Thursday, December 16, 2010

Further Instructions

The story is told of a missionary in New Zealand who had a bold approach to planting churches. He would go from village to village, locate the local bar where the roughest men gathered and begin his ministry right next to the bar. The missionary was fearless and knew from personal experience that God could reach those that seemed unreachable.

One day a very rough and tough drunk from the local bar confronted the missionary with a Bible question. He asked the missionary if it was true that Jesus had said when someone hit a Christian the Christian was required to turn the other cheek. When the missionary agreed that Jesus had taught such a thing, the drunk immediately struck the missionary in the face knocking him to the ground.

The missionary got up and turned the other cheek to the drunk. He was struck again on the other cheek and once again fell to the ground. When he got up the second time, he hit the drunk with a powerful blow and knocked him unconscious.

When the drunk awakened he asked the missionary why he had hit him. He said it was because the instructions of Jesus only covered the first two blows to the face. After that there were no further instructions.

I like this story. It appeals to my desire to finally be able to strike the last blow in God’s name. It appeals to my human, fleshly spirit and my respect for human discipline.
The problem is that there are further instructions.

Matthew 5:10-11 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,

For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

The further instructions for persecution are “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad….”

That does not sound like a great plan to my fleshly spirit because rejoicing in the face of persecution is a reaction born of the Spirit of Jesus and not the spirit of man. Jesus’ teaching and behavior only make sense when we begin at the level of His Spirit and not at the level of the human spirit and self control.

To truly understand and obey Jesus’ teaching we must move beyond the letter of human control and live inspired by the Spirit of Jesus. We need inspiration not personal self- control. There is an enormous difference between the two.

Only by abiding in Jesus, the True Vine, can such an inspired shift in human behavior occur. Jesus doesn’t call us just to turn the other cheek. He calls us to let the Spirit that inspired Him all the way to Calvary inspire us all the way to rejoicing and being exceedingly glad when persecuted.

John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

Be sure to read all the inspired instructions of Jesus no matter how good it may feel to have the last blow be yours. Selective obedience is not inspiration.

Bud McCord
Abide International

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