need to listen for and hear His voice.  It does not say to look at and read the bible.  True Christ followers listen for His voice instead of always trying to make the bible The Sole Authority.  Of course when we do read the bible we can also hear His voice there quite often, but always remember that His voice is always more important than what is printed on the page.  Right now some folks are shaking their heads and pulling out their hair because of what I have written here.  I will say this right out loud now…. sola scriptura is a lie.  The bible is not the know all and end all of the faith.  I am surely glad to have the bible as a most excellent resource in my life, but I refuse to elevate it to near Godhood.  I know this is a difficult saying, but what I am sharing is the Truth in Love, even according to the bible.  Listen for His voice?  The Spirit of Christ will surely guide you into ALL Truth!

Love and …..

Kirk Out !

P.s. Children’s Protective Services has informed us that we are their first choice to be legal guardians of Baby Primrose. We are in the process of filling out ton’s of paperwork and getting our complete background checks. Please continue to pray for God’s will to be done for all those involved, especially Primrose.

Without Mercy All Is Lost

Greetings,

“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:  Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself:  God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.  But the tax collector stood at a distance.  He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, God have mercy on me, a sinner.  I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled. and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”      Luke 18: 9-14

Wow, Jesus was very straightforward here, even to the point of directing this parable right at those who were acting smug and holier than thou towards others.  With pinpoint accuracy Jesus called out those who were full of themselves and lacking in grace, mercy and Spiritual maturity.

The Pharisee exalted himself by comparing himself and his self righteousness to others who were obviously sinning.  Then he listed his qualifications (fasting, tithing) as if he were applying for a position with God.  He totally misses that the only standard we are judged by is Jesus and that nobody ever really measures up without His abundant mercy and grace.

The tax collector was totally humble in approaching God, fully knowing that he did not measure up to God’s standard.  Then instead of listing his good deeds he called himself a sinner and simply asked for God’s mercy, knowing full well that his life falls way short of God’s best.

Too many times in my life I have been the self righteous Pharisee, showcasing my best attributes and minimizing my sin.  Hopefully, this occurs less often as I age and mature in Christ; but it still happens at times.  I can all too easily be a smug bastard and look down on others as I compare my good works to theirs.  Deep in my heart though I am not that person, but in my insecurity there is so much fear and pride that I get sidetracked and focus on works instead of grace.  Sometimes I think that I cannot trust God, His grace, or anyone else; and that I need to earn acceptance and forgiveness on my own.  I know this is warped thinking, but I think it comes from my childhood and never being able to trust my natural father because of the way he raped, molested and abused me.  Trust is a MAJOR issue for anyone who has been abused.  In my heart I know I can trust Jesus, but in my mind at times I still struggle.  So here I am this very deeply flawed individual very much in need of grace and healing.  My only hope? God have mercy on me, a sinner?

Love and ……

Kirk Out !

P.s. Baby Primrose update: Prim was born mostly healthy, but very small. She is in the infant ICU with a feeding tube. She will likely be in the icu for about 2 weeks. Mother is well and out of the hospital. Child protective services is heavily involved and is trying to sort out who will get custody.

What Would Jesus Do?

Greetings,                 

“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.’  When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats.  Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.  He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.  For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”  1 Peter 2: 21-25                 

The WWJD bracelets are easy to wear, but the life is difficult and very hard to live at times.  Jesus left some pretty big steps for us to follow in.  The New Testament is not filled with as many references to being Christ-like as many would have us believe.  However, this passage is pretty straight forward though and does not give us very much wiggle room.  Jesus is our example and the way of Christ is that of no sin, no deceit, no retaliation and no threats.  Oh, and let us not forget the suffering. Everyone wants to overlook the suffering.  This is exactly how and why we are to make our calling and election sure. (2 Peter 1: 10)                 

The way of Jesus is not pretty or easy, in fact it is downright ugly and difficult at times.  Jesus wants us to pick up OUR cross daily and follow Him.  For those who refuse their own cross, but still try to claim His cross in their life I would say this: “No cross, no death, then NO RESURRECTION!”  He wants us all to die to self and instead live for and in Him.                 

