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Long-View Living in a Short-View World

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Last week, I wrote about time, time-management, and noted how that is becoming increasingly difficult for me. For so many of us there is more to do than there is time to do it. We are required to prioritize and allocate time segments to those tasks that are most pressing or most deserving.

Demands on our time come from outside as others ask that we give of ourselves, our talents, our strength, our time. Volunteer opportunities and philanthropic organizations endlessly make their case for our beneficence. This has become a distinct phenomenon to such a degree that psychologists have given it a name - Prosocial Behavior.

Not all, however, are attuned to such a mindset. Just moments ago, I stood in line at Safeway with about a half-bag's worth of groceries in my cart. Just ahead of me was a young boy, roughly eight or nine years of age. He seemed concerned about the line to our right.

Parallel to me, in the line next-door stood a mother with an even younger boy. The mother had strategically placed the older boy in my line as a gauge for which line was moving the fastest. If need be, she would be able to lane-shift, since she had staked a claim in each line. As the family was reunited, she patted her son on the head and bid him, "Good job."

Rather than live narcissisticly and self-consumed, as did my Safeway friend, what if it were possible for us to reach a point of such self-denial that we gave not only our finances, our possessions, our comfort, our self-interest, and our time, but our entire being . . . our very essence to another. I cannot envision what that would look like or feel like. But I know it has happened.

Jesus gave not money, not time, not possessions. Jesus gave himself. His entirety. Everything he had, and everything he was, he laid that down for us.

He Gave Himself - x6

Six times, the New Testament tells us that Jesus "gave himself" for us. This week, we will look at those statements.

(1)
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. - Galatians 1:3-5, ESV

We speak often of the "gift of salvation," freedom from our sin, and rightfully so. But in this passage the gift is not the salvation. That's the result or outcome of the gift, but the gift is Jesus himself.

(2)
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. - Galatians 2:20, ESV

The reality of Christ living in me in exchange for me no longer living is a strange reality for our finite minds to ponder. But it is made possible only because Jesus gave himself for me. Without that, the former reality is not possible.

(3)
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. - Ephesians 5:2, ESV

Jesus' giving himself for us is prompted by his love, but the amazing thing about this verse is that his sacrifice for us was simultaneously a sacrifice of atonement to God.

(4)
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. - Ephesians 5:25-27, ESV

Jesus gave himself for us to make us holy (hagios) and that he might cleanse (katharisas) us. This is where we get our concept of catharsis - a purging or discharge.

(5)
[Jesus] gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. - 1 Timothy 2:6, ESV

Jesus gave himself in an act of ultimate potency, a sacrifice that was a sufficient ransom for all sin. It frees us, not only from the penalty of sin, but from the power of sin over our lives.

(6)
[Jesus] gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. - Titus 2:14, ESV

Here, again, we see the catharsis - purify - and the purge results in a people who are zealots, eagerly chasing after good works, that whatever we do, we do it all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31, ESV).

Blessings upon you my friends.

Victoriously in Christ!

- damon

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Between working in IT/Software Development, writing books, blogs, and articles, spending time with Alean, kids, grandkids, really, just living life, I find that time has become increasingly valuable to me. I am saying "no" more frequently than ever before, much more frequently than I want to. I am learning to multi-task, something Alean does naturally, but which come to me only with great effort.

Time. Time Management. Just thinking about it elicits a sigh of anxiety.

In the 1970s, the Steve Miller Band reminded us that "Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' into the future." Because of time's linear nature, it always moves forward - never backward, and it never stops moving. Thus, time is a commodity which, once spent, can never be recovered.

Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. - Psalm 32:6, NIV-1978

The interesting thing about this verse from Psalm 32 is that it appears to indicate a time when God will not be found. The prophet Isaiah echoes this same sentiment: "Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;" (Isaiah 55:6, ESV). Jeremiah offers the assurance that God will be found by us when we seek him will all our heart (Jeremiah 29:13, ESV). The call to seek demands an active role on my part, and the urgency to seek is amplified by time "slippin' into the future."

