Thursday, June 2, 2011

Red Letters

People like John MacArthur amaze me. This man has built much of his ministry preaching through the four Gospels. He writes books about Jesus, the parables, the hard sayings. This is a man who not only prefers the teachings of Jesus, but actively writes about them and lives by them.

I’m smaller than him. I look at passages like Ephesians 1 and Romans 9 and I can’t get enough of it. Open up Titus and I’m there. Whereas some people are afraid of Paul because he talks about election, predestination, and people who are destined to destruction, I’m afraid of the red letters, that is, the words of Jesus. Paul is great for the theologian in me. The red letters are scary for the “me” in me.

Sure, Paul talks about big sacrifices, giving until it hurts, and suffering for the gospel, but for some reason my mind can handle that. It’s when I come to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John that I get really uncomfortable.

Do I seek to be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven the way Jesus describes, by being servant to all? Do I forgive others or do I hold their sins over them like the wicked servant? Am I more like the self-righteous Pharisee or the wicked tax collector?

Jesus says some pretty tough stuff. He talks about becoming a eunuch for the Kingdom, selling all your possessions, or giving someone the clothes off your back. I struggle with this. I read the words and have to ask, “What is Jesus asking me to do here?” Do you think Jesus doesn’t call some of us to literally sell all? To give up everything? To total celibacy? Beyond this, is there something deeper to which He calls all of His followers?

I’m reading through the Gospels. I plan on spending more time in them than I have in the past. And instead of just reading through them, I’m trying to apply them to my life as well. This is tough. This is challenging. But this is what Jesus has called us to do.

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