Sunday, December 23, 2012

Hope and Warning

I once heard of a boy with a halo around his neck. Apparently, he couldn’t keep it up. That’s the problem for most of us, and the reason New Year resolutions usually fail. Even Paul said, “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing!” Romans 7:19.

Even then, we laugh it off; it’s a human quirk, a weakness of mine, part of living, everybody does it, and so on. This betrays the seriousness with which God regards our “failures.” Jesus considered the thought as evil as the deed:

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” Matthew 5:21-22.

On this basis, considering all the commandments, where does that place us? Put aside “Love your neighbour as yourself”; how have we kept the first and greatest commandment? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30-31.

What is true for individuals is also true for nations. Micah’s words, “The earth will become desolate because of its inhabitants, as the result of their deeds.” Micah 7:13. These words, 2,500 years old, are playing out in today’s increasing dysfunction and debt as the west turns its back on God.

But there is certain hope in Micah’s predictions: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Micah 5:2.

“He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth, and he will be their peace.” Micah 5:4–5.

He comes again this Christmas, as every Christmas, as our Saviour. But there is no alternative: “The Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.” John 5:22-23.

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