Many Christians give the world a good reason to defame the church
“The Jews answered him, ‘Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed? I am not possessed by a demon,’ said Jesus, ‘But I honor my Father and you dishonor me. I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.’ At this they exclaimed, ‘Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?’” – John 8:48-53
In today’s world, as we continue to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, the people of our time, as did the people of Jesus’ time, are still picking up stones to throw at us Christians. The world is still calling us crazy. They are still saying that we are demon possessed.
Notwithstanding that, the Christian church will not be deterred. God is still in control. He is still guiding us. He sent the Holy Spirit to guide and sustain us in this mission.
Last Sunday we celebrated Holy Trinity Sunday. In the appointed text, the Jews who had gathered to listen to Jesus ridiculed him. They said cruel things about him. The religious authorities displayed contempt and disdain for Jesus. They called him a foreigner, a Samaritan.
People often say cruel things to one another. Family members says cruel things to other family members. Husband and wives say cruel thing just to hurt one another.
Sometimes, even in the church we say cruel things to hurt one another. The people said that Jesus was demon possessed. It was most unkind for them to say such things about him. They were aware that he was one of them, yet they treated him as an outsider, a non-Jew.
The people of our world say similar things about Christians today. Unfortunately, many Christians give the world a good reason to defame the church.
This was not so with Jesus. He remained focused as he proclaimed the good news to the people. He lived an exemplary life, which is an example to all. His life reflected the person and attitude of God.
The people were angered because they felt that Jesus, for whom they had great contempt, was putting himself in a class with their forefather Abraham, whom they saw as the benchmark of faith and who eventually died. Jesus’ mention of immortality further angered them.
Abraham was great, yet he died. Therefore, it disturbed them that Jesus talked about living forever. They reasoned, if the great men of the Bible died, then how could Jesus claim immortality for himself and those who follow him?
Jesus and these people were talking on two different plains. He was talking about spiritual things while they are talking about secular or earthly things. Therefore, they were not able to comprehend what he was saying.
The people did not know that Jesus was talking about a spiritual death, rather than a physical death. Many Christians, even today, confuse the spiritual and the physical death.
All human beings have an expiry date. We will all die a physical death, whether as an infant, in our youth or in old age. Scripture tells us in Hebrews 9:27 that “people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment”. That’s physically.
However, in contrast to the physical death, we die a spiritual death when we spurn the call of the Holy Spirit and refuse to live God-pleasing lives. By refusing to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, we cut ourselves off from God, thus dying a spiritual death, which is sometimes referred to as the second death. Amen.
• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at the Lutheran Church of Nassau,119 John F. Kennedy Drive, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas; telephone 426-9084; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; or website www.Nassaulutheranchurch.org.