Merely human?


But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.  I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready,  for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?  For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” hare you not being merely human?’ I Corinthians 3:1-4, NIV 

 

Think about this question this Christmas season: Are we behaving merely as humans?Well….isn’t that what we are?….merely human?

 

Over the past few weeks I have offended some people that read my blogs or my sermons.   Now, much of what I write represents my meandering thoughts, and sometimes I write something that displeasing to someone.  Two times in two weeks brothers in Christ have let me know, very carefully, that they did not appreciate something I wrote.  In my opinion their offenses were silly and unwarranted.  But I apologized in both instances and that was the end of it.

 

For what it’s worth, I write as I am inspired, and I scour other sources in my library or the internet to substantiate the article or offer another angle to the point I am trying to make. Sometimes I hurt feelings. But good grief, why are some Christian adults so thin skinned and easily offended.  And yet, of course,  it was my flesh was what was responding to these protests,  even now it annoys me.  Yes, their emails and tone were childish and should have been more mature, but even though I did not respond to them in-kind, I wanted to put them in their place. And that’s just not being a  very  mature or“superior” man, if my goal is to be a super-Christian and not merely “human”.  My gut reaction was just as childish as their emails to me.

 

So, are we going to be people “of the flesh”—-babies—or are supermen/superwomen?  The test, it appears, is our reaction to: (1) those that offend us, or  (2) those that are doing better than us (i.e. those of whom we are jealous) or  (3) those whose opinion or life with which we disagree (strife).

 

To my shame I am too often  “merely human” , and just like my sons put on new, super-powered “skins” in their video games, so also I need to don my new skin—my new Christian clothes. No more diapers or baby bottles!  And let me say boldly, there’s no baby more annoying than an old Christian baby—especially if he is a pastor or priest!

 

Friends, salvation is all God’s work.  All I have to do is accept it.  For Protestants, Orthodox and Catholics we have all come to same conclusion: Redemption is all because of God’ love for us. He has planned from the beginning of creation to bring all who would confess their sins, repent of rebellion and surrender to His Son, salvation—a free gift.  He would also have us understand that it is because of the poured out blood and broken body, which we will celebrate Sunday mornings, that God’s wrath has been turned away—the price of ransom has been satisfied.  We also are required to accept a new birth through the ordinance of baptism, as an expression of our determination to die to self and allow His Holy Spirit to enter into us and cause us to become totally new. These are all choices we have made or must make, if we would receive eternal life.  Have you done this?  If you have not , we should not partake in communion.

 

But the next action that should be taken after redemption is totally up to you and me. He will not make me into a good son.   He will feed, clothe and shelter us, but choosing to becoming like His first born, Jesus, is a decision we must make.  And many of are still running around in diapers, with a bottle in our mouths when we out to be about the chores our Father has assigned to us.  We should be eating solid food and asking our Father about what He would have us to do today, rather than racing about the house trying to avoid our chores or begging for more time to play games.

 

No, I can’t make myself holy, but I can determine to live my life in such a manner as to not embarrass my Savior and be unholy.  Do you not think that God is watching the way in which I draw others to His Son, as well as the way I turn them away by the way in which I handle insults, attacks and set backs?  The author of Hebrews put it this way: How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?”  Hebrews 10:29 (NIV).  And that’s why some of our prayers are not being answered. We pray knowing that something we are doing is insulting to the Holy Spirit, so we cannot pray in faith—but we doubt if He will answer our prayers because of our hidden or unconfessed sin! Get rid of what is hidden and see if your prayers are not answered…

 

Again, it’s the One that is holy that makes us holy… but only if we are prepared to be made holy and separate from those things that keep us from being holy. Scripture tells us that, “Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters"Hebrews 2:11, NIV.  Are you able to call Jesus your brother? What an honor! What privilege to sit at the same table!  

 

 

If been privileged to travel the world as I have promoted our camp and hired foreign staff. But each country has different customs and manners observed at the dinner table. I have broken rules out of ignorance, assuming that U.S. manners at a table were the same all over the world. And so in Japan I placed my chop sticks inside a bowl of rice and offended my hosts, I placed my hands in my lap in France and offended my hosts, I cleaned my plate in China and offended my hosts, and so forth.  And let’s be frank, bad manners at the table brings about indigestion and a desire to more away from boorishness and inconsideration.

 

As you partake of the Lord’s supper, remember that His table is not set for those that are perfect, but for those that know just how imperfect they are, and admit that only He is perfect… and only He can make us whole.  Are you at His table? If you are, are you using good manners?   We’re not supposed merely practice human manners, but the manners that Jesus used at the table.

 

So what is He asking of me after He’s done all the work?  That I give up the old and accept the new!  This does not happen automatically or naturally. It’s a decision I must make in following Jesus. The word of God says: “The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God.” Hebrews 9:13- 14.  So how about it?  Are we serving the living God or hoping and praying that God will serve us?  We have it backwards!

It’s a question of submission and obedience. Lucifer would not do submit and obey and has been temping mankind to follow his example and ignore the example of Jesus Christ—who was the epitome of humbly laying g down His life for God.   Peter’s eyes were wide open to spiritual truth when he said, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.  For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:22, NIV). Well? Have we??? The two disciplines required for holy living and the sanctified life are obeying Him (ostensibly by loving others outside your nuclear family) and living the life of a super man or super-woman like we believe it.  We were not redeemed to be pet monkeys or invalid warriors but sons and daughters of God Almighty.

What will we be next year?  “Mere humans” or brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ?  Will our father be Satan… or God Himself?  As this year comes to an end we stand before a witness of millions that proudly defied the standards and common thinking of the day and boldly explained, “as for me and my house—-we will serve the Lord!”   Well? Will you?

The author of Hebrews again exhorts us with these words:“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV).

If you venture out of ordinary life into the astounding and sensational life of being a new creation in Christ, you will be attacked and wounded  by everything Satan can throw at you, but especially from immature Christians.  That’s just the way it’s always been——and those are the injuries that hurt the most.  But don’t respond in kind when a weaker brother or sister attacks you—-it’s bad manners at the Master’s table.    We’re told in the New Testament that: The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?”  (Hebrew 6:7, NIV)

That’s what a superman or superwoman does in the Christian community.  They let God work things out, they don’t seek revenge, they prefer to disenfranchised or cheated by  someone sitting at the table than be a baby and seek restitution or to be justified.

 

Jesus has justified us before God—-we need no other justification. God knows our hearts—-we are not required to prove the intentions of our hearts to another.  God is more than able to restore what has been taken from us and protect us—but to squabble and quarrel about hurt feelings has not place at the dinner table.

 


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