Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Sin and washing my gi

Last night someone managed to rub their bike chain against my new white BJJ gi (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu uniform). I was annoyed to say the least. It was on the back of the pants near my backside, where the jacket would probably cover, but I'd always know it was there. Accident, but very annoying.

After spraying it with a stain remover, soaking it and then washing it, I still needed to apply some soap and elbow grease before the stains came out, and then another machine wash to rinse it through. As I was scrubbing, it came to me that just as I would never be satisfied with a gi that had a stain on it, black standing out on white - that sin spoils our character, who we are as people made in God's image. As I scrubbed I realised both the significance of the cross in erasing our sin, and the ongoing nature of scrubbing known as sanctification. It takes real effort to erase our sinful habits and inclinations, and sometimes we ourselves can't remove the consequences - there are marks always to remind us even if the stain is largely gone. We have to await the final washing, the bringing to completion of that which was begun in us; hence these two texts:

Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool." (NASB)

Achieved on the cross.

Philippians 1:6

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (NASB)

So start scrubbing!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

A matter of trust

23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. 24 But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, 25 and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man. (NASB)

Billy Joel had a song (showing my age here) called A matter of trust. It's a typical love song of boy meets girl, girl has been hurt and needs boy to show he he isn't a jerk. Girl needs to trust boy. 

Today's passage is in a way something that blows apart the whole WWJD (what would Jesus do?) thing. I don't think we are called to follow Jesus precisely in this. Let's have a look why.

Jesus was doing signs - things that pointed beyond themselves to the fact he was Israel's Messiah/Christ/King and God pitching his tent with his people Israel. Of course we can do things that point towards this too - mostly our love for one another, perhaps some times signs in the form of miracles, and the way in which we love other people.

On the basis of what Jesus was doing, people believed in his name - but everything we see from the gospels shows us that this belief was very limited to Jesus as the King they wanted, rather than the king they were getting. They saw the signs but didn't see past them. It is hoped that when people look at Christians they can see beyond them to Jesus. Very often we get in the way - either because we do not reflect Jesus very much or if we do, we try and take the credit, hence people believe in our name. Neither are we to do, and in the context of this passage not really being WWJD, we should definitely not have people believe in our name.

So why did Jesus not entrust himself to people? Because he knew them. They would not understand his mission until it was done, were not prepared for a suffering Messiah, a crucified God. They were not ready. Do we entrust ourselves to people? Most certainly. Share you plans and dreams in God. Christ has come and the time for hiding is over (except perhaps in countries where persecution is rife). Yes many might think us mad (in and outside of the church) for our dreams - be they building new orphanages in Japan, publishing books on science and faith, representing Jesus in the grappling world - whatever your dream. Yes we know what is in people, but because Christ new that and let them lead him to a cross, we can and at times should entrust ourselves to others, all the more with those who might share our dreams.