How much of what we see with our eyes is reality? In today’s world of photo shopping, holograms and virtual reality, it is often difficult to be totally sure what is real and what is a clever simulation of an environment. On a recent TV program a man and his wife were seemingly visiting quietly over a cup of coffee in their kitchen—or so it seemed. The man suddenly took a camera and showed the audience what was really happening behind the scene. The kitchen was full of equipment, wires, cameras, lights and people. Sometimes one’s reality depends upon one’s perspective. Eye witness testimony can often vary from person to person even though they were all at the scene at the same time. Most people feel comfortable in their perception of reality until an unexpected event changes everything.
All that we see around us did not exist until God created it. “…What is seen was not made out of what was visible.” ( Heb 11:3) He spoke things into being. ( Ps 33:6-9) ( Ps 148:5) What seems so real is “ but a poor reflection in a mirror.” ( 1 Cor 13: 12) Even our lives will vanish as a mist ( Jas 4:14) In fact, everything that seems so real and permanent is destined for destruction. “ …the elements will be destroyed by fire…” “…the elements will melt in the heat.” “…the heavens will disappear with a roar…” ( 2 Pe 3:10-12) Scary stuff if one’s world is wrapped up in material things.
However, the faithful Christian is yearning for the real reality—the spiritual, everlasting, reality. He or she awaits “a new heaven and a new earth…the Holy City, the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.” ( Rev 21: 1-2) Then reality gets really good. “ … God himself will be with them (his people) and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…” ( Rev 21: 3-4) That’s my kind of reality, how about you? “ Therefore encourage each other with these words.” ( 1 Thess 4: 16-18)
Old Betsy, my 2000 Buick Regal, will have her 16th birthday this month. I have always changed her motor air filter regularly but have neglected her cabin filter. This was not a wise move because just as the motor air filter traps the dust particles and protects the internal parts, the cabin air filter keeps the pollen and others harmful materials from entering the passenger area and on into our lungs.
Christians also need similar filters on our journey to eternity. The first type seems to be more visible and easier to monitor. We usually recognize the obvious sins such as: greed, lust, slander, hate and other acts of the sinful nature. ( Gal 5: 19-21) Our personal warning lights, with the help of Scriptures and our fellow Christians, should be on high alert if any of these threaten to enter our hearts. ( 1 Thes 1:3) ( 1 Tim 1:5) ( 1 Tim 4:16)
The second type of filter is more like the cabin filter in one’s car. It is more subtle while protecting against the pollution of our soul. It is not unlike the spiritual growth from milk to meat. ( 1 Pe 2:2) ( Heb 5: 12) ( 1 Cor 3:2) We are striving to have the “mind of Christ” ( 1 Cor 2: 16) and a “wisdom among the mature.” ( 1 Cor 2: 6) We desire to move toward perfection. ( Mt 5: 48) It is only through the indwelling Holy Spirit that we can do this. ( 2 Cor 1: 21-22) ( Eph 3: 16)
Old Betsy has lasted much longer than any other car I’ve owned. Part of that is due to regular maintenance of the filters. Likewise we need to keep checking and cleaning our spiritual filters to be the holy priesthood that God expects. ( 1 Pe 2: 5, 9)
The Apostle John tells us near the end of his gospel that “…Jesus did many other miraculous signs…which are not recorded in this book…” “ But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in his name.” ( Jo 20: 30) I’m sure that the other writers of the New Testament could say something very similar.
Nevertheless, being humans, we are often curious about details and what happened before and after the event. There used to be a slogan that stated, “ Inquiring minds want to know.” That reminded me of the Apostle Paul’s experience with the Athenians at the Areopagus. ( Acts 17: 18-21) So it is true that while idle speculation can lead to gossip and disputes, surely there is room for honest intellectual inquiry too.
Even after reading the New Testament many times, there are gaps that puzzle and intrigue me. Let’s pretend we are reporters who are doing follow-up stories on these three events. We will ask our questions knowing full-well we cannot get definitive answers.
The first question is for the poor widow in Luke 21: 2-4. How did you survive after putting, “all that you had to live on,” in the temple treasury?
