December in Colorado—and life in general—has kept me inside far too much lately. I’m desperate to get outside and find some nature to wallow in. It’s not just that the daylight, limited as it is at this time of year, helps ward off depression. It’s that, in spite of all my Christmas preparations and Bible reading, God seems distant—and I know just where to find Him.
We’re all familiar with the Ten Commandments—honor your father and mother, don’t worship idols, don’t steal, keep the Sabbath, etc. God gave us the ten commandments, and we would be smart to obey them. But what about the commandments Jesus gave us? We’re familiar with His teachings, but were there things He commanded us to do, or not do?
If it’s Biblical, it must be true. As believers, we base our lives on this concept. But just because it’s in the Bible doesn’t always mean that it applies now, in our current situation, in the way we think it does. Reread the account of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness. Even Satan quotes Scripture. He just twists it, quoting passages out of context, misapplying it, and ignoring other passages.
This is particularly deceitful because there is truth in what we’re hearing. After all, the best lies are mostly true. A nugget of deception is hidden among words that we recognize as coming from God. And so we are misled.
I recently heard a couple of comments that really bothered me:
- “I don’t like to read the Old Testament. It’s all about God’s wrath.”
- “Which one is true, the kind, loving Jesus or the mean God of the Old Testament? It can’t be both!”
While the person I’m quoting was patterning her image of God on her abusive earthly father, she pointed out a common belief—that God the Father is primarily an angry person—that while Jesus is our friend and brother, the Father has a big scowl on his face.
What says Valentine’s Day better than a box of conversation hearts? I have happy childhood memories of opening my sack lunch and finding a box of candy with sayings such as “BE COOL,” “TRUE LOVE,” and of course, “I ♥ YOU.” My friends and I would share giggles over “MARRY ME” and “FIRST KISS,” and assumed that “PUPPY LOVE” affirmed our affinity for young dogs.
Pots of blooming bulbs greet me as I walk into Walmart. Last month’s heart-shaped boxes of chocolate have been replaced with jelly beans, pastel peeps, and chocolate rabbits. Displays at the end of the aisles feature stuffed bunnies and lambs. And at church, there’s the annual push to invite guests to the Easter service.
This year, Easter (aka “Resurrection Sunday”) falls on March 27. That’s only a couple of weeks away. If we are going to invite anyone to church, we’d better hop to it.
Do you know the story about Jesus healing the paralytic? (You can find it in Mark 2:1-12.) It goes something like this. Jesus is teaching. He’s in a building, perhaps someone’s home. It’s a full house—packed with eager listeners, along with the usual contingent of Pharisees, trying to trip Him up. It’s so crowded that, when a group of friends arrive, they can’t get in the door.
It’s important for them to get inside because they’ve brought another friend who has been paralyzed for years and years. Everyone had given up hope. Then Jesus comes onto the scene, healing folks. Clearly, this is the big chance. If anyone can heal this man, Jesus can. So they scoop him up and bring him to Jesus. And now they’re reached a dead end. They can’t get inside!