April Article

“But as the church is subject to Christ…”   Ephesians 5:24a

Our family dog is inconsistent in his obedience. He enjoys the perks of food, water, comfy living, grooming and attention, but disobeys in ways that stretch my patience and kindness. He never asks for forgiveness, and stubbornly stays with his patterns. I’m supposed to not take offense. He knows the behaviors I want, and there’s been training, but he is often caught disobeying in dog-flesh with a rebel dog-spirit. For me, it’s not a great relationship. I believe he’s ok with the present arrangement.

Maybe this column has gone to the dogs, but I find a similarity in our resistance for obedience to our Lord.

We love “freedom in Christ” but we often do not place Christ and the Word first in defining the parameters of that freedom. Today, calls for obedience that are dissonant with our perceived freedoms in personal time, family time, priorities, and otherwise doing what we please are dismissed as “narrow”,  “conservative” or “legalistic.” We toss around the strategies of boundaries and balance, offering these as the reasonable rationale for our disobedience. After all, we are educated, you know.

We love to remind our kids to obey us (Ephesians 6:1). We love messages about how Christ was obedient for our benefit (Philippians 2:8). We teach others that He as a man learned obedience to the Father (Hebrews 5:8). We get almost patriotic seeing the apostles resist pressure to obey man and disobey God (Acts 4:19, 5:29).

Reading John 14:15-26, it is apparent that obedience is not our summation, but His. Perhaps you find assurance that all is good, and maybe it’s me that needs to lighten up.

But maybe, just maybe for us all, there’s a lesson here to learn, before things go to the dogs.

March Article

“For I also am a man placed under authority…”  Luke 7:8a

A centurion understood the mantle of authority. We can learn from a Roman officer, growing together as the body of Christ.

Authorities are everywhere! We know civil authorities. These are to function without prejudice, performing their weighty duties, whether officers who enforce laws,  or judges who preside over legal issues. Political authorities have competing ideologies for their jurisdictions. General authorities surface for everything else.

Whom can you trust? Our difficulty becomes that of discernment; the  qualifications, opinions and veracity of “authorities” are uneven.

Back to the centurion: it’s a good step to recognize one with real authority. The bigger step is to place oneself—willingly—under that authority. The temptation is to follow one who suits your views and prejudices, though that path is fraught with dangers.

For the body—believers in the Son of God, Jesus—the issue should be settled. We confess Him now, not just at the last when at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:10-11

We must choose obedience, for “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)

What He declares, we are to be. What He confirms, we dare not alter. What He encourages, we emulate. What He demonstrates, we make our pattern for living.

Is He one among many authorities you consider, or is He The Authority you submit to? Your answer makes all the difference, now and eternally.

Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” Luke 9:35

February Article

…Him who is the head, even Christ… Ephesians 4:15b

I saw her. Immense, seeming to float on her warship now poised over the landing of the Louvre’s Daru staircase. The pinnacle of Hellenistic sculpture; a classic replicated in museums and public spaces all over the globe.

Did Paul see her in her original home, on his Acts 16:11 stop? Had he contemplated the Sanctuary of the Great Gods where she stood? Had he spoken to those worshiping idols of stone, guarded by this angel of stone?

In seeing her, you’ll not forget one detail: The Winged Victory of Samothrace is missing her head.

In our unity as the Body, we are to function as the Lord directs. Cornerstone has our identity in Christ alone. It is imperative—call it nonnegotiable—that we follow no other. We seek Him in prayer, the Word, and the leading of His Spirit. We do so corporately—one Body with one Head.

The church in every age experiences pressure to leave off Christ’s headship. Other “heads” beckon with their body agenda: pursue “acceptable” alliances, adopt more “reasonable” ideas, accept syncretic practices, embrace trendy priorities, worship market-driven methods and formulas.

Among Christians adrift, Christ is relegated to the headless relic of the church’s past. The body falls in step with a dominant head now directing. Things get done. Man is celebrated. Christ is denigrated. When the head changes, a new route is chosen; the body falls in step again.

Those abandoning Christ do so to terrible judgment one day. We will all stand before Him who is

…head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. Colossians 1:18

For Cornerstone, our Head remains. We remain resolved to follow only Him.