Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

A Yorkshireman's take on life, death, and eternity

Month: August, 2018

In Christ there is no class system

I once read that apparently, the UK is one of the most socially stratified societies in Europe. Whatever class you’re born into, is likely to be the one you stay in.

Although class isn’t at the forefront of many people’s thinking in the UK, it does seem to be a major issue in evangelical Christianity in the UK at the moment.

In the olden days, people used to talk about the “white man’s burden” to spread Christianity among non white people.

Now there seems to be a “middle class burden” to share the gospel among the working classes.

The UK evangelical church is becoming uncomfortably self conscious about being largely middle class. Hence the “burden” to share the gospel with the working class.

But what is our primary identity in? Our class? Or in Christ?

Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
Colossians 3:11 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/col.3.11.ESV

God doesn’t call us to build working class, middle class, white or black churches. Unity in the church isn’t something we (de)construct. We are one in Christ. It’s not about how cultured we are. It’s not about our religiosity. It’s not about what language (s) we speak. It’s not about our cultural background. It’s not even about what class we are or what job we do. It’s all about Christ. And if we’re talking more about class or any of these other things than Christ, we’ve got a distorted perspective.

I’m not saying class isn’t an issue. It is. It was in Corinth, where some were greedy at the Lord’s supper, and some were going without. But the remedy isn’t about changing class, or speaking down (or up) to another class. It’s about remembering who we are in Christ- one body (albeit many members).

The body illustration is the right one for the church of Christ, not some stratified rock face. We can’t all be arms, grafting away at the coal face of reaching the unreached. Some of us are hands, to give to those less well off than us. Yes we are all to do the work of evangelism, and we are all to be generous, but some have special giftings in these and other areas.

What are the divisive issues in your context? How can you display the unity of Christ in the body of Christ today?

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Integrity

Oh, that I had one to hear me! (Here is my signature! Let the Almighty answer me!) Oh, that I had the indictment written by my adversary!

Job 31:35 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/job.31.35.ESV

The author of Job is anonymous. But Job’s mention of his signature here suggests that he himself may have been the author of his self titled book. He was longing for someone to hear him. When suffering, we don’t necessarily want answers so much as a hearing.

Job 31 has been described as a male equivalent of Proverbs 31, which describes the wife of noble character. In Job 31, he describes his noble character, not to boast but as a defence against his accusatory friends. Job was a man of integrity, and we would do well to learn from him in this chapter.

Job wanted God to answer him. Was it not true that he was a man of integrity? Then why was he suffering so much? It didn’t seem fair. He felt like he was on trial, as his friends accused him. Job wanted to put God in the dock for treating him so harshly.

When Job says he wishes he had his adversary’s indictment, he probably thought his adversary was the Almighty Himself. Job had a big theology, but seemingly no understanding of our adversary the devil, who prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Don’t blame God for satan’s actions.

Almighty God, thank You that You can turn satan’s attacks into an opportunity to refine our faith. Please help us to be people of integrity, even in the face of great suffering. For Your glory, amen”

Grace

To the choirmaster: according to The Dove on Far-off Terebinths. A Miktam of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath.

Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;

all day long an attacker oppresses me

Psalm 56:1

Psalms aren’t just happy songs to sing in the good times. They include sad songs, or laments, for the hard times. This Psalm is like a cry for help from God in a very difficult time in David’s life.

He had given up hiding in the wilderness of the promised land from the murderous king Saul, and had fled to enemy territory. Having killed the Philistine champion Goliath as a young man, Philistia probably wasn’t the best choice of hideout.

Unsurprisingly, the Philistines seized him in one of their cities, and he feined madness to try and avoid execution. To pray to God for grace was definately a better move, and God graciously answered his prayer. The title of the Psalm suggests David was homesick, longing to be back where he belonged.

The truth was that years on the run were getting to him, and he was starting to trust in his own wisdom rather than God’s to deliver him. Thankfully this Psalm is his return to his first love, and his realisation that in the face of opposition, he needed God.

“God Almighty, we’re well aware of our need for You in the hard times. Please help us to cry out to You whatever we’re going through, and to know that You hear us, in Jesus’ name, amen”

Seek

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Luke 19:10 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/luk.19.10.ESV

The Son of Man was probably Jesus’ favorite nickname for Himself. It references a prophecy of Daniel. In it, the Son of Man is presented to the Ancient of Days (God the Father) and is given dominion over an everlasting kingdom.

So if Jesus is the King of God’s kingdom, what does He use His power for? Fighting His enemies and taking over the world? No, the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. Jesus wants us in His kingdom, and it’s only if He finds us that we will be.

Yes, we should seek after God. But ultimately it is Him who does the seeking and the saving. We need a Saviour. It’s not just that we need to apply for citizenship of the kingdom of heaven. It’s that we need to flee the realm of darkness we’re in outside of Christ.