I have never been a fan of fear motivation, preferring rather to focus on the love of God than the wrath of God. Yet, wrath is a side of our God that we ignore to our own peril. Jesus spoke a great deal more about hell than he did of heaven. The Hebrew people were very fear motivated. See how that comes through in this passage.

All our days pass away under your wrath;
we finish our years with a moan.
The length of our days is seventy years -
or eighty, if we have the strength;
yet their span is but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
Who knows the power of your anger?
For your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due you.
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
- Psalm 90:9-12, NIV-1978

We see in this psalm the brevity of life and a call for us to "number our days aright" in light of that brevity. If we can number our days aright, or well, then it must also be possible to number them poorly and foolishly. We should seek God's guidance to number them well.

Elsewhere, David laments and cries out to God because he sees much of his life has been wasted. With his heart growing hot within him, David says:

Show me, O Lord, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Each man's life is but a breath. Selah
- Psalm 39:4-5, NIV-1978
Having made his cry, David looks at the emptiness of our pursuits; the ways in which we waste our time and our efforts.
Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro;
He bustles about, but only in vain;
he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.
- Psalm 39:6, NIV-1978

In describing the end of all things, the apostle Peter tells us that with God, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day (2 Peter 3:8). God lives outside of linear time, and we should neither doubt nor scorn his eventual return. He is coming, but is being patient with our efforts to spread the gospel (2 Peter 3:9).

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
- 2 Peter 3:8-14, NIV-1978

"Every effort" Peter says. Not just a pretty good try. And not "one of these days," or "someday." Now. Today! We have no promise of tomorrow. (James 4:13-17). Our lives are a brief mist that is here one moment and gone the next. Therefore, make now the most important time. Live now. Act now.

For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation. - 2 Corinthians 6:2, NIV-1978

Blessings upon you.

Victoriously in Christ!

- damon

DamonJGray.org
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Facebook Author Page
Twitter - @DamonJGray
Bible Gateway Blogger Grid
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This morning I was reading 2 Samuel 22:31, "As for God, His way is blameless; The word of the LORD is tested; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him." (NASB) As I pondered the blamelessness of God, it reminded me of something I wrote several years ago, and I'd like to share that with you this week.

God is Not Fair

The concept of fairness permeates Western society. Westerners like conditions to be impartial and equitable. There is something innate to humanity, where fairness is concerned, that drives our moral and ethical compass. Young children are quick to cry out "Unfair!" when playing with one another, and it is possible that the cry has merit. It may be that one of the participants gained an unfair advantage by violating the established rules of the competition. It is equally likely that a child played the Unfair card because he or she lost, and knows that the accusation of unfairness is a powerful tool for getting a do-over, or for eliciting parental intervention.

Fairness and justice, though related, are not synonymous. Where fairness references impartiality, an even playing field, freedom from bias, or perhaps even the use of bias to bring about the aforementioned even playing field, justice is more concerned with giving each person what is their due. As far back as the Greek philosopher Plato’s Republic, the idea of fairness and justice has driven discussions related to ethical behavior. This same discussion continues with such strength and momentum that in 2015-2016, United States presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, an openly Socialist contender, made fairness the central theme of his run for the U. S. presidency, though his definition of fairness seemed to be focused more on equality of outcome than with equality of opportunity. What is truly amazing about the Sanders candidacy is that his message of fairness resonated deeply with the populace of a country that in very recent history largely despised the idea of Socialism. Sanders connected with a pain point in the voter rolls, and he played to his audience masterfully.

The notion of fairness, or the lack thereof, can be observed in numerous arenas in western culture. Just as the children cry "Unfair!" on elementary school playgrounds, that same objection is employed to gain attention wherever injustice, real or imagined, is purported to exist. Some assert unfairness from a racial perspective, believing one race or another has an unfair advantage in life. Others declare inequalities from a gender platform, believing that one gender is given preference over another in hiring practices or compensation for work performed. Still others bemoan educational inequities, whether at the elementary or secondary level, or in access to or preferences granted in post-secondary education.

