(January 14, 2022) Robert and Maureen McQuillan challenge…
Many times Jesus spoke about truth: the classic scripture is that precious one of John 8:32, ‘Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ – relating to the gospel message.
And when He was before Pilate, His inquisitor asked Him emphatically, ‘What is truth?’ (John 18:38). Well, the Greek word here is aletheia – and as Dr Jim McClure pointed out in his November 2017 Words of Life (#G7), ‘can be translated as either “truth” or “reality.”’ (Link: Truth and Reality-Aletheia)
Ah… reality. A dictionary meaning of this word is ‘the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.’
There’s been times when I (Robert) have been able to work in two particular incidents to sermons to get a reality, not a notional point across. One is kind of humorous yet serious, the other clearly serious. In fact, they’re both quite serious! I’ll share the humorous one first…
A guy is running very late for church… let’s call him Kristian Kristianson. As he reaches the door, he stops abruptly because he finds the devil standing outside crying his eyes out. Astounded, but with concern, he thoughtfully asks, ‘Why, what’s wrong, Mr Satan?’
Between tears, the devil sobs, ‘Why it’s those Christians in there! They blame me for everything!’
Reality 1: We live in a fallen world!
Okay, we know that our big enemy the devil is still around, causing trouble! Satan isn’t happy that we’ve found a loving heavenly Father and our Saviour, Jesus. But we also know, or should know, that life is life: full of ups and downs, ‘things’ happen, ‘things’ can go terribly wrong, and that humans – whether believers or nonbelievers – simply can’t escape some traumas!
For example, if I’m stupid enough to stand outside in heavy pouring rain without protective gear, get absolutely drenched through and come down with phenomena or worse, can I blame the devil on my ensuing illnesses? Don’t think so!
Rain falls naturally on everyone… but the devil didn’t send it, God did, the same with the sun! In fact Matthew 5:45b confirms this: ‘He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.’
And note something here: when ones reads the whole context – verses 38 to 48 – the deeper truth is that Jesus is wanting us to do the right thing and care for even our enemies if we’re going to be God’s children!
In fact, it’s almost like Jesus pauses between verses 45a and 46 and decides to throw in the above words to point out that our heavenly Father loves His enemies so much that He even sends needed rain and warming sunshine on them too!
In chatting to Maureen about this verse, out-of-the-blue she asked, ‘And what do you do to protect yourself if caught in heavy rain, or the sun is shining very strongly?’
And immediately responded before I could even think, ‘If pouring rain, get an umbrella out and up! If the hot sun, a parasol!’ Commonsense, she added.
Now, why didn’t I think of that, especially about my suggested case above! But then Maureen reminded me of something she had observed decades ago: ‘The trouble is that commonsense isn’t so common, especially among men.’ Duh!
Reality 2: Traumas continue
Where are we going with this? Stay with us…
We’re into 2022, halfway through January already and still in troubled times with –
- Implications on our religious freedom/fate of our Christian schools and organisations
- New virus Omicron sweeping the world
- Increased crime
- Road tragedies
- Rebellion in the streets
- Uncalled for marches
- Food shortages in supermarkets due to absent sick staff and non-deliveries
- North Korea latest hypersonic missiles concern
- Ongoing covid-19 troubles… deaths and hospitalisations
- Overcrowded hospitals and medical staff under pressure, many sick themselves
- Unvaccinated people ending up in hospital unable to be visited by loved ones
- People refusing to be vaccinated, and not mix so closely, endangering others
- Enforced mask wearing, lockdowns and isolations.
And so it goes on…
Although we all want to see the end of such worldwide troubles and trauma, the reality is that no one, but no one knows when! (Remember those so-called prophecies a long while back wrongly claiming that ‘it’ would be over by certain dates?).
Only God knows, just like only He knows when Jesus is coming back (Matthew 24:36).
Reality 3: Being ‘real’
Hey… the world is looking for people who are ‘real.’ Christians need to be real!
In the midst of ongoing traumas, many people have the greatest need of all – wanting to be loved, to know they’re cared about. So many individuals are so hungry for this!
We’ve mentioned thankyous before but it’s worth repeating yet again… a simple ‘Thank you’ to anyone who helps us in any way is always so very meaningful!
Such as expressing thanks to supermarket checkout persons, even if they respond with ‘That’s my job.’ A second thankyou saying, ‘We know but we really want you to know we appreciate you’ goes a long way. And adding a ‘God bless you’ often brings about a smile, can become a leading comment.
