June 20

Jeremiah 10-13, Psalm 17

In a recent hotly contested debate in the Church of England concerning gay marriage which narrowly voted against it, members who voted for gay marriage stated, "it was "grudging and condescending", "divorced from reality" and made the Church look "unkind" and homophobic." Many Episcopal churches in the United States, proudly hang the banner for gay pride outside their church, affirming their commitment for gay marriage. We must wonder whether Jesus, Himself, would be welcomed in most Episcopal churches or labeled homophobic when He clearly states His position on marriage as described in Matthew 19:4-6. Recently the Vatican stated that Jewish people can be saved without Jesus Christ. This goes against everything that Jesus said, especially since all of His ministry while on earth was directed toward the Jewish people. We must wonder if Jesus were to state in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.", whether He would be welcomed into the Catholic Church or the Vatican or would He be labeled as divisive and intolerant. Would His statements to Nicodemus in John 3, which specifically call Nicodemus, a prominent leader of the Sanhedrin, to be born again be deemed as too harsh or fanatical. The Megachurch movement with it's prominent preachers who preach prosperity and minimize harsh statements about many sins have become extremely popular moving away from the authority of the Bible and becoming more "relevant". We must wonder whether Jesus would be welcomed in their churches with His many statements of dealing radically with sin, such as his statements against adultery in Matthew 5:27-30, using terms such as cutting off one's hand and plucking out one's eye. We must wonder how well received His message in Matthew 5:11-12 would be received, "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Jesus did not preach earthly prosperity, the blessings that He spoke about were not focused on material things.

When Jeremiah preached his sobering message that Judah would be taken away into captivity by the Babylonians, it was not received well. In fact, it was taken so poorly, that they plotted to take his life to stop him from speaking. This would be understandable if his message was being delivered to a secular group only. We read in the opening verse in Jeremiah 1:1, "The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin,". Anathoth was a priestly city, one of the cities designated for the Levites. But it was this very group, the religious establishment, which desired to snuff out the words of Jeremiah. We read in Jeremiah 11:21-23, "Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the men of Anathoth who seek your life, saying, 'Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord, lest you die by our hand'-therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: 'Behold, I will punish them. The young men shall die by the sword, their sons and their daughters shall die by famine; and there shall be no remnant of them, for I will bring catastrophe on the men of Anathoth, even the year of their punishment.' " We must never forget that the crime that Jesus was ultimately convicted for, issued by the High Priest of Jerusalem, was stated in Matthew 26:65-66, "Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, "He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! What do you think?" They answered and said, "He is deserving of death."

We must all step back and ask ourselves whether or not Jesus would be welcomed in our church? Would He be labeled by the leaders and those in the congregation as a homophobe? as intolerant? as too negative? as not relevant? If the Author of our faith and His views were rejected, how can these same individuals and houses of worship be called Christian. Many like to quote a leader or an "intelligent" theologian against doctrines which were so clearly presented in Scripture. They take a position of that individual's opinion over that presented in the Word of God. This was the exact stance which led to the death and persecution of the prophets, the apostles, millions of Christians throughout the centuries, and most importantly to Jesus, Himself. Whatever denomination any of us belong to, we must never elevate the word of man over the word of God. I love that our pastor, Lloyd Pulley, sincerely states that if anyone ever feels that he misrepresents or misstates anything from the Bible, like the Bereans in Acts 17:10-12, they should approach him with their concerns. To remain Biblically illiterate is to one's own peril. The reason for the One Year Bible Challenge is to promote people to base their faith on the unchanging and unwavering Word of God, not on the position of any man or church. May we all grow in our knowledge and love in Jesus Christ and hold firm on this Rock in a world which largely rejects and does not know Him

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster