Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Which Am I?

What was Peter? A fisherman? An evangelist? A sinner? A saint?

In a sense, Peter was all of these. But perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Peter engaged in all of these at one time or another, but none of these completely sums up his existence.

We all eat from time to time. Does eating sum up our existence? Since I eat several times each day, would it be accurate to describe me as 'an eater.' I sleep several hours every day. Could I accurately be described as a sleeper? Do eating and sleeping sum up my life?

Some of us seem to have a problem with how we view ourselves. We attend Christian worship from time to time, and so consider ourselves Christians. Does the conclusion necessarily follow? Or possibly we fail from time to time, and so consider ourselves failures. Does the conclusion follow?

We seem to miss the complexity of our own existence.

Peter did a lot of fishing, but he was more than a fisherman. He engaged in evangelism, but he was more than an evangelist. He failed occasionally, and sometimes dramatically, but his life was not a complete failure. He was also a saint, a holy one, one called by and cleansed by God. But so are we (1 Peter 2:9; 1 Cor 16:1).

Paul called himself 'chief of sinners' (1 Tim 1:16). Yet, by God's grace he was also a saint. We, by virtue of our own sins, might rightly be called sinners, but we also have been called out of our sin to honor the Lord as his holy people. Let us never forget the complexity of our nature. Our failures do not define us; nor do our successes. We are defined not by what we do but by what the Lord has done for us. We live not to justify our existence but to glorify the one who has already justified us.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

None So Blind

The old saying, "There are none so blind as those who will not see" goes back at least to 1546, when it was used by John Heywood. The saying became well-known when Matthew Henry (1662-1714) used it a number of times in his widely circulated commentary on the Bible. A number of variations have developed. A later version runs, "There are none so lame as those who will not walk." A similar principle is being expressed when we say, "Those who do not read are no better off than those who cannot read."

Let us apply the principle to ourselves.

I am sure that all of us feel sorry for the people in Islamic countries, who cannot get a Bible to read. I am sure we sympathized with those in the communist countries of the cold war era who could not have the scriptures. But who is more pitiful, who has the more impoverished intellect, those who cannot study the scriptures or those who will not?

The scriptures are more readily available today than at any time in history. They are more readily available in this country than anywhere in the world. An hour of work (at minimum wage) will buy a Bible. Two or three hours of work will buy a nice well-bound copy. Even those who cannot read have recordings of the scriptures available to them.

Not only the Bible itself, but Bible classes are available. We have been offering four different adult classes on Sunday and three adult classes on Wednesday (in addition to all the classes for children).

God commanded us to study his will and to teach it to our children (Dt 4:9; Eph 6:4). I understand the excuses Christians in Saudi Arabia might offer regarding this command, but we have no excuse. If we are blind it is only because we refuse to see. If our children are ignorant, it is only because we trained them to be so.