In His infinite wisdom, the Lord saw fit to make me a teacher within the Church. But more than this, He blessed me by placing me in a class filled with believers who love the Lord, but who are also acutely attuned to the events in this world. I know I am where I am supposed to be and doing what I am supposed to be doing because of the changes I have seen God make in me since He placed me in this position. I have always been politically minded, and way to proud and arrogant for my own good, but I knew enough Scripture to know that teachers will be held to a higher standard. I also feared the Lord enough that, when He placed me in this position, I was properly motivated to start studying God’s Word for the first time in my life. I did not want to teach wrongly. As I studied, God started to show me how to better deal with the things of this world according to His Ways. But, more importantly, He showed me how to feed the political part of the believers He had placed in my care while, at the same time, helping them learn to stay focused on Christ. It was because of this that I knew, the Sunday after the Syrian refugee issue boiled over, I knew my class would be looking to me for a little guidance on how we should react to this issue. It’s just that I don’t think they were expecting the lesson or the assignments I gave them. If you would allow me, I’d like to share it with you, as well.
I started by reminding them that Christ told His disciples that He was sending them out as sheep among wolves, so they would need to be wise as serpents, but innocent as doves (Mat 10:16).
At first, they did not understand how this passage is related to understanding how Christians should address the Syrian refugee crisis. So I explained that Christ did not ignore the culture or customs of the society in which He lived. Jesus knew about the Roman law as well as the Law of Moses. Jesus also knew about the Pharisees beliefs and how they lived their lives. He knew about the way the people earned their living, and the things that concerned them in their daily lives. A careful reading of the Scriptures will reveal that Jesus actually used this knowledge to make His Gospel message easier for the people to understand, but He also used it to turn the tables on everyone who tried to trap Him. In this way, He dealt with the things of this world while He remained blameless. But to do so, Jesus had to know about this world and how it works. The same thing applies to the Syrian refugee crisis: we have be wise by knowing the ways of the world so we can stay innocent by properly applying Scripture to whatever worldly problems may arise in our daily lives.
Then I asked them about the character of God. We all know that God is love, but for far too many of us, that is where we stop with our understanding of the Lord. We think of God as love and nothing else, and even then, most of us do not understand what Scripture means when it says God is love. Luckily, I have a class of believers who enjoy searching through God’s Word, so I gave them the following assignment:
In addition to love, search from Genesis to Revelation and find out what else Scripture tells us about God and His Nature/Character.
I told them I did not know what the Lord needed each member of my class to get from this assignment, so I was intentionally leaving it open for them to go wherever the Lord took them. Now I’d like to share with you what my class reported back to me:
FIRST, God is INSCRUTABLE, UNFATHOMABLE and UNSEARCHABLE — We can know very little about Him on our own. Most of what we know comes to us from God, through His prophets and scribes.
ETERNAL — God has no beginning and no end.
INFINITE — God has no boundaries of any kind, except those He willingly places upon Himself.
SPIRIT — God is Spirit, meaning He is invisible.
HOLY — God is separate from any and all moral defilement and is hostile to it.
LIGHT — God is self-revealing; He teaches us about Himself and His ways.
TRUTH — God is incorruptible and cannot lie.
FAITHFUL — God keeps His promises.
JUST — God is no respecter of persons; He is perfect in upholding and applying His Law.
RIGHTEOUS — God cannot and will not overlook wrong doing.
OMNIPOTENT — God is all-powerful; He can do anything He desires.
OMNIPRESENT — God is everywhere, at all times — past, present and future, (but this does not mean that God is everything).
OMNISCIENT — God knows everything.
IMMUTABLE — God does not change.
SOVEREIGN — God is supreme; He is in charge of everything.
LOVE — but more specifically, agape love. That is, a selfless, sacrificial love that has nothing to do with being loved in return.
GRACIOUS — This includes God’s goodness, forgiveness, kindness, mercy and love.
BUT GOD IS ALSO:
JEALOUS — Scripture warns us that God is jealous.
ANGRY — Scripture warns us that God feels righteous anger.
HATEFUL — Scripture warns us that God not only hates an evil heart, but God can hate specific people (important note: it is possible to have a righteous hatred for someone and still have an agape love for that person).
VENGEFUL — Scripture warns us that God is vengeful against wrong-doing.
A WARRIOR — Scripture describes God as a mighty warrior.
A CONSUMING FIRE — Scripture warns that God can be a consuming fire.
BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, GOD IS… JESUS!
This was the part that I think might be hardest for many Christians to understand: Jesus is still the same God of the Old Testament. Whereas many of us might mistakenly picture Jesus as a peace-loving hippie, He is not! Jesus is not a pacifist. He is in perfect harmony with the Father, so everything that is true about God in the Old Testament is true about Jesus in the New Testament. If anyone doubts this, read Revelation and pay attention to how Jesus is described and what He will do when He returns. When He returns, Christ comes back as a warrior leading an army of Saints with transfigured, immortal bodies! What’s more, when He returns, Christ will personally kill tens of, hundreds of, perhaps even millions of His enemies!
Yahweh and Yeshua are One! They are the same God, the Alpha and Omega, the God who does not change. The Father and Son are One! We must never forget this.
So, after we discussed what we had learned about God, I gave my class the second part of their assignment. I asked them to search the Scriptures for what God has to say about how we should deal with foreigners (aliens) in our land. I also asked them to find out what God’s Word says about how we should address civil law and our responsibilities to obey civil government (i.e. politics). I will share what they tell me with you next week, in Part II of this post.