But, EVERYONE sins you might say.  True, but not everyone turns their heart towards relationship with Jesus.  If we are in true relationship with Him, He will then cover our sin with His blood sacrifice and we are clean and free; IF we are wholeheartedly surrendering our lives and sin unto Him.  However, if we hold back and continue in a sin; I feel that is a extremely dangerous path to choose.  We might still be forgiven in His eyes, but the collateral damage that comes with that sin cannot be avoided and it can leave a huge path of destruction in its wake.  This is my belief and experience, but we all have to work out our salvation in our own way and time.  Without Jesus though, we are all hopeless and lost. Thankfully He always meets us at our exact point of need and His love, grace and mercy are always extended and within our grasp no matter what we might have ever said or done.  We are never too late or too far gone for Jesus to forgive and reach us.               

 I was going to write more, but I feel Him saying I have written more than enough for today.  I will now take Him at His Word and bid you all a fond farewell.                 

Love and ….       

Kirk Out !             

P.s.  BTW, my best answer to W.W.J.D.? is “Clear The Temple Again!”

P.s.s. Never forget that Grace and Love always triumph over sin.

Absolute Perfection?

Greetings,

“Finally, brothers, good-by.  Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace.  And the God of love and peace will be with you.  Greet one another with a holy kiss.  All the saints send their greetings.  May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”  2 Corinthians 13: 11-14

In Paul’s letters, his greetings and farewells are full of precious gold.  Easy to skip or skim through, but by doing that you lose out on some really great stuff.  His encouragements seem very heartfelt to me.  They show how much Paul really loved those he was partnering with and serving.

“Aim for perfection”, there is that word again.  In the original Greek it does not mean literal perfection, but rather to BE whole, complete and mature.  If we could only grasp that concept from this passage, we would be far better off than we are most of the time.  As we also would be if we only could put aside our differences and truly be of  “one mind” with one another.  Hell, most of the time we aren’t even of one mind inside our very own heads.  Yet Paul still makes this plea.  Living in peace with one another will never happen unless that “one mind” thing can really occur.  I have experienced this with other saints and fellowships over the years and let me tell you, when it really happens it is truly divine and special.  However, we can never MAKE it happen in our flesh.  It is just one of those things that springs up in the process of simply BEING the church together instead of DOING things that we think might look like church.

Greeting one another with a holy kiss might seem socially awkward, but it is important enough that Paul tells us to do it in four of his letters.  Me?  I am a big holy kisser.  I have kissed sisters and brothers in a holy way many, many, times in the last 44 years.  It really helps us to let our guards down and be real with each other in an intimate, yet non-sexual way.  Some folks are totally against the holy kiss, but still claim to be entirely biblical.  I just don’t get where they are coming from.

Paul then closes his letter by saying that “all the saints send their greetings”,  this serves to promote the fact that we are already connected to something bigger than just ourselves.  Finally, Paul wants us to experience the grace of Jesus, the love of God and the fellowship of The Holy Spirit.  Three things vital to any believer or group of believers.  Grace is simply unmerited favor.  It is a gift that cannot be earned, but only received directly from the hand of God.  Christ’s Love is also unconditional, a true neverending gift.  As I have said many times before here in this blog “fellowship” means mutual participation or partnership.  God Himself partners with us via the Holy Spirit and fully equips us to then partner with one another.  Yes, it is true that we can be one with The Spirit and one another here in this life.  We don’t have to wait for heaven for this to occur.  God desires that we BE one right in the here and now.  I have experienced it and I highly recommend it.  Now is the time to put aside our differences and to walk together arm in arm as ONE and praise Him with ONE unified voice.  In Christ there is perfection, both individually and corporately.  Together we can be whole, complete and mature.  Jesus is calling, but how will we answer?

Love and …..

Kirk Out !

Not By Striving Or Human Effort

Greetings,

“You foolish Galatians!  Who has bewitched you?  Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.  I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?  Are you so foolish?  After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?  Have you suffered so much for nothing – if it really was for nothing?  Does God give you His Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?”  Galatians 3: 1-5

Very strong words here from Paul directed at people foolishly trying to obey and follow the law and live by human effort rather than by The Spirit.  Who hasn’t been there?  Regretfully I know that I have at times visited there during my walk of faith.  It is a very easy place to find yourself, especially in the western world; where manifest destiny and pulling yourself up by your own boot straps is the norm.  From the time we learn how to walk we are taught by society and the media that self dependence is the goal of life.  Unfortunately we have been taught many lies by the powers that be.

