Thursday, April 2, 2009

Michael Adee's answer about last words and following Jesus 2

"Jesus answered , 'The foremost is 'Hear O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And the second is this 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these.'" (Mark 29-31)

In my last posting I wrote of Michael Adee’s question about the last word on what it means to be Presbyterian, a Christian and a follower of Jesus Christ. His choice was between two statements by pastors in the PC(USA). According to Adee one statement was positive the other negative.

The pastors, Ron Scates of Highland Presbyterian Church and the other Kathy Collier of First Presbyterian Church in Forney were both speaking about the passage of amendment B in Grace Presbytery in Texas.

Scates spoke of his serious concerns about the future of the Church in America. He suggested that when such an amendment passed the Presbyterian Church would fly apart. Collier felt it was time for GLBTs to be ordained in the Presbyterian Church and saw this as God’s desire. She stated “this is the God who calls us to be open, loving and welcoming to all of God's children --- and that all of us are God's children, part of God's good creation, not just some of us.” (Emphasis Adee’s)

Adee went on to demean Scates’ statement writing “In many ways, the contrast between Collier and Scates' statements may indeed reflect and reveal two profoundly different understandings of God's creation, faith, Scripture, ministry and what it means to be the Church. Frankly, I see, experience and feel "grace" in one and "law" in the other.” (Emphasis Adee’s)

Adee answered his question about which is the best picture of Presbyterians, Christians and followers of Jesus. “For me, Jesus paints the picture for all of us as recorded in the Gospel of Mark 12: 28 - 31 when he was asked what was the most important commandment. Jesus said: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all of your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Emphasis Adee’s)

And of course his answer is right! But he has picked the wrong person to image that picture with their words. R. Alan Cole in his commentary on Mark writes of these verses:

“In this summary, the heart of true religion is seen to lie, not in negative commands, but in a positive loving attitude to God and others. This is the Pauline ‘liberty’ of the New Testament (Gal. 5:1) This is what Augustine means by saying ‘love and do as you like,’ for such love towards God and others will do nothing to work them hurt and, if we love God, what we like and choose will be to do God’s will and pleasure (Ps. 40:8). That is why Paul can say ‘Love is the fulfilling of the law’ (Rom.13:10).”

God’s will and pleasure is to bring the sinner home, to transform the sinner, to give abundant life to repentant sons and daughters.

Sometimes Christians in their love of Christ find that doing the will of God, bending to his pleasure, means taking the lonely road. Like the prophets who loved God, and certainly loved God’s people, their words sometimes must warn with sorrow. And beyond the warning, love for God and others leads the Christian to proclaim a message of Grace. Not antinomianism, not the right to live outside the will of God, not cheap grace but the costly grace of Christ.

Grace enfolds the sinner in love, God’s love. It does not leave her to the howling wolves or the dark side of human nature. Instead it leads her to the cross of Jesus Christ. I would recommend Scates' picture of the Church to any evangelism committee working on outreach in their community, to a confirmation class or youth group. Why?

Because sometimes in order to say I love you to our brothers and sisters as well as the unbeliever, we have to say this is wrong and the Father loved you enough to allow his Son to die for you.

"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Gal 5:1)

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