Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Jesus saves and everything else is noise

Matthew 15:29-39 (NIV)

Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”

His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”

“How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.

“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”

He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.
I got into a somewhat lengthy Facebook discussion tonight with two other Christians about science and religion. We all went to high school together and grew up in the same church, but it would be safe to say we’ve each gone different ways theologically since then. A lot can happen in 15 years, and there are lots of factors that can shape a person’s views.

There’s no real point in rehashing the specifics of the debate or our particular backgrounds/stances. I didn’t especially want to write about it publicly, but then I started looking at today’s scriptures and the first passage I read tells of Jesus’ healing and miracles. Since the miracles and resurrection factored into the Facebook dialogue, I felt the Matthew passage was something of an invitation to carry the sentiment forward here — especially since one of the things laying in wait for me as a parent is how to discuss these issues with the kids when they start asking questions of this nature.

I’ve already bristled somewhat at reading some of the “kid” Bible stories to the boys, and perhaps that’s strictly because I don’t feel comfortable with the, “Dad, did that guy really get swallowed by a fish” questions, or at least my ability to provide an answer that won’t do more harm than good. I know recent years have seen publication of newer books attempting to help parents read the Bible to their very young children in new and different ways, but I must admit I’ve not done a very good job availing myself of those resources, or even taking the time to figure out which might work the best for our kids and the way they learn. Instead I just read “The Cat in the Hat” for 13 straight nights and call it good.

Going back to the Facebook discussion, my stance boiled down to this: “Jesus died for my sins. Nothing is more important.” A secondary stance: “We agree on Jesus. Let’s focus more on sharing His story than haggling over issues of less consequence.”

Some might call that a copout, suggesting it offers the chance to conveniently accept what I want and reject what I don’t. I’m not here to dispute those claims because I have neither the energy nor the desire to go toe to toe with a fellow believer about the finer points of things we won’t ever really understand anyway because we’re not God.

Jesus died for my sins. He died for my wife, for my kids, for all of humanity. Eternal life is not deserved, it’s not earned; it’s a free gift of God’s grace, a gift that must be accepted. These, above all else, are the lessons I intend to teach my children. I don’t want anything else in my own life getting in the way of these truths and how they guide my soul, and I hope to instill in my kids the same sentiment.

My gut reaction is everything else is just noise. And perhaps that assessment is overly simplistic. But really, when everything else fades away (and surely it will), is there anything else you’d rather cling to as the essential truth?

A prayer for June 12:

Lord, I thank you for your amazing grace. I acknowledge I am a sinner and I need a savior. I believe Jesus was your Son and he died on the cross for me — for everyone who believes. I commit my life to you, and part of that commitment is sharing your story with my children. I pray for the perception to sense the right times and ways to teach these lessons. I am trying to live my life as a reflection of these beliefs. I can do better, I must do better, I will do better, through you and for you. Amen.

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