Economic unfairness is an oft-heard protestation from those who object to the economic classes in society, something the Communists believe they can solve by mandating a classless society. They believe that giving all people equal status and opportunity will resolve any issues of unfairness, not realizing that those who dole out those determinations of status are, by default, placed in positions to abuse that power for their own benefit.

These and similar battles continue to generate heat and unrest, with some believing the government must legislate equality into each circumstance, while others believe the government should not be involved in the discussion at any level. The concept of fairness and justice, however, does not limit itself to the political, educational, or economic realm. Our concerns regarding fairness bleed into the spiritual realm where we struggle to understand the interaction of God with humanity, and to reconcile his love with the life-struggle drama being played out before us. Why did God let the tornado wipe out my town? Why did God let my child die? Why does God allow earthquakes? Why is my country filled with obesity when men and women in third-world countries can count their bones? This is not fair. God is not fair.

Grumbling Against God

At the risk of sounding a little cold, I will assert that what is truly fair is whatever God decides is fair. "But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?"1

In Matthew 20, Jesus related a story about a man who owned a vineyard, and hired several crews to work it.2 Early in the morning the landowner recruited workers for his vineyard, and negotiated a specific wage for a day’s work. About nine o’clock that same morning, the owner found more workers who were willing to work his vineyard, so he negotiated a wage with them as well and sent them to work his vineyard. The same thing happened at noon, and then again at three in the afternoon, in each case, the landowner negotiating a wage with the workers, and then sending them to work in his vineyard. Even later, at five in the afternoon, the landowner came across some men standing idle. He hired them and sent them into his vineyard.

At sundown, the landowner called the vineyard foreman, and directed him to pay all of the workers the negotiated rate, beginning with those who were hired last. For their brief time of labor, those hired last were paid a full-day’s wage. Seeing this, those who were hired first excitedly expected they would be paid more. When they also received the same full-day’s wage, they grumbled about it, saying it was unfair for them to work the full day, bearing the heaviest load of the work, right through the hottest part of the day.

But the owner of the vineyard was having none of this, essentially saying, "Your complaint is invalid. You agreed to a day’s wage and you have been paid what you agreed to. If I choose to give the same wage to someone who did not work as long as you did, it is my money and my business. So, take your pay and go."3

We look at our lives, and compare them to the lives of others, and we conclude that we are being treated unfairly, inequitably. Why is it that my nephew had to suffer brain cancer twice before he even reached the age of 20? That is not fair. Why was I born into a comfortable and loving home in Kansas while others are born into poverty in Somalia? That is not fair. Why do I live in a city where I can walk with little concern for my safety while others live in cities where they rarely leave the confines of their homes for fear of being mugged, raped, or shot? That is unfair.

Reexamining Fairness

If we measure fairness using a human-divined system of equability, it is true that everything above appears very unfair. In such a system, the cold reality is that life is grossly unfair, and nowhere do I find Jesus claiming otherwise. As soon as sin entered the human equation, selfishness was set free to run rampant in human relationships, and with selfishness, there is blatant inequality, unfairness, injustice, and evil. Selfishness is a ravenous beast whose hunger is never satisfied. Life is not fair. People are not fair. And God is not fair. God is not constrained to operate on a human system of merit despite the fact that we act as though we believe he should do so. However, if we examine our case more closely, I believe we will see the flaws in our argument regarding God’s unfairness, and feel a bit silly for making it.

God most certainly is not fair. It is not fair that the creator of all that exists should become one with what he created, only to be deeply despised and rejected by his own creation. It is not fair that Immanuel, God with us, should be beaten beyond human recognition4 and torturously fastened to a cross as a payment for my misbehavior. It is not fair that Jesus should die as a payment for my sin debt. No, God is not fair at all. But he is just.

