The opening words of the Book of Psalms are: “Blessed is the man…” Who is this prototype of a blessed man? What traits does he possess? And is it possible for each of us to be such a person?
First, there is the negative side. This blessed man does not walk “in the counsel of the ungodly.” There are plenty of people in this world who will give you bad advice on how to live your life. But the only correct way to live is to follow the Creator’s manual, that is, the Bible. Also, this blessed man does not stand “in the way of sinners.” He does not follow the bad example of others in their speech, dress, behavior, entertainment, etc. Exodus 23:2 warns, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.” Proverbs 1:10 offers this advice, “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.” And further this blessed man does not sit “in the seat of the scornful.” Today’s English Version translates it this way – nor does he “join those who make fun of God.” It’s not uncommon at all in our world for people to ridicule God and religion. Of course, we must never condone such. (Psalm 1:1)
Second, there is the positive side. The blessed man delights in God’s word – “But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” (Psalm 1:2) In stark contrast to following the counsel of the ungodly he lets God’s word be his meditation, counselor and guide.
And what’s the result? His will be a fruitful, blessed life. Just as surely as “a tree planted by the rivers of water” is fruitful, even so the man who plants his life upon the word of God will enjoy a rewarding life. (Psalm 1:3)
It is fortunate that we live in a community in which the citizenry for the most part holds to the basic tenets of Christianity. But at the same time we often hear well-meaning statements with which we do not totally agree. The other day one such statement was made to me. It went something like this: “It really doesn’t matter what church you go to so long as you have a commitment to Jesus.” So what are we to make of such a statement? Can we give a hardy, “Amen” or does it contain a fundamental flaw?
First, let me say that it is a wonderful thing when anyone, anywhere has a commitment to Jesus. But then let me hasten to add that that is just the starting point. Those really committed to Jesus will spend a lifetime searching the Scriptures to know the way of the Lord more perfectly. Furthermore, as we come to a better understanding of God’s word, we make changes in our personal life in order to conform to it more perfectly. This is generally understood and accepted with regard to one’s personal life.
But the same is also true of our church life. Since churches do differ in both doctrine and practice, it is inevitable that some people, as they study the Scriptures, will find that the church of their forefathers, or the church that first introduced them to Jesus, is not adhering as closely as they should to God’s Word. What then should one do? Certainly we should always have the courage to step out and be a part of the church that most closely adheres to the teachings of Jesus.
Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to leaven in these words: “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.” (Matthew 13:33)
There seems to be at least two ways in which the kingdom of heaven works as leaven. First, it acts as leaven in its influence on the world. The world in which we now live is far different from what it would have been had the message of the kingdom not been proclaimed. Second, the kingdom of heaven acts as leaven in our individual lives. Just as the leaven in dough changes it, even so the message of the kingdom changes our lives.
Understanding this principle, there are two things we should be doing. First, we should take the message of the kingdom into our own heart and life – thereby letting it change us to be as God would have us to be. Second, we should be spreading the message of the kingdom wherever we can thereby causing the kingdom to grow and increase in the earth.
To the editor:
The cartoon on the editorial page of the Jan. 22 edition of the Enterprise showed a preacher in the pulpit declaring to his congregation, “ and if you ignore Crusades, the Inquisition, witch burnings, Planned Parenthood bombings, and gay bashing, we Christians are appalled by religious extremism.”
The apparent intent of the author seems to be to paint all Christians as religious extremists. Admittedly, there have been some pretty horrible crimes down through the ages perpetrated by people who called themselves Christians, but I submit to you that a tree is known by its fruits.
To suggest that all Christians are prone to violence and hate and extremism is, in my humble opinion, way off the mark. The word “Christian” means Christ-like. What was Christ like? He was about as harmless an individual as ever walked the earth. He went about doing good, preaching and teaching and healing. He had a servant heart and ministered to the downtrodden, the poor, and the outcasts. The most violent thing he ever did was to overturn some tables. He taught people to love their neighbor as themselves; he taught people to treat others as they would like to be treated; he taught people that vengeance was reserved for God; he taught people to love their enemies and pray for those who are abusive, to turn the other cheek, and to be forgiving. His marching orders were to go into all the world and to preach the gospel.
The atrocities cited by the cartoonist may have been committed by religious people who wore the name of Christ, but surely people of discernment can recognize fakes from the real thing