Who’s in Charge Here? Part 2

The kick is in the air, and Mark is returning the kick. God is down one, but he’s got quite a few victories under his belt, so he’s been in this situation before.

In Mark chapter 7, we find Jesus replying to the “your-disciples-didn’t-wash-their-hands” comment made by a group of Pharisees and teachers of religious law. He says:

“You hypocrites! Isaiah was prophesying about you when he said: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away. Their worship is a farce, for they replace God’s commands with their own man-made teachings.’ For you ignore God’s specific laws and substitute, your own traditions.”

(Emphasis mine) The emphasis is intended to show that Jesus is setting man’s teaching apart from God’s.

This is Jesus, the son of God (and God as well), saying that God’s laws are superior. That’s pretty straightforward. God’s laws > man’s laws. (For you Fraction Freaks that breaks down to God > man)

It’s all knotted; 3-3

Then we see in Matthew 5, Jesus talking about the law. (5:17-20)

“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to fulfill them. I assure you, until heaven and earth disappear, even the smallest detail of God’s law will remain until its purpose is achieved. So if you break the smallest commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

The bible put a paragraph break right here, so I thought now would be a good time to point out something. Notice the last two sentences? Read them again. waiting I find that interesting. It doesn’t say that if you break the tiniest commandment you’ll be damned to hell. (excuse my potty-mouth, but this is bible-speak, so it’s acceptable 😉 ) It says that you will be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. Read the following, and I’ll comment more.

“But I warn you–unless you obey God better than the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees do, you can’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven at all!”

The second part says you won’t make it into the Kingdom of Heaven at all if you “follow” the commandments like the Pharisees. I think this means that it’s a heart issue.

Where is your heart at when you are following the commandments?

Are you following the letter of the law, unwillingly. Or are you actually following the spirit of the law, in order to follow God, who you trust to work things out, even if they (the things) don’t look good when your in the thick of it.

Now, let’s look at an entirely new perspective. Your gonna have to read this on your own, but I’ll paraphrase for you. It is a letter that is from King Artaxerxes, to Ezra the priest. It is in Ezra chapter 7, verse 11, to whenever you want to stop 🙂

Basically, King Artaxerxes, who introduces himself “king of kings”, is bossing around God’s priest. He isn’t mean, but he is definitely the authority in his realm, and he wants everyone to know it. (When I say “bossing” that’s a bit strong. He’s really just setting some boundaries for the priest.) The letter is pretty much a “King-Artaxerxes-said-so” letter, and it lays out what Ezra is allowed to be/must be given.

He instructs his people to “…[B]e careful to provide whatever the God of heaven demands for his Temple, for why should we risk bringing God’s anger against the realm of the king and his sons.”

Artaxerxes is not a full on believer in God, and that we should follow him, but he does fear the Lord, and his power. So he isn’t stupid.

Artaxerxes ends his letter, “Anyone who refuses to obey the law of your God and the law of the king will be punished immediately by death, banishment, confiscation of goods, or imprisonment.”

He definitely realizes which side is the winning side, and he’s no idiot when it comes to allies.

Point being, this king, a man in authority, realizes that God is in charge. (This is a trait of early U.S. presidents. They were typically firm believers in God the Father, and they said so.)

So even when they’re in authority, kings, presidents, and prime ministers all agree that God is in charge.

God > man = 4-3 God.

A man I respect answered my questioning of his opinion as follows:

“We obey human authority because we love God.

“Jesus said if we love God, we obey His commands.

“Paul said one of God’s commands is to obey governing authorities (Rom 13)
and parental authorities (Eph 6) and congregational authority (Heb 13, and
I’m not sure Paul wrote Hebrews, but Jim Walker thinks he did!).

“So, we choose to voluntarily submit ourselves to others, out of our
obedience to God.

“However, when human authorities (be they government officials, church
leaders, or parents) instruct us to disobey God, we can’t, because first and
foremost, we love God (Acts 3/4 as well as your Acts 5 passage).”

I agree with this, and I think it pretty much sums it up.

Put simple: God made the world. God makes the final decision. God > man.

BUT  I have come to the conclusion, that when God and man don’t contradict, the man in charge on earth is to be listened to. We are supposed to respect everyone, God said so.