God deals with us not according to what is fair, but according to the depth and breadth of his love for us. He deals with us according to his mercy and his grace. If we were to have our calls for fairness and justice heeded, not one of us would survive, because we are all guilty of sin.5 Justice and fairness would demand payment of our debt, and the wages of sin is death.6 God forbid that he should ever deal with us according to fairness. Thank you, God, that instead you extend to us mercy and grace. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."7

Many years ago, I was talking with another pastor about the death of his son. In that discussion, he said something so shocking, so matter-of-fact, and so profoundly true that I have never forgotten it. He said, "The question is not, 'Why did God let my son die.' The question is, 'Why does God let me live?'" The answer to his question is, "Because God is not fair." If God were fair, we would all be paying the price for ourselves, rather than relying on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus in our place, and on our behalf.

Why Is My Life So Hard?

Life is hard; it is difficult. That is just the simple truth of it. Jesus confirmed this in John 16, telling us, "In the world, you have trouble"8 – and indeed, we do. You and I have seen and known those who pretend to float from one victory to the next, and if we did not know better, we could look at ourselves and wonder what is wrong with us, or with our faith, that we don’t enjoy the trouble-free life that our disciple-in-denial friend pretends to enjoy. Life is hard. Consider these passages, and what they tell us about living life as a Christ-saturated man or woman:

Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. - 2 Timothy 3:12 (NASB)
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; - 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NASB)
But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. - Matthew 10:17-18 (NASB)
Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. - Matthew 24:9 (NASB)
You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. - Mark 13:13 (NASB)
They will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake … But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated by all because of My name. - Luke 21:12b, 16-17 (NASB)
If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. - John 15:18-20 (NASB)
They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. - John 16:2 (NASB)
I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. - John 17:14 (NASB)

Nothing in what Jesus and Paul said above offers any indication that, as Christ-followers, we should expect a life of sliding gleefully on the ice of blessedness. Quite the opposite. If what Jesus said above is to be believed, we should expect persecution, and think it strange if the persecution is not present. Pastor Greg Laurie said, "Righteousness, by its very nature, is confrontational. The very fact that you believe in Jesus bothers some people…"9 Jesus confirms this, and explains it by saying, "For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed."10

On January 16, 1983, I confessed Jesus as Lord, and submitted to a plunge into the watery grave of baptism. When I was pulled upward, out of that water, I was indeed a new creature,11 and I served a new master.12 But nothing in my physical world had changed. I was still a university student. I had to study, and my grades did not instantly become straight-A’s. I still had the driving record of my youth, and my automotive insurance reflected that reality. I still struggled with zits, and could never get my hair to lie just right. My body still became ill from time to time. Life was still difficult, but I now had a Long-View outlook that allowed me to understand my circumstances in a completely different way.

The belief and the teaching that all of the problems in my life expire when I become a Christ-follower is, at best, a misrepresentation of what Jesus taught his disciples. It flies in the face of the whole concept of counting the cost, of deciding whether or not my level of commitment will even allow me to be a follower after Christ. If the life of a disciple was nothing but endless bliss, Jesus would never have taught the way he did about the call to follow him. Peter would never have written about suffering for doing good.13 James would not exhort his readers to endure suffering with patience.14 The writer of Hebrews would never list his great roll call of faith.15 Life is hard, even a Christ-Saturated Life.

We do not become Christ-followers because it makes our lives easy. We become Christ-followers because it makes us clean before a holy God.

Blessings upon you.

Victoriously in Christ!

- damon

DamonJGray.org
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Facebook Author Page
Twitter - @DamonJGray
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1. Romans 9:20-21 (NIV - 1978)
2. Matthew 20: 1-16
3. Matthew 19:13-15
4. Isaiah 52:14
5. Romans 3:23
6. Romans 6:23
7. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV - 1978)
8. John 16:33
9. Laurie, G. (October 1, 2010). The Promise of Persecution. Retrieved 02/12/2016 from http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/harvestdaily/greg-laurie-daily-devotion-oct-1-2010-11638899.html
10. John 3:20, ESV
11. 2 Corinthians 5:17
12. Matthew 6:24, Romans 6:18
13. 1 Peter 1:6-7, 2:19-21, 3:14, 17, 4:1, 12-19
14. James 5:10-11
15. Hebrews 11:4-40


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I was recently treated to a brief video clip of a very animated preacher confronting a man in the pews who was nodding off. Rather than ignore the man's offense and give attention to keeping everyone else awake, the preacher became indignant and publically confronted the man before the congregation, and now via video, before hundreds of thousands of online viewers.

