Watching the news has become a real chore: what with all the confrontations, opposition and polarization to just about anything. It appears to this writer that there is more effort expended to challenge and oppose everything in the name of partisanship than there is to collaborate and try to work together. I am reminded of one of the many encounters Jesus had with the Pharisees. The Pharisees were the ruling politicians in social circles at the time, the powerful elite, and they always made a big deal of wearing their spirituality on their sleeve and later, they would hide out in the temple at night to play the 5th Century version of playing poker at the country club on Friday nights, stealing from the temple treasury of which they were entrusted, taking care of their own interests and those of their good friends …and the homeless, the needy and those spiritually lost were left with nothing. Not much has changed in the last 2000 years. I would suggest that the Pharisees’ tactics of isolating and polarizing the masses was to their benefit to maintain their status as leaders of the church and the community and subsequently, to keep themselves rich, fat and happy.
Into this good ‘ole boys’ club entered Jesus. In Luke, Chapter 13, we find Jesus being confronted with a question involving the slaughter of a group of Galileans because they messed up a sacrifice. The question was this: Were those killed worse sinners than others? Jesus, according to the Scripture responded by “strongly repudiating common belief” of the idea that God controls every event. Those asking the question thought anyone who was reverent and presented an outward appearance of “holiness” was protected by God. No harm could come to them. Jesus rebuked them saying God allows us free will and anyone can die. The difference, Jesus said, is that those who repent and truly believe in God will not perish but have everlasting life.
“Perish” or “Death” what’s the difference? So much meaning is built into the syntax of these words. Death is the end of all life for a non-believer. For a believer, it is only an earthly departure to a joyful reunion with God. The blood of Jesus Christ washed away the sins of the world. What those pompous Pharisees could not see through their own self-absorbed power fixation was that no intermediary is needed in our relationship with God. Jesus is our guide to our redemption and our eternal life. Through Christ, we will never perish so long as we repent and believe in Him.
Redemption may not protect one from death but it ensures eternal life with God. The Pharisees might as well find something else to do– maybe they can sell the Brooklyn Bridge or some swamp land in Florida. Their gig was up. The distressing truth is that those annoying Pharisees are still around. We don’t call them Pharisees anymore but their self-serving, power-grabbing legacy still exists. One need only attend a public meeting, watch the news or other program on TV or watch the actions of some of our public officials to see that Jesus’ words still fall on deaf ears. At a time when we should be helping those who have nothing, they are brushed aside for icons and façades memorializing the importance of the Pharisees. But out of the dismal ashes of despair there is hope!
This writer believes there is an inherent desire to seek God. One can deny, one can try to run away or one can curse God but God’s love is so much greater than any earthly power. At a time when it seems like the world is not a very nice place to live, we can share the story of redemption and eternal life. Psalm 63:1-8 (ESV) says: “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
Take time to reflect on the sacrifice that God made for us. Rejoice that all we need do is ask forgiveness and believe in Jesus Christ. Renew your promise to be part of Christ’s ministry and through the help of the Holy Spirit, live a life pleasing to God.

About Gary Smith

Chief Smith has served over 31 years in the criminal justice field. He is currently a consultant assisting public and private organizations better establish community goals and ethical conduct with the members of their organizations. Chief Smith serves as a facilitator, lecturer, professor and other capacities both inside and outside the criminal justice field.
This entry was posted in Random Thoughts. Bookmark the permalink.