Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.

1 Peter 1: 22, 23

It is my fear and concern that we have become very careless with our words. We say things about others that are harsh, mean, crude, and intended to cause harm, and we really don’t seem to care much about the outcome of these statements. People in positions of power speak out about people and about situations with demeaning statements or with inflammatory ones that are either not well considered at all or that may be very well crafted for the very purpose of causing disagreement and for stirring up unrest. This is a world that has turned to incivility as its outward expression of an unhealthy social order. God did not give us the gift of language with this sort of use in mind. God has communicated with people by the use of language since the first days of the existence of humanity, and He has sought out our expressions of who and what we are in response to Him. The Lord also desires for us to engage with each other by using the words that He has given to us and the ideas that form their meaning as a tool that brings us closer together and that forges bonds of understanding and peace.

Perhaps the problem lies within the nature of what we are seeking to craft from the use of the language that God has given to us. We seem to have demoted the words that we use from the place of lofty value that their God-ordained origin grants to them so that now these once noble ideas have become nothing more than common, coarse, and too often profane. When we say something about someone or state our opinion of a concept or an idea we are placing that person, concept, or idea on public view with the descriptor of our language attached to them in such a manner as to make it hard to disassociate the description from the entity. This may seem harmless or even to have a certain whimsical and laughable quality to it, but when the ideas that are spoken are negative or derogatory in nature, they tend to have a tenacious duration to them that will continue to color the way that people view their object long after the original statement has been lost in time and forgotten by its original speaker.

All of this gives Peter’s original comment in these verses more weight in our world wherein words are spread rapidly and widely with amazing facility. God’s truth is far more demanding of us than the form of truth that most of us have framed up for ourselves. He requires that what we hold as true be something that will endure beyond the moment and that it possesses value that endures into the unforeseeable future. The Lord commands that the truth that should inform what we speak and the manner of our expression of our ideas is all formed and expressed in an atmosphere where love is the foundation and where the desired outcome is the building up of others into a form of unity of spirit and purpose. This is an idealistic standard to set for the world at large, but it is an imperative for followers of Christ. What we say has impact into eternity, and how we speak to and about others exposes the nature of our relationship with Christ to full public view. So, every word that comes out of the mouths of people who claim Christ as Savior and Lord, needs to be clearly related to its only valid source that is found in the Word of God alone.    

On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Revelation 19: 16

 

We sit on the edge of a great battle, the most significant in all of history. It has not occurred yet, but it will. It certainly will, and the timing of it seems to be sooner than later. This rider on the White Horse, Jesus the Christ, is poised in his saddle and prepared to engage with all of the forces in our world and beyond it that oppose God. Jesus carries upon Himself the battle name that God, the Father and the Creator of all, has given to the Son. He comes onto the field of contest with no uncertainty and absolutely no apprehension, for the outcome of the day was foretold by God from the earliest moments of history. Jesus is King over this entire world, and He is Lord, the absolute ruler, for all that exists in that creation.

 

The unwavering certainty that infuses this scene at the end of time is also ours to embrace during these days that are being played out a short while before these climactic ones. As we dwell in this world with its conflicts, struggles, and trials we can enter into the reality of Christ’s victory over all of the evil that surrounds us. God has already proclaimed Christ as King over this realm, and the Father has designated the Son to function as Lord in His kingdom come to earth. We have an all-mighty and absolutely capable ruler to follow into each and every day of our lives. There should be no confusion regarding who we are to follow and where we can go for wisdom and truth. Although there are many pretender kings in our world, and some of them are very persuasive or extraordinarily loud as they proclaim the validity of their plans and programs, they are all nothing more than vassal servants of the one great King, Jesus the Christ. So, we can truly follow only one Lord, and our singular source for what is righteous and real can be God’s Word alone.

 

This is the same Word that Christ will proclaim to end both the final conflict that is portrayed here and to eliminate all opposition against God that exists in Creation and beyond. This Word that issues forth from the essence of the being of the Lord is our tangible source of wisdom, truth, encouragement, and courage as we dwell in these days before all is set right again. The Spirit of Christ is with us in all that we encounter so that this same Word is granted a life that comes from behind the pages of the book and out of the heart of God, Himself. This Living Word is the source for life and leads us into the love and the grace that Christ seeks to pour out on all of us during these hours of our need. As we approach the field of contest that life has given to each of us today, we should do so with our hearts secure in Christ’s love and with our minds made clear by the truth of the Word so that this day will be one wherein our actions and our words will speak clearly of Christ as King and to His position as Lord over all of the world.

And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.

1 Kings 18: 21

 

This is a hard moment in the history of the people of Israel. Ungodly rulers are leading them into evil ways and unrighteous actions, and they are quietly and passively going along with it all. Admittedly, defying the king or queen would almost certainly result in a very unpleasant outcome, but even the fear of death is for them a failure of faith. These are people who have heard the stories of various miraculous and wondrous ways in which God has saved and preserved their ancestors. Yet, they live in the compromised state that Elijah describes here. Instead of expressing the beautiful and fluid worship practices that are directed to the Lord, they go about in the broken cadence of people who do not know who they are and do not worship any one true god.

 

We do not live in those times. Our nations are not created and designed as theocracies, and our rulers are not the direct appointees of God. They are not intended to establish and guide the spiritual tone and tenor of the land. Yet, there are some striking similarities between the times of Elijah and ours. The challenge that the prophet threw down for the people is still valid today. There are only two paths through life that we can choose. We either choose to follow God, which means that we become committed disciples of Christ, or we follow the ruler of this world and make ourselves into disciples of Satan. I admit that those words sound hard and harsh, and there is much in this life that we encounter that is not absolutely clear.