And considering that “We obey human authority because we love God,” I think that:

God > man. Man should follow God. If man doesn’t, God is always trump.


Shame on Shame!

“A broken ankle gives one a lot of time for reflection,” reflected Ian.

Anyway, Ian’s reflections are being published. Yikes!

Shame. Shame is an interesting thing. I am by no means an expert, but I have opinions, and I am going to boldly share them.

From my experience/observance, shame is a result of sin. Sin is a result of us turning from God, and turning from God is a result of needing love. (Isn’t it ironic that God is Love? And yet we turn from him when in need of love. People aren’t very smart. Even our Ph. D.’s are typically atheistic. Harvard grads, etcetera. Some one with an IQ that high turns from what they’re searching for? Yep.)

Shame is the worst part of sin. It causes depression, self-righteousness, suicidal behaviors, all that stuff that is generally credited to amoral video games, movies, our whole amoral culture for Pete’s sake!

But it seems that it’s deeper. It starts with the conscience. I believe we’ve had one since the “Incident in Eden”. We took what wasn’t ours, and immediately knew it was wrong. When that happened each person has a little Giminy Cricket type spark in their mind. It alerts us when something is wrong, and tells us when we did a good job. It is what makes sinning a conscious thing. We decide to sin, rather than just do it accidentally.

As it is Easter, and I am currently munching on an chocolate Easter egg, I’ll use the chocolate egg analogy.

Let’s say (all great Analogists agree, those words are the key to a good analogy.), that you happen upon a chocolate egg. Not seeing any identification, and realizing this egg isn’t of great monetary significance, (or any other significance, for that matter,) you unwrap it and start eating.

Then you find that it was your friend’s egg. Thus you “stole” it from him. Unwittingly, and unmaliciously. I believe that because you didn’t know that it was wrong, it wasn’t wrong.

I completely understand that this conclusion from that is a dangerous rope to dangle from. But, if the  Egg-eater ate the egg, and then was told it wasn’t his, he wouldn’t be guilty of stealing, would he? He would most likely have to replace the object in question, but the effects of shame wouldn’t be the same.

Thusly, I think that shame is a qualifier for sin.

Let’s say, that the man had the intentions of stealing a chocolate egg. He went to his friends house, where his friend was fondly cradling his chocolate egg. He rips it out of his friends hand, and his friend trips and falls trying to grab the egg. He maniacally cackles as he munches the marvelous morsel, in his malicious manor.

Then, later, the shame kicks in. Did I hurt him bad. I didn’t ask if he was okay when he tripped. I shouldn’t have done that! God hates me. My friend hates me. Everyone in the whole stinking universe hates me, and I am never going to be worthy of God’s love!!!!

That last line conveniently sets up this next part.

God’s love is what fixes it all! So when we do something like stealing, the shame tells us, “You aren’t worth your weight in saltine crackers! You are a lousy failure! You couldn’t do a good deed if a good deed did you!” (If you said, “What the heck is that supposed to mean!?” so did the author.)

When that happens, I think the deed causing it (shame) should be classified a sin. Sin is what drives us from God, and when the shame tells us we’re not wanted, that ain’t exactly an invitation to God’s throne.

So then you get to the part where shame is basically controlled by your mind! (Or at least I do. And since I’m the author, so do you! Isn’t this fun 🙂 ) What I mean is, if I don’t think it’s wrong to kill someone, it isn’t a sin. I think that when you’re at that point, the rules of shame don’t apply.

When you can kill, you have buried conscience. Or you have a dead conscience. Thus, the rules of shame have no where to be applied, because there’s no shame to apply them to.

Let’s go back to the list of what happens:

Shame is a result of sin. Sin is a result of us turning from God, and turning from God is a result of needing love. Now, let’s go the other way. Shame results in inferiority complexes, and that results in more sin, because you still don’t have the love you needed, and it keeps going.

With an exception. If you can get past the shame, and admit to God you were wrong, then, it’s all good. God will forgive anything.

My dad has said that, “Almost nothing we do is bad.” He means that the only bad thing is the shame that is caused by us knowing something is bad, and then still doing it.

Shame kills relationships all the time. It’s what creates lies, and it’s what creates hate. Shame is overall not a very good thing.

Shame on Shame.