Sunday, October 03, 2010

Oct. 3 – Shelter that should never be needed

Guest blogger, Stan Nussbaum, takes us on a journey through the messianic year calendar.

Welcome to the journey of our Messiah through the year with Dr. Hussbaum.

”This has fulfilled what the Scriptures said: ‘They hated me without cause.’” Jn. 15:25 (NLT)

If Jesus was so full of love, goodness, mercy, and blessing and if we are full of the same things when we represent him, why doesn’t everybody welcome him and us with open arms? As the bearers of Life, Belonging (Identity), Freedom, Power, Forgiveness, Shelter, and Glory, why do we need a “Season of Shelter” at all? The driver of the ice cream truck never needs shelter from mobs of rock-throwing kids. Why should we need it?

Our problem is that the world has a love-hate relationship with this Messiah we keep pointing to. They love what he stands for as a teacher. They hate what he requires as a Messiah. He comes with the same totalitarian bargain that all would-be messiahs want to drive with their followers, “Trust me. Join me. Give me control over your life. I’ll make the world better. In fact, give me enough control, and I can solve everything.”

The world hates being put into this messianic bind. They keep looking for wiggle room, some way to get what the Messiah stands for without doing what he requires, but none is to be found. Jesus wants them to join his movement. They want him (or his teaching) to support theirs.

The world’s frustration with Jesus naturally spills over to us. The problem is that when we get in step with the Messiah, we automatically get out of step with all groups that balk at joining him. We just do not belong any more. We become (as many did during the Rwandan genocide) the ones who are willing to be killed because we are unwilling to perpetuate the ethnic hatred that has been part of our ethnic identity for centuries.

Look at the folly of sin! We are hated because we refuse to participate in hating! And that is just the beginning. We are hated because we are participating in Jesus’ mission “to destroy these works of the Devil.” (1 Jn. 3:8) Instead of seeing us as representatives of the Savior of the human race, the world regards us as part of his wrecking crew, commissioned and empowered to destroy what the Devil has built.

It is easy to see how our goodness can look destructive from some perspectives. Every time we set a prostitute or an addict free, we threaten the vested interests of a pimp or a drug dealer. But we must remember that it was not the pimps and drug dealers who put Jesus on the cross. It was the establishments of two highly respectable peoples—the political establishment of the Roman empire and the religious establishment of Jews.

The two establishments agreed that Jesus, though he may have been a good man with noble intentions, had to be stopped. He was very charismatic. He was incredibly good with words—profound, clever, quick, and plain. He had no weaknesses of character, no dirty laundry. Because he had all this going for him, he had been able to gain a huge popular following ready to do whatever he said. What was he going to do next?

The cross was a pre-emptive strike by respectable people against a brilliant, honorable person only because he was fearless and unpredictable. In other words, they had no case against him. They hated the Messiah without cause (Jn. 15:25) and they executed him simply to prevent what they feared he was on the verge of doing.

Still today the religious, political, ethnic and social establishments of the world often hate and persecute Christians not for what they have done but for what they might do. Much persecution is pre-emptive and fear-driven. It is the cross all over again, and we have to shoulder it. But there is no shelter like the shadow of the cross.

Welcome: Welcome Jesus, crucified and risen Messiah. Please stay close. Let us live in your shadow and the shadow of your cross.

Affirmation: I will give people no cause to persecute me, but on behalf of the Messiah I will never be surprised by persecution without cause.



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