The calloused disregard displayed in the preacher's admonishment was more than enough to arch my eyebrow, but beyond that, I believe what the preacher said in his rebuke was astonishingly arrogant.

"Don't you go to sleep on ME," he shouted, coming out from behind his over-sized pulpit. "I'm somebody! I'm important!"

His narcissistic spewings continued for several minutes, but that's sufficient to give you a gauge of the man's temperament.

Such displays of self-aggrandizement are terribly off-putting, and I believe this man needs to get over himself. I know of no society or culture that views arrogance as a virtue. Recognizing this, there are some who look at statements from the apostle Paul as indicative of an exaggerated self-opinion.

Take, for example . . .

And they were glorifying God in me. - Galatians 1:24, BLB
Is this arrogance in Paul?

Elsewhere we see him make similar remarks. "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1, ESV). He told the church at Philippi, "What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me — practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you" (Philippians 4:9).

Paul's statement that others were glorifying God in him sounds similar to Jesus saying in John 14:9, "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father," and we do not think Jesus presumptuous for saying this. Jesus was the full manifestation of the Father to humanity.

Paul said he had been set apart from his mother's womb, called through grace, and that God "was pleased to reveal His Son in me" (Galatians 1:15-16). Elsewhere, he said, "the truth of Christ is in me" (2 Corinthians 11:10), and he made reference to "Christ who speaks in me" (2 Corinthians 13:3).

Looking back at our target verse, "And they were glorifying God in me," many, if not most translations will translate εν as "because of" to say others were glorifying God because of Paul. Paul was previously a relentless persecutor of the church and was now a staunch advocate of the same. As the theologian Theodoret of Cyrus noted, "the former wolf is now acting the shepherd's part." There is no doubt that the church glorified God because of Paul, but that is not what the verse says when translated literally.

One of the most comforting realities of life in Christ is also one of its greatest mysteries - that is "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27). Jesus indwells every believer through his Holy Spirit. Paul told the churches of Galatia that he no longer lives, but now Christ lives in him (Galatians 2:20).

In this reality, that of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God, the apostle Paul can say with absolute humility,"they were glorifying God in me."

This is the same man who said, "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2, ESV). This is the same man who taught the church at Corinth "Therefore glorify God in your body" (1 Corinthians 6:20). This is the apostle who spoke condescendingly of himself, saying, "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not" (Romans 7:18, NASB)."

For the apostle Paul, and subsequently, for us, the issue at hand is always the glory of God.

  • "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31, ESV).
  • "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen" (Ephesians 3:20-21, ESV).
  • "To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen" (Philippians 4:20, ESV).

The same Holy Spirit who indwelt the apostle Paul indwells every Christ-follower today.

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. - Romans 8:9, NASB

Knowing this to be true, each of us should be equally able to say with Paul, "they glorify God in me," and "follow me, as I follow Jesus." Walk boldly, Christ-follower, with Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Blessings upon you.

Victoriously in Christ!

- damon

DamonJGray.org
Medium.com
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Twitter - @DamonJGray
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Regular readers of my blog know that I am careful to avoid political postings. As a foreword to this blog posting, I want to assure you that, though it appears to be a violation of that principle at the outset, this blog posting is not a political posting, but one that uses current political activities to illustrate a concept.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been making hay recently with chatter about impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, and she solidified that chatter with the initiation of formal impeachment proceedings on September 24, just eight days ago, resulting in cheers from some and venomous rhetoric from others.

The word "impeach" is tossed about in contemporary society with both ease and regularity, and I suspect a fair amount of ignorance. In conversations with friends and acquaintances, I have found that most do not have a proper understanding of impeachment, believing it to mean that the impeached individual is bounced out of office. Such is not the case.