Outside of Christ, we’re lost in the dark. We cannot find our way, even if we want to. But thankfully, Jesus came to look for us and to save us, to bring us into the light. He finds us in our lostness, and if we cry out to Him for salvation, He saves us from it.

“Father in heaven, we’re so thankful You sent Your Son to seek and save us in our lostness. We cry out to You to continue Your work of seeking and saving, and to help us be good witnesses of Your goodness. In Christ’s name, amen”

Sight

“What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.”

Luke 18:41 ESV

https://bible.com/bible/59/luk.18.41.ESV

If we’re honest, our natural reaction when we see a beggar is to cross by the other side of the road. Maybe we give some coins, or better, food and drink, but that’s about the extent of our kindness. We find abject poverty to be an uncomfortable embarrassment.

Jesus was very different to us however. Not only did He go out of His way to see this beggar, but He basically gave him a blank cheque- “what do you want me to do for you?” We wouldn’t dare to ask such a thing of a beggar!

The question was a bit of a no brainer on a superficial level- of course the blind man wanted to see! But for Jesus to be able to offer sight to the blind is something that no ordinary man can do. Only God can open the eyes of the blind.

Thankfully, as we know the heart of Christ, He opened the eyes of the blind man, commending his faith. That man wasn’t so superficial as to leave it at that. He became a follower of Christ, even as He set His face towards Jerusalem and crucifixion. He glorified and praised the God who made him well.

“Oh Lord God, glory and praise is due to You for Your opening the eyes of the blind. Thank You for opening our spiritual eyes to see the beauty of Christ, and to trust in Him. Help us to follow Him all our days, in His name, amen”

21st Century Beatitudes

Beati-what? You may ask! The Beatitudes are a series of blessings, or pronouncements of gladness, that Jesus spoke over certain groups of people.

Here’re the originals-

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:3‭-‬12 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/mat.5.3-12.ESV

And here are my 21st Century beatitudes:

“You have heard that it’s said, “too blessed to be stressed”; but I say to you, “Blessed are the stressed, for they will be relieved”

You have heard it said, “Blessed are the private jet owners”; but I say to you, “Blessed are those who sell their private jets, give their money to the poor, and come, follow Christ, for they will have treasures in heaven”. In fact, woe to them who own private jets because they’ve stored up for themselves treasures on earth, where rust destroys and thieves steal, and haven’t invested in the kingdom of heaven.

Happy are the sad, for they will be consoled.

Sad are the rich, because money can’t buy happiness

Happy are the hungerers and the thirsters for God, for He delights to fill their hearts with joy.

We hold these truths to be self evident- that all are equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of God, who is the source of all happiness and joy.

Happy are those whose raison d’etre is God, for He makes us happy.

But sad are those who search for meaning in happiness, because outside of God it’s just a transient emotion that comes and goes depending on all sorts of factors like circumstances and chemicals in the brain.

Joyful can be the unhappy; because joy is a virtue that transcends fickle emotions.”

I’ll stop now because it’s late and I’m rambling. How did Jesus manage to be so succinct and yet so profound? Amazing!

Unreliability

Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.
Psalms 146:3‭-‬4 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/psa.146.3-4.ESV

This image is from when my wife and I visited London a couple of years ago, posing by a statue of Nelson Mandela. I though of the verses because however great a man is, his moment to die will come, unless Christ returns first. However reliable and dependable someone might be in their life, when they die they’re of no use to anyone…

… apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, who defeated death so that all who trust in Him may have eternal life. To Him be the praise, forever and ever, amen!

The second best photo I ever took!

waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!
2 Peter 3:12 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/2pe.3.12.ESV

This is probably the second best photo I ever took, of the setting sun through a condensed window, which makes the sun look like it’s melting!

So of course, this photo reminds me of the accompanying verse, and of the transience of so much of what we hold dear.

The best photo I ever took!

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.
Isaiah 40:8 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/isa.40.8.ESV

I wouldn’t even consider myself an amateur photographer, but if I see something nice, I often try to photograph it. This poppy was nice, and the fact the hoverfly decided to pose makes what would have been an average photo into the best I ever took. Yes, it’s grainy and not amazing, but I like it!

Also, it reminded me of this verse. I may not quite have immortalised that poppy, but it will have withered and died there in Yorkshire Sculpture Park several years ago.

God’s word on the other hand is truly immortal and will stand the test of time, when all creation has passed away.

Youth

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
1 Timothy 4:12 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/1ti.4.12.ESV

A word on the picture. This was me several years ago, about to preach at Airedale Gospel Hall in West Yorkshire. I was young at the time, I don’t consider myself to be any more, as a thirty year old. But the call to godliness still applies to middle aged people as much as to the young. May I be so, to the praise of God’s glory, amen!