"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Eternity's Bargain

Luke 9
57As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

        Looking back signifies longing for what is behind. Lot's wife looked back and became a pillar of salt. Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet." (Mat 5:13 ESV) Though God's word tells us to be salt to the world, he no doubt had something other than rock salt in mind.
        Yeshua's words in Luke chapter nine raises an impossible standard for flawed human beings. We spend the early part of our lives consumed with self-interest and greed. No, greed is not a sin exclusive to Wall Street wheeler-dealers. Most children's' first words are "No!" and "Mine!" With years, that attitude matures into a—usually—unspoken predilection for life.
        Why, then, did Yeshua tell us to be like children? And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Mat 18:2-4 ESV)
        In what sense does he want us to be like children? Certainly he can't want us to act like little children, at least the children of this age. Therein lies the key to this quandary. In a permissive age, those who practice the latest, theoretical, politically correct child rearing technique, not only do not punish their children's smart mouths, but they feel compelled to encourage free expression, so each child will learn to be him or herself.
        Today's society shuns accountability, honoring instead, personal sovereignty and freedom of choice … whatever that is. What does unlimited freedom of choice produce for a child? Not fun or fulfillment, but injury or death. And that is just the physical danger for an uncontrolled child. If no one enjoys undisciplined adults, what can parents do to prevent their children from becoming such irresponsible people?
        If unlimited freedom is dangerous for a child physically and developmentally, how much control must we exercise over children? A parent's sacred responsibility is to, Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Pro 22:6 ESV)
        Of course, such lessons from Scripture present us with challenges even today. As Yeshua challenged his disciples to emulate little children, we must pattern our spiritual nurturing after wise child rearing. We must subject ourselves to spiritual elders' discipline and nurturing, learning from those saints who most closely emulate Christ's character.
        So, how can we who have chosen to follow Christ avoid turning, or even just looking back to the bad old days? Only one thing will keep us from longing for our past corruption, and that is loving God far more than we ever loved sin. And the only way to achieve such great love is to intimately know the Lover of our souls. Loving God in that way might seem to carry a significant cost, but it is the Bargain of Eternity compared to the cost of not loving him.

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