John T. Willis

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The People of God--God's Patient--I

A fifth metaphor the Bible uses to describe the people of God is God's patient. This metaphor contains two basic assumptions: (1) Human beings are sick people who desperately need spiritual healing; and (2) God is the ONLY DOCTOR or PHYSICIAN that can heal those who are spiritually sick.

When God appeared to Isaiah at the Jerusalem temple in the year that king Uzziah died (742 B. C.)as a king sitting on his throne (Isaiah 6:1-4), Isaiah responded: "Woe is me! For I am lost! For I am A MAN OF UNCLEAN LIPS, and I live in the midst of A PEOPLE OF UNCLEAN LIPS, for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts" (Isaiah 6:5). "A person or people of unclean lips" is a leprous person or people (see Leviticus 13-14, for example, 13:45); in other words, a person or people who is spiritually sick and thus in need of healing or cleansing. A seraph came to Isaiah with a live coal in his hand, with which he touched Isaiah's unclean mouth and said: "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and yoursin atoned for" (Isaiah 6:6-7); demonstrating that the issue here was spiritual sickness, that is, sin. Then Isaiah said: "Here am I; send me" [to this sick people]; to which God responded:
"Go and tell this people:
'Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.'
Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and BE HEALED."
God's people here are described as people who have a heart problem, an eye problem, and an ear problem. They need to go to a doctor who knows how to deal with these sicknesses and heal them. The ONLY DOCTOR who can do this is God. Therefore, they must come to him if they ever expect healing.
Martin Luther referred to the church as "a hospital for sinners." All who come to God knowing they are terminal spiritual cancer patients and believing that he alone can heal them receive his grace and become members of his people. There are no well people in the kingdom of God; only sick people; only sinners. And no one or nothing can heal their illnesses but God himself, the Great Physician.

[More to come]

John Willis

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Purpose of Life--That I Be Entertained

Has anyone noticed that in our society in the Western world, there is a craze for being entertained? Listen to the things people say. It is common to hear a fellow-worker say: "I live for the weekend, when I can stay home and watch a good football game, or when I can go fishing, or when I can take in the latest movie." It is typical of a teacher to say: "I can put up with these students Monday through Friday, because when I get off Friday afternoon, I am going on a weekend trip, or I am going skiing, or I am going to a play in the big city." You name a person's work; often that person LIVES to be entertained in one way or other; that person EXPECTS to be entertained; that person feels he/she has been DEPRIVED of a necessity (or the necessities) of life if he/she is not entertained.

Watch what people do if they lose possessions which they purchased or were given for the specific purpose of entertaining them: boats, camping or skiing or fishing or hunting gear, video games, CDs, DVDs--and the list goes on and on. They feel their lives just cannot go on without these "necessities." After all, isn't the purpose of life that I be entertained? Jesus' parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:16-21 speaks volumes to this western obsession with being entertained:

"The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy: eat, drink and be merry."' But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' This is how it will be with ANYONE WHO STORED UP THINGS FOR HIMSELF, but is not rich toward God."

The People of God--God's Kingdom--VII

A fifth term the Bible uses for the earthly king whom God sets up over his people is "servant." For example, after God sent the prophet Nathan to David to tell him that he would establish David's dynasty for a long time to come, and that he [David] would not build the temple but that his son Solomon would do so, David prayed a beautiful prayer of thanksgiving and petition to God, recorded in 2 Samuel 7:18-29. In this passage, David refers to himself as "God' servant" ten times. Referring to the events related in 2 Samuel 7, Psalm 89:20 quotes God as saying:
"I have found David MY SERVANT;
with my holy oil I have anointed him."

The modern western mind finds it very difficult to understand and accept this concept. To many in the modern world, a king or a ruler is a LEADER of God's people. But in the Bible, God through Jesus Christ is the ONLY LEADER; all others, including the earthly king of Israel, are God's followers, God's servants, Jesus' disciples, etc.

When Solomon replaced David as king of Israel, he went to Gibeon, where he uttered his great prayer asking God for wisdom to rule his people. In that prayer, Solomon refers to David (1 Kings 3:6) and himself (Solomon; 1 Kings 3:7-9 [three times]) as God's "servant."

The law concerning the king in Deuteronomy 17:14-20 makes clear the biblical view of the earthly king. Among other things, God through Moses states: "[the earthly king must] not consider himself better than his brothers." How opposite this way of thinking is to modern thinking and teaching on "leadership!" In the modern world, THE POINT of being a "leader" is to be acknowledged as "superior" to other people in society, to make decisions for other people, to control other peoples' lives, and to tell other people how to worship, how to live, how to think, and how to talk. Such notions are not only different from the biblical view; they diametrically contradict the biblical view of "leadership." Biblically, the "earthly king" of God's people is a "servant" of God [who is the ONLY REAL KING], of the people, and of humankind.

[More to come]