We have a group of radical religious people today that want to take over the world and the way they are going about this is to kill everyone who doesn’t convert to their ideology. In fact the Middle East and Europe has been nearly destroyed from either the fighting or those poor people who are running away from the fighting. There are pockets of Christian enclaves that have been completely wiped out either through death or migration. This is not the first time that a group of killers thought they were doing God’s work yet were completely deceived. Jesus forewarned all of us in His original words to the disciples, let’s read them together.
“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. John 16:1-4, (English Standard Version or ESV).
You see there is a test we can do to know whether the message we are hearing is from God and that is to compare it to the words taught by Jesus. The Old Testament has many stories of revenge and seeking revenge and keeping the races separate. When you read parts of the Old Testament but not all of it you might get the sense that it is alright to kill those who don’t think like you do and you might become very intolerant of others. But when you read and understand the entire Old Testament you will see that separation was only for the group of people God set apart to worship Him. Jesus’s coming was foretold many times in the Old Testament as the one who would rule and reconcile all the tribes of the earth together under one Kingdom. The Psalms and Isaiah are full of such promises. Jesus becomes the test by comparing His teachings to whatever message you may hear today. If the message you are hearing doesn’t recognize Jesus as God’s Son then the message is false. If the message you are hearing involves murder and rape and ten virgins in heaven then the message is false. Jesus taught to forgive and to love your enemies and to be kind to your neighbors and if you don’t believe me then go and read Matthew chapter 5 through chapter 7 and see what the words of Jesus really are. Then you will see the difference. The message of hate is so much easier to follow than the message of loving those whom we don’t like. It is so much easier to hate a person who has been mean to us than to love them, but the true message teaches us to love our enemies and to not just stop at loving them but to bless them as well (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27-28). Love can be given from afar but a blessing means you have some kind of contact with them. Praying for someone who has really tried their best to destroy you is hard to do and to be honest my first prayers were more like the Old Testament than the messages of love from Jesus. I prayed that God would remove them from the earth so that no other person would be harmed by them again. Thankfully God was patient with me and through my prayers and over time as I prayed for these people my attitude toward them became more like Jesus’s attitude, and I saw how lost they really were. Then my prayers for them became one of asking God to give them time and to be patient until their rebellion spins out and asking God to give them many opportunities to repent of their sins. Funny thing how God took my prayers and changed me even if I never see the change in them! I think that is the point, don’t you?
Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:33-35, (ESV).
If you truly come in the name of God then you recognize Jesus as God’s Son and you will show love to even those who want to harm you. In some parts of the world today there are many people who have had to face death because they refuse to give up Jesus. I admire them greatly. I always hope that I will also be that brave if that time ever comes for me. I love how Jesus calls the disciples Little Children because in truth that is what we all are, we are the children of God and in our family, God’s family, we live so differently than the world lives. We pray for each other, we meet each other’s needs whether that is emotional, or physical, and we extend love to our neighbors whether it is the person in the house next to us or the person in a hut thousands of miles apart from us. We think of others before we think of ourselves. We are kind and compassionate and loving and caring and share and everything you can imagine that is good and righteous we are doing. And like children we don’t worry about tomorrow because it is only today that is important. Like children we know no strangers. Like children who are molded into good behavior by parents we are being molded into mature Christians by our Heaven Father, God. For some of us learning to share is difficult or learning to show kindness and respect is not easy. For others it may be learning to put God first in every situation in life. And for some of us it is learning to truly forgive and let go. We all have our struggles but at the end of our life here on earth we will be mature and complete and perfect and ready to move on into eternity. Heaven awaits us and it will be mind-blowing and wonderful but there won’t be ten virgins ready to service you, no, that is not the correct narrative!
In the name of God what are you believing and doing? Have you thought about that lately? Are you kind and loving or are you impatient and angry? Are you helpful to others or are you their stumbling block? Are you praying for only yourself or are you praying for others before you ask for what you need. Are you generous with others or are you stingy? Are you putting God first in your life and asking for His guidance in decision-making or are you forgetting to ask. Have you matured in your faith or are you still an infant. Are you really a part of God’s family or do you just think that you are a part. Only you can answer these questions. In the name of God what are you doing with your life? In the name of God are you truthful with yourself and your message to others? In the name of God are you thinking you are safe from judgement blinded by the truth or are you seeing yourself in truth. Sometimes a little self-analysis is useful to really think about where you are today. I hope you are in the name of God following Jesus!