We had to contact our local council about a street matter which the lady said would be addressed as soon as possible. Wrapping things up, we thanked her, commenting that we were aware that so many never say thank you but just moan and moan, demanding this and that. Her sigh indicated the reality of what we’d said.
It was another case of doing the right thing, part of that ‘Love thy neighbour’ command that links with Jesus’ Matthew 5:38-48 directions above. Expressing kindness means so much to people including strangers, as does doing things for neighbours such as offering to get groceries for the elderly or homebound.
And who know but such chats and connections can lead to sharing about the Lord. It’s called outreach!
Reality 2: Commonsense
Despite the bad news list above and not having all the answers, we Christians must continue to trust our God and declare to each other that He is still in charge.
Regarding Maureen’s commonsense comment above about raising an umbrella when it rains, or a parasol when it’s too hot so that we’re covered, protected… think in terms of our all-powerful God being our supernatural ‘umbrella’ covering! Despite our not knowing what’s round the corner, let alone the next few years, we repeat: God is still in charge!
That famous quote by Billy Graham is still a reality…
Good news indeed, hallelujah!
But… wait a minute, there’s something else about doing the right things in obedience to commonsense and caring for even enemies!
Reality 5: Doing the right thing
Our various governments have so much on their plates and decisions to make in respect of that list above of tragedies. Planning isn’t easy for them! No wonder Paul urges us to pray for our official leaders! (1 Timothy 2:2-3Mge: ‘Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Saviour God wants us to live.’ Also Romans 13:1 re honouring governing authorities).
We continue to hear of people – including Christians – who haven’t done what governments have requests such as being vaccinated! Other people are endangered! And so we again draw attention to that dictionary definition above… wrong idealistic or notional ideas. There are some such strange ideas around! Such as ‘I’m not getting vaccinated because…’
- ‘The devil is behind it all. I’m not giving into him.’
- ‘It’s a conspiracy! There’s a chip in the vaccination and the ‘beast’ will control us.’
- ‘Government want to control us.’
- ‘If God wants to take me home by this virus, that’s okay.’ (No thought of how family will feel if such a person lands in hospital, facing a horrible time, even death, and can’t be visited, let alone never considering fact what God who gave us life thinks!).
- And other argumentative ‘reasons.’
Such ‘reasons’ or mistaken ideas reminds us of something many years ago… we had flown down to a certain city to discover the local pastor couldn’t meet us at the airport. Instead a young man picked us up and as we travelled to the hotel he happened to mention that he was so concerned about having to give up his job, one he loved.
Actually he was almost weeping. On asking why, what was wrong, he stunned us with his notional ideas… ‘Oh, it’s this new marketing thing where everything has to be barcoded and I’d have to handle the labelling. It’s the devil’s mark of the beast and I don’t want to any part of it! It’s like bankcard… the logo of a triple ‘b’ is really 666.’
It took some straight-talking to settle his troubled, confused, disillusioned mind! Decades have gone by; barcoding is worldwide and the devil still hasn’t got us!
Interesting thought: Haven’t heard Christians complaining about the current QR barcodes that must be operated as we enter shops, restaurants, medical locations… and churches!
Let’s be wise… let’s do the right things that God would truly want us to be doing and care not only for ourselves but for others! Remember… love thy neighbour.
Okay… while you’re thinking about the above realities and desiring God’s umbrella, a lighter note to finish on, especially for those who complain too much about lockdowns and isolations – they’re not new nor did the devil think them up, God did!
God? Yes. Haven’t you read Numbers 5:1-4? Any Bible version will do but here’s the Message: ‘God spoke to Moses: “Command the People of Israel to ban from the camp anyone who has an infectious skin disease, anyone who has a discharge, and anyone who is ritually unclean from contact with a dead body. Ban male and female alike; send them outside the camp so that they won’t defile their camp, the place I live among them.” The People of Israel did this, banning them from the camp. They did exactly what God had commanded through Moses.’
Israel obeyed their leader, then looked to their God who sought to protect them for answers. (Exodus 15:26; Deuteronomy 32:39; Psalm 6:2,30:2, 41:4,103:3,107:20,147:3. Note: Requests were made in faith and trust… and claiming forgiveness of sin where called for)! Numbers 12:13 tells of Moses praying for healing for his sister Mariam who was isolated!
Dr Robert and Maureen McQuillan’s links are OnlinerConnect@gmail.com and Facebook (Scripture/other emphases in this Onliner ours. Appreciated images/pics: various general sources available for reuse under creative commons have been used in good faith and not for profit). Link: Faith in a Time of Fear