Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Compromising Jesus

How much do you love Jesus? The majority of Christians would say, “I love Him a lot.” Some would even say, “I love Him more than anything!” But if we pressed the question to get a more specific answer, we may be surprised.  In the passage below, the Lord Jesus had brought healing to a man who sat begging daily at the gate called “Beautiful.” Peter and John were the hands through which he worked, and were now being called upon the carpet by the well educated Jerusalem religious leaders of the day. Peter and John’s message:
12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12 (NKJV)

These religious leaders and their entourage could not stomach the words of Peter and John, yet they knew a man had been made well and that these words were accompanied by power. But because the crowds were beginning to follow Christ and their power over the masses was at stake, they had to make a decision and that they did.

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.
14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.
15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,
16 saying, "What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.
17 But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name."
18 And they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.
20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."
Acts 4:13-20 (NKJV)

The choice of the religious leaders was evident. They were being asked to believe that salvation was through Christ alone. Their answer…, “We will hear no more. Depart from us and speak no more in His name.” The admonition was one as if it was coming from the Supreme Court, for these men were also of the Sanhedrin, the high court of Israel. Their statements were weighty and carried their own power of separation—a separation from anything that may disrupt their power base and control over the masses.

The sword of Christ cuts deep. If I asked the same question again, as in the beginning, giving some context to what Jesus taught, would you still answer in the same way? Would you still say, “I love Him more than anything?” The intersection of truth and error always brings division. There is a road to the left and a road to the right. But there is no road to nowhere, for we all must make a decision. In the eyes of Jesus you are either with Him or you are separated.

In our day and age, it is easy for one to say, “I believe in Christ, but I also believe that there are other ways to heaven.” The road to compromise is smooth at the outset, but once you travel upon it you find it becomes full of holes, curves, and bumps. But, on that road you will meet Jesus, possibly in the open speaking to His church, or at an intersection, and you will greet Him and those who are with Him. But you move on. A little later you will meet your friends in compromise, those who say they too know Jesus, but they also have other friends. There you will greet them and begin to mingle, sometimes in the open and sometimes in the inconspicuous space. Again, Jesus passes by and He says, “Come, follow me.” But compromise says “No, I cannot do it at the moment, for I am entertaining my friends, but when the activities are over, I will catch up.” Later, when the festivities cease you find you are in a hole and you notice it has grown deep and you are in need that someone may pull you out. You look, and your friends are all gone. You call out but there is no answer. Now you are alone and the opportunity for freedom has also passed. Your response to His invitation keeps running through your mind, over and over, as it ignites its own little hell within your mind. Soon you are sick and consumed. Jesus said, “Come, follow.” And you said, “No, I am busy. My business is most important.”

I wonder how many times we let the opportunities of a lifetime pass us by. Jesus bids, “Come” and we say,”I will catch up.” You know in your heart that He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 (ESV) But you are repulsed by His arrogance, as you turn to laugh with your friends of business, saying, “I like many of the other things He says, but He is going a little too far here.” But the laughter now has faded and you are alone. At Jesus’ words, the sword had fallen and you had the opportunity to make the right choice, but you said, “No, I cannot. I do not believe You Jesus. There are other ways …there must be for there are other religions.”

How often does our compromise point out Jesus as a liar? In His own words Jesus stated:
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’
23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV)

In the Greek there is a word often used in the Scripture which is ὑποκριτής, which translates to hypocrite in English. It is often defined as an acting term. Broken down it is an amalgam of the Greek prefix hypo-, meaning "under", and the verb "krinein", meaning "to sift or decide". Thus the original meaning implied a deficiency in the ability to sift or decide. I love how those two words compounded give us a picture of indecisiveness. The pull of the world tugs us one way and the pull of the Spirit tugs us another. The hypocrite is truly indecisive because she desires the one yet clings to the other. She can never make up her mind, so she play-acts. But Jesus is not indecisive and He knows our mind. We cannot fool Him. He knows there can only be one true decision. He says in another place:

26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. John 10:26-28 (NKJV)  

Compromising with the world and denying the words of Christ as true are the earmarks of hypocrisy. And the one who practices them knows this, so does the Lord.

So what can we do? Now that we have dug a hole of compromise too large to climb out of and our friends are not responding to our pleas, where can we turn? Is there a place?

Remember, occasionally that road we travel intersects the place where Jesus lives, walks, and breathes. And if you are still reading this, then there is still hope. Jeremiah the prophet once wrote:

22 Through the LORD'S mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
24 "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!" Lamentations 3:22 (NKJV)

No hole is too big and no path is too crooked that Christ cannot scale it. All you need to do square up with the message of Peter and John and realize He is the only way! If you do not, your life will be one path of continual compromise and, although you will get a glimpse of jesus as he passes by, you will always say, “I will catch up later!”

While there is time, why not turn your heart to Him today!