 

However, when it comes to making our fundamental decisions about what is right and worthy and what is wrong and outside of God’s plan for His people, the only direction that a follower of Christ can go is to submit ourselves to our Lord. His will is found within the pages of His Word, is brought to light through committed prayer and meditation upon that word, is given support and encouragement in the fellowship of Christ’s body the church, and is strengthened and developed as we enter into the struggle of life with the truth and love of the Gospel as our banner. This is not an easy choice to make. But, if Jesus is Lord and He is God, then there is no other path to choose than the one that engages in full-on and total discipleship to Christ.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10: 9

 

This is another of those statements that are found in God’s Word that is essentially very simple; yet, incredibly complex for my mind to actually grasp. Two very straightforward phrases that cut right to the heart of humanity’s reconciliation with our Creator. A basic set of beliefs that can change everything in our lives. A statement of fact that some people accept and that others reject, and it is on this decision that all of eternity rests for each of us. We are either rejoined with God or we are left on our own through the remainder of this life and through all of the next.

 

Yet, even when a person has agreed with these ideas and called upon Jesus to be Savior and Lord of her life, there is still a lifetime of yielding and submitting and being restored that is left to experience. This is where it all gets to be more complex. This is where life continues to be a great journey and even a fabulous adventure to be embraced and entered into fully. I find that surrendering myself and all of my comfortably established patterns of thinking and acting is not as simple as accepting who and what Christ is. That was truly the easy part for me. The hard part is the rest of the story in which I live in a manner that makes it apparent to anyone that Christ is my Lord. Still, as I struggle with life, Christ speaks His presence, His grace, His truth, and His calling to my heart and my mind.

 

In His resurrection from the dead, Christ totally defeated the most powerful force in this world, and in doing that, He demonstrated His complete mastery over all of creation. When we accept Him into our lives His Spirit joins with us and His defeat of the effects of sin and death are now ours. This is a powerful idea to grasp and to embrace as my own. For in Christ I no longer am the victim. I am now a conqueror of the entire burden that Satan and his evil forces have placed onto my back. So as I agree in my heart with the fact that Christ is my Lord and place my fears, doubts, concerns, and selfish motives as personal sacrifices before His healing grace and forgiveness, Christ performs His healing and restorative work in me. He makes the totality of salvation real in my life. Christ not only assures me of an eternal life with God after this one is done, but He literally brings that eternity into my current existence. This is the essential wonder and beauty of living in Christ.

The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10: 8, 9

 

God’s word is His essential truth, essence, and being. It is the simple and direct reality of who and what He is, and the complete statement of how He interacts with and relates to me, surrounds me and infuses my heart. God has made Himself totally accessible, and He has no off hours, holidays, or situations that are not covered. When I consider nearness as it relates to the Lord, He is as close as the molecules that make up my blood. Yet, when the nurse draws a blood sample, it looks like any other, there is no strange glow to it; and when the lab results return, there are no foreign bodies present, no mysterious structures or organisms. You see, God’s presence in me is not foreign. This is how I was created to be. This intimate and close relationship with God is what was lost when our original ancestors decided to defy God and went off on their own without Him. The influence of evil is what contributes the soul-sickening foreign bodies to us.

 

The process of becoming healthy is relatively simple. It requires us to accept the fact that we need a healing relationship with Christ. That relationship is achieved through accepting the fact that Jesus has the right, authority, and the loving desire to direct our lives; and it is made real through believing in the totality of His sacrifice for everyone. Then the process of healing begins. Christ starts to filter out the hurtful urges, the selfish desires, and the other contaminants that have poisoned our hearts.

 

Being saved from separation from God happens in a moment but being restored from the damage that was done when we were separated continues for the balance of our earthly life. As we grow closer to God and as we get to know Him better, we are made stronger and the health of our spirits is continually improved. When I use the faith that is needed to openly and continually express to others the wonder, joy, and absolute love that is the essence of my relationship with Christ, I grow continually closer to Him, and the good effects of the healing that He is doing in my heart grow ever greater.

 

To Him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.

Acts 10: 43

 

For me one of the most compelling facts about the Christian faith is its absolute truths. God speaks to us of those things that he considers to be non negotiable. Among these bed rock solid, foundational facts, there is none more important than the one contained in these words of Luke. This truth is what every prophet of God was telling us; in all of their stories about events and miraculous happenings, in their telling of calamity and redemption, they point to the final Redeemer. All of these great people who God selected, commissioned, and directed to tell their worlds about the need to live righteously, were even more so directed to show us our need.

 

The Lord’s message for us is one of universal need. There is no one who is born into this world who does not have it; for, it is the singular birthright of each and every person. We are all born naked and crying out, and we are all born with hearts that are shut off from intimacy with God. There is a sure, absolute, and singular way to gain that profound relationship with God and that is through believing in Jesus and by accepting Him as Lord. This is accomplished when we agree to let Him save us from the eternal certainty of separation from God.

 

The most striking thing about this universal truth is that it is clearly intended for everyone; there are no exceptions, and no one is left out. God wants everyone to be close to Him, and He wants everyone to have all of the secrets to living fully and well and to living for all of eternity with Him. That brings me to my part in this story. I am not a prophet, just a person. I am certainly not perfect at living righteously; yet, the Lord wants me to share this truth. His truths are most compelling to people who don’t yet know Him when they are spoken by us. Each of us has a story to tell to those that we meet during the day. Each of us has a life to live that can demonstrate Christ’s loving will to others. Since God has left absolutely no one out of His salvation plan, we don’t get to choose the people that we should share it with. Since it is God’s will that everyone should come to know Jesus, we must tell all. We can tell through our words and we must tell through our actions, and Christ will speak His truth through us to everyone that we do tell.