Quite frankly many of those lies have been told from pulpits.  The “church” is not immune from teaching and preaching works righteousness.  It happens every Sunday, all the time.  The notion that one can tithe and give their way to financial blessing and success is just warped.  It manipulates people to give more money towards building funds, Clergy salaries, and institutional maintenance.  It also taints ones views about God, saying that God’s blessings can be bought and earned.  Which ultimately portrays God as someone who can be manipulated by people with the best financial portfolio.

Many churches also teach that we need to be led by the bible and that whoever knows the bible the best wins.  This type of thinking destroys real unity because it elevates bible scholars and professional ministers over and above everyone else in the church.  Learning the bible is excellent when the Spirit leads one there, but studying the bible in the flesh with the mere mind is just another form of dead works.  I will say it here one more time:  We need to be Spirit led and not bible led.  Spirituality is always preferable over intellectualism.

So which will it be?   Will we follow The Spirit or will we try and make it on human effort in our flesh?  I went to a “Christian” college and studied a lot of bible, but much of my time in the scriptures was purely human effort and not much Spirit at all.  Due to great human effort and HIS Grace I did very well in school, but after school and in real life I found that I needed to hear and be led by The Voice of The Spirit and not by my knowledge of the bible.  It is totally possible to do good and very Spiritual looking things in the arm of the flesh.  You can write and give sermons led by mere intellect and flesh.  You can tithe in the flesh by giving to get.  You can read and interpret the bible in the flesh.  You can observe the law in the flesh…. and the list goes on and on and on…..

Bottom line on all of this…. we need GRACE..the unmerited favor of The Lord in order to do His will.  We get nowhere, or worse, by trying to do anything by mere human effort.  Jesus sent The Spirit to lead us into all truth and the only way to get to the real truth is by The Holy Spirit’s leading.  It requires surrender and not ANY form of human effort.  It takes no effort whatsoever to surrender other than to throw your arms up and quit striving.  Problem is most of the time instead of surrendering we just try to negotiate treaties with God.  My friends it takes true total unconditional surrender to get to where Jesus wants us to be.  The sooner we admit that, the sooner we will really get somewhere in this faith.  Always remember it is all about faith and not works.  Today, I choose to surrender and stop striving.  I won’t know about tomorrow until it comes, but in Christ I have high hopes.

Love and …..

Kirk Out !

Are We All Called To Be Perfect?

Greetings,

Jesus said:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you:  Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.  He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?  Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others?  Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Matthew 5: 43-48

Jesus definitely holds His followers to a standard much, much, higher than the status quo.  He calls us to love even our enemies.  Jesus is Love and He is the standard.  Jesus even makes loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us a condition of being able to be rightfully called one of The Heavenly Father’s sons.

Jesus calls us to love the unlovable and the difficult.  To reach out and to love those who might disparage and oppose us.  It does not matter how we are treated by others.  It is all about us treating others as Jesus would treat them.  Loving those who love us is easy.  Extending ourselves out of love to benefit others is our highest call.  We all need to live better lives than the pagans do because of the life and love He has given us so freely equips us to abundantly do so.

Finally Jesus calls us to be “perfect”.  It sounds impossible because it really is.  The Greek word translated as “perfect” here actually means whole, complete and mature.  And those things are possible in this life, but only because Jesus grants us those attributes by abiding in Christ.  If we are truly whole then it is possible to love the unlovely because then we are able to give out of our abundance and not our lack of love or compassion.  If we are complete then we lack nothing at all and can give all to those who may have need.  If we are mature then we can look beyond both our own shortcomings and the shortcomings of those we are seeking to love and serve.

Jesus extended Himself to the point of death on a cross.  Now He is calling us to extend ourselves to others in the very same manner.  Because Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it.  Luke 9: 23-24

Yes, Jesus has given us a very, very high call.  A call that can only be accomplished by abiding in Christ.  Apart from Jesus we can do nothing, but in Him our potential to love and be loved is unlimited.  Today I choose to follow Him and love others regardless of my own personal comfort zone or level of difficulty.  Today I fully surrender to His great and Holy Love for all people, including the dangerous and the difficult.

Love and……

Kirk Out !

P.s. Our grandniece left 2 days ago and sent us a text saying she was going to keep her baby. We knew this could happen and our hearts were prepared, but after drug testing at the hospital the state will likely take the baby. Please pray that HIS will be done…..