To impeach an official means to bring a formal accusation of misconduct. In the case of a president, it means charging him or her with high crimes and misdemeanors, and then calling the impeached individual to account. In the history of the United States of America, only two sitting presidents have been impeached before the U.S. House of Representatives; Andrew Johnson, and William Jefferson Clinton.

In a politically-charged climate, it is easy to allow personal ideology to fuel emotion, and emotion can then drive us to words and actions that may later prove grievous. When it comes to dealing with public officials, as Christ-followers, we may disagree with them, but we do not have license to disrespect them.

The apostle Peter wrote of this in his first letter.

Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. - 1 Peter 2:17, NKJV

Just prior to saying this, Peter noted that by doing what is right, we can silence the ignorance of foolish men – quite literally, we “muzzle” them. So what does Peter mean when he calls us to "do what is right?"

1. Give Honor to All

There is a construct in the Greek text that indicates a continuous, conscious choice to actively seek ways to give honor to others. The apostle Paul said in Romans 13:7 that we are to give honor to whom honor is due. Peter seems to have expanded on that, teaching us that honor is due everyone, all.

As Christ followers, we do not merely tolerate one another. We certainly do not publicly and intentionally humiliate one another through degrading speech, name-calling, and insults. Such behavior does not show honor to anyone – not to those we are degrading, not to ourselves, and not to God.

I believe it is important to bear in mind always, that every man, woman, and child I encounter is a human being created in the image of God. Thus, for me to disrespect them, to refuse to show them honor, is to disrespect and refuse honor to the image of God - the same God in whose image I am created.

We are in society as representatives of Jesus Christ. Peter says we are "in the world to proclaim the excellencies of the one who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light" (1 Peter 2:9). We are advertising God's virtues, and we belie that reality when we publicly denigrate those with whom we disagree.

The apostle Paul told the Christians in the city of Philippi, "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others" (Philippians 2:3-4, NASB).

Even when I stand in opposition to another, I am to address them with respect, and to grant them honor.

2. Love the Brotherhood

I take loving the brotherhood to mean loving the family of faith - other Christ-followers. The apostle Paul told the church in Galatia that as we have opportunity, we do good to everyone, but especially to those who are of the household of faith. Earlier in his letter, Peter said, "Since you have purified your souls in obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, fervently love one another from a pure heart" (1 Peter 1:22).

We do love one another, not because we are being told to do so, but rather because our hearts are pure. With that purity of heart, we continually, habitually love other believers with this congenial affection that goes well beyond the love we have for humanity in general. There is a bond in Christ that is not present in the world, and that is not even understood by the world.

The next time you are in assembly with your faith family, deliberately look around you. Take in the diversity of that gathering. If your church family is like my church family, there are some wildly distinctive people in that gathering, so much so that, outside of that setting, outside of the common bond in Christ, we would not have a relationship. But there is a commonality in Christ that draws us to one another. It makes us one through a love that the world has no capacity to understand.

Love governs our relationships in Christ. We need to understand that, and submit to that love, because people in the body of Christ will let us down. They will disappoint us, and at times they will sin against us. There are times we will sin against others. Peter, in this same letter, calls on love to address that reality, saying, "Above all [meaning if you cannot do anything else, do this] keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8).

It is only through covering the sins of others with our love that we are able to "remember their sins no more," and "keep no account of a wrong suffered" at their hand.

3. Fear God

Fearing God means one thing to a Christ-follower and something entirely different to a non-believer.

As a youth, I was a tinkerer. I was constantly disassembling and reassembling things in order to learn how they functioned. On one occasion, I absent-mindedly picked up a piece of electrical equipment that had the bottom panel removed. As my fingers folded underneath the appliance, they contacted live components and the ensuing jolt sent me about ten feet across the room.

Electricity is an amazing thing. It can be a good servant, but it demands our respect.