The second is for the Apostle John. Why didn’t you and the other Apostles fire Judas once you discovered he was a thief and was stealing from the money bag? ( Jo 12: 6)
The third and last is for the nine lepers who didn’t return to thank Jesus, as the Samaritan did, after their cure. ( Lk 17: 11- 19) What were you thinking? Didn’t that seem ungrateful?
I think I have some plausible answers but only based on the type of Savior that Jesus is. Of course I have lots of other questions and I suspect you have some of your own too. If you are willing to share them with me, e-mail me at: email@example.com
Many years ago I resolved never to voluntarily get any cosmetic piercings. I have kept that commitment for a couple of reasons. It would be painful, and no amount of holes nor jewelry could help this old body look fashionable. That is not to say its sinful, but just not my thing. I do have, however, several piercings not of my own choosing due to sports, work or clumsiness that left scars as reminders. Piercing is not always literal. Nearly everyone has had their heart pierced by cruel words, actions and betrayal. Even worse would be when we are the one doing the piercing. ( Pr 12: 18)
The Old Law talks of willing Hebrew servants allowing their ears to be pierced as a sign of loyalty to their masters. ( Es 21:6) Jesus appears to reference this act in David’s prophesy. ( Ps 40: 6) There are prophesies in the Old Testament in which Christ speaks of his future crucifixion. ( Ps 22:16) ( Zec 12:10) ( Isa 53:5) There are also verses in the New Testament proclaiming the fulfillment of them. ( Jo 19: 37) Shortly after Jesus’ birth, Simeon blessed the parents of Christ but also declared that, “ … a sword will pierce your own soul too.” ( Lk2:25) One has to wonder if Mary remembered those words as the soldier’s spear pierced the side of Jesus?
As New Testament Christians we should have had our hearts and souls pierced by the Words of the Holy Spirit. ( Heb 4:12) ( Eph 6:17) Who hasn’t read a Scripture when tempted to judge others and realized we have been guilty of a similar action in the past? ( Mt 7: 1) ( Jas 4: 11-12) Jesus did not show Thomas his pierced hands, feet and side as badges of honor or to prove how much he suffered. He simply asked him to reach out and touch the wounds and stop doubting and believe. “Thomas said to him, My Lord and my God. “ ( Jo 19:27-28) As 21st Century Christians we have emotional and mental piercing from following Jesus if we are taking up our cross daily. ( Lk 9: 23) However, as in Jesus’ revealing to Thomas, they are for reminders to ourselves and not as examples of pride to show others. ( 1 Pe 3: 17) ( 1 Pe 4: 16) ( 2 Tim 3:12)
The word bound and the present tense bind have both positive and negative connotations. The homeowner was bound and gagged by duct tape is very different than the homeowner was bound by his integrity to pay his debts. We voluntarily bind ourselves to our mate but are sometimes bound by outside circumstances such as traffic laws.
During Bible times a slave could be bound to a master and parents were supposed to bind God’s laws to their hands and foreheads. (Dt 6: 8-9) Children were told to bind their parents’ teachings to their heart forever. (Pr 6: 21) Ezekiel prophesied and quoted Christ saying, “…I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak. ( Eze 34: 16) The angels who rebelled against God are bound in darkness with everlasting chains…” ( Jude 6) Jesus’ apostles were given authority to bind up things on earth that will be bound also in heaven. (Mt 16:19)
In the song “Bind Us Together” we ask the Lord to bind us together with our brethren in love. I suggest that there are also other reasons we are tied together. In Ephesians 4 the Apostle Paul mentions several, all using the word ONE. We all serve the one God and Father. We are all served by the one Spirit. ( Eph 3: 16) We all serve in the same body ( church) ( Col 1:24) We all have one hope. (eternal life) ( Jo 3: 16) We have one Savior and Lord ( Jesus Christ) ( Tit 1: 4) We have one baptism.( immersion) ( Acts 22:16) ( Rom 6:2-6) We have much more in common although expressed through our personalities: prayer, unity, fellowship, caring, sharing, etc. God does not exclude anyone from this wonderful fellowship, whosoever will may come. ( 2 Pe 3:9) “ Blessed Be the Tie That Binds.”