Sunday, March 8, 2009

How Long is Your Sword?

Do you have a pet peeve? Something that bothers you a lot and never seems to get resolved? I'm sure we all do and today, as a special gift, you get to listen to mine. Lucky you. It sort of follows what we have been talking about lately in our study of the armor of God, and especially the use of the Sword of the Spirit. As we found last week, the sword can be used defensively in our own lives to help us live in such a way as to not only please God, but be a witness for Him as well. I want to expand on that thought a little bit today as I try to share my favorite frustration with you, and hopefully shed a little light on what we really need to be doing as we seem to be approaching the end of this age.

"Judge not"! Have you ever heard those words? I know I have. I can't really recall meeting anyone who enjoys being told they are wrong, or that a choice they may have made is the wrong one. If they are believers, it often seems to be their favorite comeback, using this portion of scripture to avoid any feelings of guilt on their part. The question is though, are they correct? We have just learned that the scripture is in fact, a sword that can cut both ways; offensively and defensively. If the Word tells us how to live, or what to or not to do, and we ignore it, are we not then being judged by the Word of God rather than the individual who points it out to us?

Take a look at a couple of verses in the Gospel of John and think about what Jesus said.

"And if anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day." John 12:47,48

You see, what Jesus seems to be saying here is that if we have His word to tell us what to do, and we choose not to do it, we will be judged by the Word we willingly chose to ignore.

As believers we are going to be held accountable for the choices we make here on earth. Of course, unless you just fell off the hay truck, you are probably aware that the word "accountability" is not one we hear too often from the pulpits today. ( Are you starting to figure out what my "pet peeve" is? ) All to often we find that instead of explaining what the Bible has to say about what is expected from us as believers, churches are falling back on the old " I'm ok, you're ok " theology which tells us to feel good about ourselves and not worry if we find it difficult to accept certain parts of scripture which make us feel uncomfortable.

Excuse me? If I read a verse from the Bible that makes me feel uncomfortable I figure God is trying to tell me something and I really ought to listen instead of ignoring it. Yet today we find that the largest and most successful churches are by far, (though not exclusively,there are a few great exceptions) ignoring great portions of scripture because it tells us what to do or not to do and nobody can feel good about themselves if they feel "judged". Let me try to illustrate what this does to our armor.

I don't know about you, but when I was young, reading was a very important part of my education. Most of my favorite books from that time seemed to have had one thing in common and that was a good sword fight. Books like Zorro, King Arthur, Robin Hood, The Count of Monte Cristo, all had great swordplay in them. So something I enjoy in movies today is also a good sword fight. One of the funny scenes that a lot of movies with sword fights have in common is the part where one man manages to cut off part of his opponents sword leaving him with a shorter one than what he started with. Obviously the advantage goes to the person with the longer sword, and it doesn't take long for the person with the short one to turn and run.

So picture us as believers with the Sword of the Lord in our hands ready to do battle. At some point in time, because we choose to ignore part of the Word, our sword gets a little shorter. The more we ignore or resist obeying, the shorter the sword becomes. Eventually the Word of God is useless to us because we have chosen not to be "judged" by it, and allow it to direct our paths. I would call that "Advantage Satan". Isn't that just what Satan wants from us? Ignore the parts of the Bible we aren't comfortable with, and it won't really matter? People, we as believers need the Word of God to judge us. We can't be afraid of hearing when we do wrong, and what God really expects from us, especially when the Bible tells us that eventually, the Word will judge us all.

Better now than then don't you think?