I love the line from CS Lewis’s The Lion The Witch & The Wardrobe where Mr. Beaver addressed the children's question about Aslan being a "safe" lion. Mr. Beaver responded, "Safe! Safe? Who said anything about safe? Of course he’s not safe. But he’s good!"

God is like that. Even a semi-accurate understanding of God informs us that God is awe-inspiring. As Christ-followers, we are in an intimate relationship with the Lord-Creator of the universe. There is a reverential awe that springs from recognizing that reality.

The prophet Isaiah caught just a glimpse of God and came completely undone. He saw his own utter depravity by comparison. God is wholly other!

Moses had an encounter with the glory of God and his face glowed so brightly that he had to cover it with a veil because it was frightening the people of Israel.

We worship and serve a good, loving God, but he is also a God who inspires awe, an awe that transcends respect and includes a healthy dose of fear.

Proverbs 1:7 tells us that the fear of God is the beginning of knowledge. We gain knowledge and wisdom when we understand that our God is a consuming fire, but also that he holy, just, and righteous. Thus, we fear God in the sense that we reverence him and stand in awe of his magnificence, but we do not fear Him in the sense that we are scared of him, because he is good, he loves us, and he works for what is best in our lives.

4. Honor the King

In the United States, my home, we do not have a grasp of what it means to live under a monarchy with a single, unelected ruler. We are allowed some say in who our leaders are.

At the time Peter wrote this, kings were kings just because they were. There were good kings and horrible kings. Regardless, the apostle Peter says, “Honor the king.”

In the original language, this is second-person, plural, active, imperative, meaning, "Do this! Don’t question it, or try to soften it. Honor the king."

Four verses prior, Peter said, "Submit yourself, for the LORD’s sake to every human institution, whether the king, or a governor..." (1 Peter 2:13-14) Peter did not say I had to like the king or governor. He did not say I had to agree with them or admire them. But I am to submit to them and to grant them honor, and not just when I think they deserve it.

When we consider what Peter is saying in light of our political systems and our reaction to those systems, the disparity is disconcerting. Look at social media. Listen to discussions on talk radio or television programming. I can go to my local church and hear horrible things said about our political leaders. We disgrace the name of the Lord Jesus when we engage in such disrespectful behaviors.

One could object to the corruption pervasive in government, and I will agree with that. It doesn't matter. Consider who was on the throne at the time Peter wrote this directive. Nero!

Nero ascended to the throne with the consent of the Praetorian Guard following the suspicious death of his great-uncle, Claudius. He was last Roman emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. His reign was one of tyranny and opulence.

The Great Fire of Rome, in 64 AD, is reputed to have been instigated by Nero in order to allow for the construction of his palace, the Domus Aurea (Golden House). To deflect attention from himself, Nero spuriously blamed the fire on Christians, and in a move of astounding cruelty, acted on his baseless claim by burning Christians alive.

Further solidifying Nero's reputation for cruelty, five years into his reign he had his mother, Agrippina, murdered. Various plots against Nero's life were uncovered, and as each was revealed, Nero had the instigators (usually from his own inner-circle) executed.

Ultimately, numerous territorial governors revolted against Nero causing him to flee Rome. Nero was tried in absentia and sentenced to death as an enemy of the public. As a result, on June 9, 68 AD, Nero became the first Roman Emperor to die by suicide.

That is who was "president" when Peter said "Honor the king." We have no biblical foundation, none, zero ... for dishonoring our governing officials.

Even with the freedom of speech we enjoy in the United States, Peters teaches us that we are not to use our freedom as a covering for evil, but rather to use it as bondslaves of God. We submit to our political leaders precisely because we are submitted to Christ. In that reality, the last two directives from Peter go hand in hand. "Fear God, and honor the king."

He that fears God, loves his brethren, and embraces all mankind with becoming love, will not fail to render also to kings the honour that is due to them. - John Calvin
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. - 1 Peter 2:1-2, NASB

Blessings upon you.

Victoriously in Christ!

- damon

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Acts 17:28 - ἐν αὐτῷ γὰρ ζῶμεν καὶ κινούμεθα καὶ ἐσμέν