Saturday, November 12, 2011

Responding Responsibly

One of the blessings I enjoyed in my recent venture to our Lansing Church Assembly was being thoughtfully prodded by guest speaker, Dr. James Earl Massey to think further. In the 7 p.m. service on 11-4-11, Dr. Massey used four scriptural references, beginning and concluding with 2 Timothy 2:8, and including Ecclesiastes 12, Psalm 139, and Hebrews 13.

He launched by reminding us of the unsteady times we find ourselves in. We need to look no further than the Occupy Movement to realize that people everywhere are “reacting.” Just this morning, the news came of the release of the Venezuelan ballplayer from his kidnappers, the kidnappers being reactors of the criminal variety.

People react in all kinds of ways, but the call to Christians is to respond responsibly. While Massey did not enlarge upon this, thought, it is obvious to me that we have a real responsibility for responsible reaction, especially to react thoughtfully and positively in a time when people find it easy to react emotionally, without thought, and more negatively than positively.

The Christian begins by remembering “Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David” (2 Tim. 2:8, NIV). That was Paul’s gospel, and it should be ours. The Christian faith has many facets of truth involved in it, but it begins with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, who is the Lord of Life for the People of God (those spiritual descendants of Abraham in the Davidic Kingdom).

In times like these, Massey said, we remember our Creator (Ecclesiastes 12; Psalm 139). As the people of God, our prayer becomes “Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Therein lays the secret of joy.

Hebrews 13 is filled with exhortations to love each other as brothers, to entertain strangers, remember those in prison, and honor the marriage relationship, et al. The writer assures the reader of God’s ever-present help and verse seven declares, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”

Here, it is hard for me not to begin recalling leaders who helped mentor my life, from the likes of A. F. Gray and Otto Linn, to Harold Boyer, to Samuel Hines; this list would be endless of people who enriched me by their friendship, example, and teaching. Massey used a political illustration that must be “depoliticized” to appreciate.

Somewhere in his life Barak Obama learned to deeply appreciate Abraham Lincoln and from the day of his inauguration he has periodically returned to Lincoln. His inauguration saw him lay his hand on a Lincoln Bible to repeat his oath of office. More recently, Obama followed Lincoln’s pattern of quietly and rationally speaking to the affairs of the day while the masses clamored for him to respond with confrontation and clamoring. Many criticized him for not “fighting back,” but he followed the example of Lincoln facing a divided nation and “sucking it in” so to speak.

Remember your leaders. The problems we face are essentially the same old problems, just a new generation.

Finally, Massey returned to 2 Timothy 2:8 - Remember Jesus Christ … raised from the dead … At this point, Massey spoke directly to us as Ministers of that Gospel: God will vindicate our ministries. What Jesus taught, he lived intentionally. “Pray for us” the writer of Hebrews continues, and “may the God of peace … equip you with everything good for doing his will” (vs. 18-20).

May the message be fruitful, and “may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (v. 21). The 92nd Michigan Assembly was about following Jesus and about being connected to one another.

From Warner’s World, our times are little different than they have been throughout history. Our First Response as People of God yet remains to respond responsibly …

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