Point of Reference
by Fred Price
Do you ever feel overwhelmed, disappointed, even disgusted by the political/social/moral dilemmas of our day that don't seem to have a reasonable solution? What were once considered social norms have been replaced by the clamor for the freedom to do – literally – whatever the hell people want. The key to persevering in times such as these is, “…not becom(ing) weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:8
Gay rights, “straight” promiscuity, what is euphemistically called mercy killing, police brutality and its accompanying call for defunding of police, our surrender in the “war against drugs”, abortion on demand – dealt a blow by the Supreme Court – but the issue is going nowhere, even the lowering of expectations in our schools of behavior and grades; all seem to characterize an increasing anything-goes society. How do we overcome all that, or even slow it down? One person at a time, intentionally offering an alternative lifestyle in Christ; not caustically shouted at the street corner but the Word fleshed out in behavior. Paul advising, “…the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:24-26
But how should we respond when confronted by blatant disbelief and promotion of evil? Is silence ever permissible? Immediately after warning his disciples not to be overly judgmental, Jesus advised them as well on the merits of selectively handling the priceless treasure given them; warning against giving “dogs what is sacred”, characterizing the sowing of his word before obstinate unbelievers as throwing “pearls to pigs.” ( Matthew 7:6) How do we balance that with being the “salt of the earth” and “the light of the world”? ( Matthew 5:13,14) By realizing that we are often at our most effective – at least initially – by being the good news before verbalizing it.
That’s not to say we find inner peace or purpose by surrendering to circumstances or accepting the “inevitable.” Some things we can’t change or prevent, although we must be ready and willing to make good our own mistakes and at times help others address their own. (Very carefully – See Matthew 7:1-7) Resignation, on the other hand, is the absence of determination, a failure of will. The ability to tell the difference depends on diligently seeking God’s guidance in these matters.
Strength, as characterized by Jesus is expressed by turning the other check, going the extra mile, giving above and beyond. ( Matthew 5:38-42) Sometimes misconstrued as weakness. Forbearance and self-control, is at times misunderstood as cowardice. Developing strength through suffering and the ideal of losing to gain are hard concepts to grasp, especially by the world; equally hard to practice in the world. It takes devotion and dedication to a cause greater than ourselves. More than that, it takes a sense of consecration – being set apart and purposefully associated with a holy/sacred purpose. (Which makes us better than no one, signifying rather an effort to be useful to He who sets the standard for us all.)
Our commitment to God must embrace a desire to know him personally, discovering his will for us as individuals – learned as we become “close’ to him ( Jeremiah 30:21); committing our lives to taking the gospel to others as we whole-heartedly give ourselves to his purposes and will. (Guarding against the “performance” of our lives as a show of right living, but living rightly, regardless of who sees and approves – or not. Matthew 6:1-4)
At this point, it might benefit us to look at the idea of consecration, starting with Israel’s exodus from Egypt. God declared that every first-born male was to be consecrated to him, signifying that they belonged to him for his exclusive purposes. ( Exodus 13:1,2) At another point telling the whole tribe to, “Consecrate yourselves, because I am the Lord your God.” Done in part by, “Keep(ing) my decrees,” because “…I am the Lord, who makes you holy.” Leviticus 20:7,8 A theme carried in to the New Testament, Peter writing, “…just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do,…” 1 Peter 1:15,16 Set apart, following His way, setting an example. Jesus likewise declaring, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” And promising, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love,…” John 14:15 & 15:10
To fully understand the significance of consecration, we must go back to the Exodus when the first-born Israeli males were spared the fate of the first-born Egyptian males. ( Exodus 12:12,13) Consequently God required those first-born to be dedicated to him. ( Exodus 13:1,2-12,13) Some see a parallel in this dedication of first-born males to the human sacrifice practiced by a number of Israel’s neighbors. God revising this practice by making a claim on the first-born while accepting a redeeming offering to be made in their place. ( Genesis 22:1-14; Exodus 13:15; Numbers 18:16) Later he called out the tribe of Levi to be a permanent substitute for the first-born’s service, designating them for work in the tabernacle and temple. ( Numbers 3:11-13) Centuries later Jesus’ own consecration was necessary as he was the first-born son of Joseph and Mary as well as becoming the “first-fruits” of those who died and then was resurrected, enabling “those who belong to him” to share in that experience. ( Luke 2:22-24; 1 Corinthians 15:20-23)
So let’s, “…run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” By “…fix(ing) our eyes on Jesus,… who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3
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Fred Price - married (49 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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