Monday, December 1

Mourning the Bridegroom........

"Jesus said to them, 'The wedding guests can't mourn as long as the groom is with them, can they? But the time will come when the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.'" Matthew 9:15 (GWT)

The season is upon us once again, the forty-first since I was born to Ronald L. Hutson and Sharon L. Nitchie in the city of Farmington, Michigan. It is amazing, I was thinking last night as I shoveled the two-three inches of snow from my driveway, how the further we get away from the actual historical events of Christ the more humanistic and universal the celebrations, journey, and belief systems become. It is as if we, as a people, have decided that since Christ hasn't come back again, we've got to make our own interpretations to see us through the possibility that it was all a joke.

Christ told us that times would come where following Him would be punishable and against the grain of the world. In an effort to make 'Christianity' less intolerant, it seems that we've gutted the whole of the faith so that not one would be offended. It is easy, in modern times, to find that doctrinal belief, religious movement, or even justified false religions to follow. Everything is custom-made for our faithful pleasure.

Christ never promised that the clash of church and the world would be a pleasurable experience. In fact, He said it would separate those who truly know Him from those who would give Him lip service only. What works to get 'em in the doors of the church is what the flavor of the day is. We'll only reach out in the community and help them pay for the outreach program participation only after we have secured the million-dollar mortgage for the building of our permanent home. If the 'holy' books say "Death to the infidels' (meaning anyone not of your religion), well…..that's not the right interpretation…..we're a peaceful religion. We need that newer car, instead of doing the used ten-year old one, and hey, we still tithe….the required 10%.

There is less discipleship going on in the church today and more of funding the programs we have in the churches so that we can sit on our comfy chairs in the air-conditioned buildings and sing lovely hymns of service, dedication, and peace. Yet, the very members of the congregation who are making it to the 'gathering' in a 'wing-n-a-prayer' car are overlooked until they sit down….their clothes, not so new…..their bibles, not so gaudy…..ignored if and when we greet them. There are no serious "How are you doing?" only the superficial requests that 'everything is okay, and if it isn't…..well, we've specialists to pray for you at the altar."

"Be miserable, mourn, and cry. Turn your laughter into mourning and your joy into gloom. Humble yourselves in the Lord's presence. Then he will give you a high position." James 4:9-10 (GWT)

We have forgotten in the church of today of service. Tradition, formed for the solace of the whole of humanity, is the cornerstone of the faithful, to attract the faithless. Worldly, flesh-born, sinful desires and affections that plague us in our walk on this earth are dismissed as a lack of faith, a lack of purity, and wholly lack of faith. We abuse and misuse the mercies given, the blessings offered, and the word of God to reflect upon our desire for the easy roads, the prosperity that has been promised us…in our interpretation of the Word. We seek the things of this world and label it under God's desires, when it is simply our humanity groaning under the weight of the fallen.

"A man may have a large portion in things of this life, and yet be kept in the love of God; but he who sets his heart upon the world," Matthew Henry remarks, "who will conform to it rather than lose its friendship, is an enemy to God." God is against the world, and any who seek to be on friendly terms with the world cohorts with the enemy and must be opposed to God's plan. We are to 'not of this world', and yet combat against our human nature to be violent in our opposition.

The only way that we can achieve such lofty goals is to submit. Submit to God everything; our government, our families, our loves, and our life. Our will, so rebellious and sinful, is brought by the willful subjugation of our thoughts, deeds, and words to the power and authority of the Holy Spirit. It is then that we realize that in the sorrow of our days, the miserable existence of our lives, and the mournful gloom that begets our continuous battle against the fleshly things are simply the standard by which we know we walk a path towards God and not away from Him.

We realize our misery and God answers our realization. He is ready to do good for us, so long as our happiness and joy do not rely upon the nature of the world, the conditions of our lives, and the consequences of others. We stop seeking our own agenda and find God's ready to fill the gap.

Gone are the needs of a fancy home, a nice car, and the convenience of the 10% tithe. We weep over the sins we commit, saved sinners we are, because of our linear understandings. We begin to live the life intended, still sorrowful, still sinful, still meaningless……with the eternal hope that all this will someday end because of the Bridegroom's return. We mourn, not for what we do not know, but because we remember the Bridegroom who had to leave.

When we realize our failings, we bring ourselves to a place where God can be God and comfort our mournful spirits and bring us closer to Him and His vision of who we are in His kingdom. We don't seek promise but humbly submit ourselves to a God who offered us His Son for our sins, to which we are unworthy of, and find in His eyes the glory we once thought was so important from man.

Then we can see the great power of our God, moving in finances, health, and relationships….because we realize we cannot do it alone. We stop grasping and start releasing. And there, in the midst of nothing, we will attract those who are still lost in the darkness of this world.

That is the 'change' we need.

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