We’ve all been shocked this week to hear about more violence in the world. It is bewildering to try to understand why human beings hurt and kill each other, especially when innocent people are the victims. These things will continue to be debated for a long time to come.
Cruelty, violence and murder have been with man since the days of Cain and Abel. The real reasons for such crimes has also been with man just as long: hatred, jealousy, revenge, and a lack of respect for human life. These are the reasons why God judged and wiped away the human race in Noah’s day. When Noah and his family emerged from the ark, God lectured them about the sin of shedding human blood, “For in the image of God He made man” (Gen.6:6). Human life must be treated with great care and respect. This is a principle many people in our world have forgotten.
You may wonder, “what can I do to make the world less violent?” We’re taught in the New Testament to treat others kindly and to be patient when we’ve been offended. Paul told the Ephesian Christians, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Eph.4:31-32). Paul also said, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” We are to practice, teach and model these principles in a world that far too often favours violence. This is how we change things.
It would be hard to find a lovelier introduction to a letter than Jude 1-2. In it, he described his readers with three phrases that should comfort the most discouraged of souls. Let’s have a look.
First, he said they were the called. He was writing to people Jesus had notified, like a legal summons. One possessing the highest authority in the universe had invited them to be saved and enter His kingdom. Since Jude was undoubtedly the physical brother of Jesus, the thought would have taken on a special significance to his readers. And how are people called? Paul said through the gospel (2 Thess.2:14). There’s our summons.
Second, Jude said they were beloved in God the Father. What a sweet term! We use it only for those close to us, like family members. We depend upon such people, and want to be with them. Out of all the people God could, He says we are His beloved. And how did we manage to fall into that category? Simply by His grace and our faith, not by our accomplishments or goodness. Life goes much better when someone loves us like that.
Third, he said they were kept for Jesus Christ. This time of year we are busy buying gifts to be kept for Christmas day and given to family. God is keeping us for Jesus. This implies protection and care. When Jesus comes on the last day, we will be introduced to Him for all eternity. What a great thought! Never fear you are alone and ignored. God is keeping you for His Son.
Three terms with three perspectives. The first looks back, the second involves the present, and the third looks to the future. God has us covered completely! No wonder Jude was able to say what he did in verse two: “May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.”
– Tim Johnson
It is hard for us to imagine the minds of those who have recently killed and injured innocent people in Europe. We wonder where they will strike next, and how we can protect ourselves and our country. Their actions have caused fear and disgust in people everywhere.
It’s interesting that the Bible speaks about similar ancient Middle Eastern powers that once terrorized nations all around them. The Assyrians, Babylonians and Syrians were particularly guilty of atrocities. Isaiah spoke against Assyria in Is.10, predicting their destruction in verses 15-19. In chapter 17 he says the powers in Damascus would be destroyed overnight; “Such will be the portion of those who plunder us, and the lot of those who pillage us.” (v14) Judgment on the Babylonians is featured in chapter 21, and by other prophets like Jeremiah and Daniel.
God clearly pointed out that He is in control of the destiny of nations, and He will judge them when their time is up. Nothing escapes Him, and for that reason we do not need to fear. I have no doubt He will judge the current terrorists when He feels the right time has come; He may use other nations to do it. We can trust His wisdom in these complicated matters.
Our work in the world is to “observe kindness and justice, and wait for your God continually” (Hosea 12:6). Our business is to save the souls of men, and to teach them how to follow Christ. Let’s keep busy with these things and not fear the ravings of violent men and women. God comforted His people in difficult times of the past, and we can rest in His care today.
– Tim Johnson
The New Testament is full of thankfulness, from start to finish. Each of Paul’s letters seem to begin with gratefulness for the church he was writing to, and they usually end with his thanks for individuals among them. See Phil.1:3-4 or Col.1:3, among many. Most of these churches had serious problems that threatened their undoing, but along with reproof the apostle found things about them for which he was thankful. And how about us? Perhaps there are things about our congregation that one could grumble about, but are we thankful for the many more things that are positive? Continue reading
While Luke is only mentioned by name three times in the Bible, his reputation is huge. We would know very little about him if it wasn’t for his authorship of the gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts (in both, he does not name himself). He wrote them about 30 years after the church began (a.d.60-62), but what do we know about him before that? Continue reading