Light On Gospel of Nice

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Truth, by very definition, supposed to be at the exclusion of other perceptions that are not truth.  The kinds of truths that make this world run on the material, philosophical and spiritual truths.  Many things that are material can challenge the intellect and are not for everyone.  Math truth seems to have waved bye-bye to me a long time ago.  But there is plenty of room for grasping philosophical and spiritual truths for the Forest Gumps and Einsteins of the world.  One of the many things I love about Jesus is that the teachings are so accessible.  When they are not there is even a follow up explanation.

But in the teachings and ultimately the authority of Jesus Christ as Lord is that in the gospels He is continually breaking ground or building something in His Church.  Jesus was not running for anything but the cross by which He would redeem the world as the atoning Lamb of God and form a holy community.

But in casting a vision of truth in the Sermon On The Mount Jesus knew that there were deceivers coming to people in the assembly of the day and of days to come so He addresses this.

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:15-20).

Beware of false prophets— Obviously they could be ones who predict something and it does not happen.  But comparing within the same book of Matthew we see in chapter 24 that there would be ones who say, “I am the Christ”.  They are wanting to be the beginning and end of God’s kingdom in place of Jesus.  Jesus is unique and anyone trying to usurp that and elicit worship that belongs only to Him is false where Jesus is truth.

come to you in sheep’s clothing—- Many Christian may know a thing or two from when they have seen deceivers come into the world or even into Christian fellowship.  In the first appearance they seem good.  Maybe they do some good works or speak a dialect of “Christian-ese” fluently.  A deceiver that draws people from the simplicity and devotion to Jesus may fool some leaders some of the time even.

But what are some basic fruits that Jesus says we should look for?  We are informed on what to look for in John 10.

“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”

So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came [before me] are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.  A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.” (John 10:1-5, 7-13).

We learn here that they get among God’s people without respect to the authority of Jesus.  We learn later in the gospels that Jesus delegates authority to others who likewise pass it on to others. It could be implied that they are the “gatekeeper”.   If someone is self-appointed and wants to exercise new truth we ought to be alert right there.  What we also see is that they will not have a healthy view or endurance when hardships come like the specter of death or persecution.  Whereas the DNA of the Church that Jesus builds is that it is “the pillar and foundation of truth”.  Jesus and the true gatekeepers will open and close the books on truth without error but the false shepherds will pollute everything.

I would like to point to the life versus destruction that Jesus speaks of.  Life more abundantly respects the dignity of the human soul and body.  If the reader here is checking out Christianity, take a look at the fruits of its teachings when followed correctly.  I emphasize “when followed correctly” because, as GK Chesterton said, one should judge a medicine for when it is taken.  Christianity, as can be seen in history, supports real life in all its forms.  Moral relativism will only plant ones feet firmly—in mid-air.  Its fruit is death to the dignity of the person and the family.

Last, on discernment, I challenge the reader to be careful about their sources in light of the real deal of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.  Do your influences state something about right living based mostly on “I feel”?  At the time that I write this there has been a Supreme Court decision that has ruled that same-sex marriage must be recognized as a constitutional right.  I am seeing on Facebook many Christians who have openly defied Jesus the Shepherd under the “Gospel of Nice” with the new holy sacrament of “I’m okay, your okay”. They celebrate the ruling for the wisdom of the age in place of the wisdom of the ages. If for a moment someone begins to wonder if they have been deceived, look at the fruit of the prophets of this age.  What is the fruit of no-fault divorce and later remarriage?  What is the fruit of abortion with the people involved?  The wisdom of the age seemed so convincing at the time. Could the fruit be bad in the long run about gay marriage if natural law and spiritual law is violated.  I have my not so wile guess.

Make no mistake: sheep are dumb.  We need Jesus and His chosen, broken servants to walk right and not the false prophets of moral relativism scattered in the media. It is up to each of us to see truth with the right eyes.

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Coming to Be Rescued

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There was this Japanese saying I was exposed to when I was a kid that stuck with me, “The glory is not in never falling but rising after each time that you fall.”  I still like that because as an adult, I fall or fail still but in different ways.

Matthew 14:25-31.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Imagine the men in the boat seeing this supposed phantom in the water.  They cry out of fear since they think that if the laws of nature are being broken, nothing could be good about that.  Maybe they even think that Jesus had died in the short time that He had gone away for some alone time.

The Bible says “fear not”  365 times (not a coincidence for those of us that need to remind ourselves every day).  But this is one of the few times that  the Lord qualifies this with his incarnational presence.  We need that.  We need to remind ourselves that the mystery of the ages known as God has been made touchable on earth.  That peace and goodwill to men is there because of God taking on flesh.  He has put his skin in the game.

At first glance, I see the next part as putting God to the test; which we are not to do.  Jesus was asked in Matthew 12 by the religious men of His day to give him a sign.  He responded strongly and mysteriously: you wicked and adulterous generation (the sign they want would be the instant gratification of a Star Wars movie) and only the cross will be shown to them.

But the test is not from Simon Peter for God but asking for God to test him.  Why else would he not say, “Tell me to jump up and down on the boat?” or “Tell me my brother’s name.” Peter knew enough about the thought and intention of Jesus was for his followers to take their faith out for a spin regularly.  That is the staple of Jesus and one Peter wanted to do anyway.  We know he had that gusto because at the Last Supper he leads the way in saying he would die for Jesus.

The next part is where at least many Protestants laugh at Peter’s expense to easily.  Jesus says come, he has flaky thinking and is humbled to ask Jesus for a rescue.  But in all my bible studies or sermons where this is touched on with comedy relief we forget that he had faith to begin with.  Jesus could have said “You of little awesome belief.”  Peter was not hurt but maybe encouraged.  It is like a statement that he has some of the quality that is needed and is yet to be grown.  It is an encouraging and teachable moment.

After that exchange the others proclaim Jesus is the Son of God.  That is good but I do not envy them like I do Peter.  It is easy to be an impressed spectator but another thing to fall before Jesus while going towards him.  Lesson: risk falling in your faith.  And if you must fall, fall towards Jesus. You may not become pope, but at least you will be at a better place to be teachable.