WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, September 19, 2022 - WHEN IT MATTERS - NO DIVIDED ALLEGIANCES!
WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, September 19, 2022
Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s reading is Luke 16:10-13 where Jesus says,
10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
WHEN IT MATTERS - NO DIVIDED ALLEGIANCES!
Christians are often caricatured as being “judgmental” or “narrow-minded.” I’m sure that among the billions of Christians around the world, there are a few of those. But we need to remind people that such a view is at odds with the teaching and the practice of the faith itself. Actually, I think that Christians are, or can be, some of the most kind, merciful, and open-minded people of all, especially when they take the main teachings of the Bible seriously.
Narrow-minded or open-minded? It depends on what you mean by the terms. G.K. Chesterton, in his work Orthodoxy, observed something quite compelling. He wrote,
The more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it had established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild.
I think that gets to the heart of it. There are certain, fundamental things that demand our allegiance “for good things to run wild.” Commitment, allegiance, and obedience to those things is not being “judgmental.” Instead, it’s about living life the way God created, ordered, and redeemed it to be. There are certain things that are fundamental to life, and those things are pretty clear in God’s Word. We honor and strive to make them vital parts of our life. Such foundations include, among others, these:
- the dignity of every human being as a creation of God and, hopefully, as an eternal child of God through faith;
- the institution of the family as the foundation of community and society (e.g., “Honor your father and your mother,” Exodus 20:12);
- the dignity of work (Ephesians 4:28; 6:7); and
- the loving of neighbor as one loves him/herself (Matthew 22:39).
Such things call for, and even demand, allegiance, not equivocation. As Jesus warns us above, “You cannot serve God and money” (Luke 16:13). When the fundamental issues of God’s kingdom are treasured above the things of this world, all kinds of opportunities ensue.
But here’s the thing in God’s Word: There is one fundamental truth that encases all others, that properly motivates and even directs all others. It is the Gospel, the reconciled relationship that forgiven sinners can now have with God because of the person and work of Jesus Christ. To be sure, the rule and order of God’s Law in our life can prevent the public chaos that our sin tends to engender; it also rightly demands that all live virtuous lives that are committed and obedient to God’s moral direction. But even that can’t ultimately change our hearts. Changed hearts come when God’s Word convicts us to give up on selfish, self-centered, “grab for the gusto” ways of life; then God’s Spirit brings us to trust in His love and mercy in Christ as our Savior and Lord.
Goodness can truly “run wild” when changed hearts seek to love and serve others “in view of God’s mercy” (Romans 12:1). When our lives are defined by faith toward God and fervent love toward one’s neighbor, no other way of life compares, and that includes having all the money in the world! Advocating for the Bible’s fundamental truths properly comes from hearts that have been transformed by faith in the mercy and grace of God alone, and are thereby motivated to love others His way. Speaking His truth in love for the benefit of others becomes a daily task, and even an eternal opportunity (see Ephesians 4:15). For goodness to truly and faithfully “run wild” certain things compel our allegiance and summon our faith into action. When it matters most, no divided allegiances will do because God alone is the author of abundant life and salvation, a life that believers get to live now and forever.
PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, I often think that I know best about the fundamentals of life. Give me wisdom and courage to take You at Your Word in the Bible for, among all the competing voices in our world, Yours truly matters the most. AMEN.
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