Kingdom Principle: Faithful actions are anchored in hope not religious repetition.
Knock, Knock…. Who’s there? It’s Jesus. Jesus who? You see that’s the problem. When people forget who Jesus is, or simply disregard Him all together you know things are not going to turn out well. Further, Did you hear about the boys that rang the door bell at the heaven’s gate and ran away (ding-dong ditch)? – When found later, they said “they were lost”. (Terrible jokes) But both take you through the motions of getting to a punch line, only to be disappointed. This is where God finds himself when looking at the motions of his people as they perform their religious rites and rituals. It is not the rite or ritual which is the problem it is that once they go through the motions, God is left thinking this is not funny – in fact it is not a laughing matter.
We are just over half way into the season called After Pentecost – This season is also called ordinary time which moves from Pentecost (end of Spring)until Advent (beginning of Winter). We began in Luke with stories of faith and the power of healing that takes place in faith. The last few weeks in Luke: We looked at right actions verses self-righteous attitudes (Good Samaritan, Mary & Martha), and that prayer is the only true righteous action. Then Last week we saw that being rich toward God is contrary to being rich in the world.
The last few months in the Epistles: We began in Galatians (2:16) discovering that the law cannot save, rather we are justified only by Faith. In Colossians (2:6-7) it was made clear that true life is found only in true faith in Christ. Now in Hebrews, the questions is being posed, “Do you have this true faith?”
We saw in the lives of the Prophets of Amos and Hosea that the people of the Israel, did not live a life of faith in Yahweh, rather they turned to their possessions and that which possessed them for comfort and control abusing and neglecting the poor and needy. Now we arrive at the most major of Prophets – Isaiah – and the attention is turned to Jerusalem, to which her deeds are said to be worse than Sodom and Gomorrah. This city is the navel of the earth, the center of God’s activity and dwelling place of His People, yet while they perform their religions duties, their hearts have gone away from the LORD.
This week’s lesson brings all this to the surface and declares that God is in no need of man’s empty actions, or self-righteous deeds and religious rites and deeds. God does not need the blood of bulls or the meat of calves, rather he declares “sell these possessions and give to those who are in need”. It is not the Law that saves. Therefore, Learn to do right, seek justice, take up the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow…. Be willing and obedient to come before the Lord with thankfulness and acknowledge all that he has done and continues to do in this world. If you do not testify to this, God will call the heavens and earth themselves to testify against you for your selfish ways. A previous Kingdom principle is that obedience will get you to the door of the Kingdom, but submission is required for it to open. This is a must read post! This week we encounter in the texts, that God is not interested in knock-knock jokes and he is tires of those who ding-dong ditch. Meaning – if you are constantly stand at the door, knocking for it to open, but refusing to enter or running away when the door is opened God will hold you accountable for such actions.
We are to live and walk by faith. (Habakkuk 2:4, 2 Cor. 5:7, 2 Tim. 4:7) We are to step into the unknown and trust in God’s provision and protection. Faith anchored in a hope that God will keep his promise (covenant) to his People. Therefore we seek not to dwell on this earth, but to be aliens and strangers in this land, knowing that our true citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20) and that our hope which is in Christ’s return is our true comfort. We are to long for the Father’s control, and our call is to dwell and abide in Him (John 15:1-15).
Last week we established that Greed is Idolatry that destroys our lives. Idolatry places “I” at the center of all things, rather than worshiping and serving God, I elevate myself. Faith is the means by which a God’s people experience His Grace . (Ephesians 2:1-10) It is our faith that makes wide the portal of heaven to come to earth. Faith is not passive acceptance; it is radical attentiveness and constant readiness for action. This faith is not an exchange of goods; it is in itself the reward of this life, and assurance of what we are yet to see. Yet it is not our faith alone that saves us, (James 2:19)nor is it our faith which carries us forward – it is our hope upon which our faith it built.
It is my hope that we are on the same page, and I will walk by faith that God will help you navigate this road ahead. Today – Imagine with me – that you were being called into a court of law that is pressing charges against you that you are Not a Christian. (Because in this scenario it is against the law not to be Christian…) What would be your line of defense to refute these charges – Proving yourself a Christian?
Make a list proving your Christianity….
Now imagine the following things as not counting for any worth on your list….
Going to Church, Prayer, Tithing, attending Bible Study, or any list of actions to which you can’t prove to others your heart’s motivation. This was the charge of God against His people because they did all these actions, going through the motions, but forgetting God completely in the process.
Now make a case proving your faith…. (Not about what you believe, but rather, how what you believe is demonstrated in your life. The book “A case for faith” by Lee Strobel is a great book about why you believe, what you believe. But here I am asking you to take it a step further –What is the So What?) Can you demonstrate that which it true in your heart, not your knowledge, not your actions, simply your heart? According to Hebrews that which actually demonstrates faith, is that Abraham and Sarah (and others) did not even receive the things they were promised, and their actions did not actually produce what they imagined they get. (Think though sharing this as your defense – I never got what I expected and I am yet to see what God has promised….)
One more step – because that last question is really hard, instead of pointing to your faith, make a list of your hope. This expresses why you have faith… What is your hope in Christ?
Notice the differences between this list and the list you used to defend your Christianity. What differences do you see? What Does God see when he looks as you?