Jesus answered, “I am telling you the truth: if a person is not born from the water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God!” John 3:5 (Simple English Bible)
I visited our translator today. Sitting in Thompson Ntobie’s small office was a visitor and Thompson. The guest was the son of an elderly man whom we’d helped. Ntobie and I drove a man to his home — fifteen years ago, I offered to take this older man back to Slangrivier (Snake River), an isolated community a few hundred miles from Cape Town through the mountains. The man had come to Cape Town to visit his adult kids but due to adverse circumstances, was now without means to return to his elderly wife. Thompson and I had a long discussion with him while we drove and dropped him off at his front door.
His son, the man now sitting in Thompson’s office, had come to thank us. His father had died ten years previously and had always been grateful that someone had helped in his hour of need. His father had told everyone in the small little village about our kindness and that we were Christians. And today, there was Ntobie, explaining this verse in John’s gospel to the son.
I sat with them for awhile as the Scriptures were taught in Afrikaans. The son was sure that he’d already been “baptised” in the Anglican church when he was a baby. Thompson explained why this wasn’t what Jesus was talking about — just like the example that Christ gave in the Jordan River being immersed, so we too must follow.
Right now, I don’t know what the result of their discussion will be. But I do know this: small things, perhaps inconvenient things, maybe even sacrifical things can make the difference in someone’s life. I don’t know if the man’s father had ever accepted the Lord but I do know that today his son has heard the truth of the Word. The seed has been sown.
One by one. One on one.
“Be strong! Have all the strength of His glorious power. Then you will be able to endure anything. You will learn patience with joy.” Col 1:11 (Simple English Bible)
A good friend is jammed in a crisis and she is struggling daily to cope with giving up smoking, medical problems and trouble at work. She has asked for my prayers during this time. Yet throughout it all, this woman is keeping her balance because of her daughters and loving husband. Because they care for her, lover her and pick her up despite he foul temper and unreasonable anger, she is coping.
We face so many difficulties in the world. Whenever we manage to shut the door on all the hype, intrusions and outright sinfulness, it comes through the windows!
But how much more will our Father in Heaven care, love and pick us up when we feel that we’re besieged and forgotten by everyone else? All may fail but Jesus never will! We are promised the strength of His glorious power — the same power that created the Universe, rose Jesus from the dead and saved us. Now, that is REAL power!
And because we can rely on our God, we can have patience with joy. I love that phrase: patience with joy. What a tremendous blessing in a world gone mad. What a rock solid promise when friends and family fail us. What a great hope when our fellow Christians turn their backs on us.
It’s yours, too: patience with joy.
“Christainity hasn’t been found tried and wanting, it’s been found to be difficult and left untried.” A wise man
A young woman in one of my classes was astounded to learn that I didn’t obey the Ten Commandments. She did understand that as a Christian, I am free of the law of Moses but, for some reason, felt that God’s Ten Laws issued on Mt Sinai still ruled over Christians today.
There’s a vast different between Law and grace. If we were still Jews, living under the Law of Moses, it’d be okay for me to hate my neighbor as along as I didn’t kill him. “You shall not murder”, right? But under grace, Christ set the principles of righteous living — He said that if I hated my neighbor, I’d already committed murder in my heart!
That’s a much more difficult way to live in the world because it requires a change of HEART instead of blind obedience. I am now required to think carefully before I speak or act to ensure that my lifestyle and attitudes are in line with God’s amazing grace. I must enact the compassion of my Savior and see my contribtuion to His will in spiritual discernment.
Yes, we are freed from the Mosaic Law or any other spiritual regulation, rule or ritual made up by groups, churches or men. That’s the good news. The bad news is that we’ll be judged by our attitude and resultant actions.
And that’s a whole lot tougher than obeying the speed limit.
But it’s who we are.