Meeting For Worship

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Choosing Life and Good or Death and Evil

By Jared Warner

Willow Creek Friends Church

February 12, 2023

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Bofya kusoma kwa Kiswahili

Deuteronomy 30:15–20 (ESV)

15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

Today we have our reading from Deuteronomy. This book is that last book of the Pentateuch, or the last of the five books of Torah. Torah in Hebrew can mean different things. We usually think of Torah as the Law, but there are other meanings. Another word that can be used when translating Torah is directive. I know that this might be mincing words, but there are slight differences. When we think of law, certain images come to mind. Some of us might get the image of the police, a courtroom, maybe even a job. But what comes to mind when we consider the word directive? It comes across in our minds just a bit less harsh, a bit less scary. The reality of the two words is that there is not much difference. They both carry authority, they both give direction. It is just one usually has prescribed consequences.

Image if we were to go to Ikea, and we make a purchase of one of their products. We open the box only to find that there is some assembly required. We are in luck because there is a booklet included that has directions. We know what we are doing, we look at the pieces and we begin to put in screws and anchors. We continue for a while only to find that all of a sudden there is a piece that we cannot seem to get in. What will we do? We open that booklet and we consult the directions. We begin to take things apart and we begin to put this product together step by step, piece by piece. This the concept of directives. It gives a clear and concise method to get the desired results.

What would happen if that little booklet was considered Law instead of directives? This is how I want us to consider Torah today. There is a point where the directions listed in the Ikea package do become law. This is when something goes wrong and we call customer service to demand a replacement. They could examine our construction and determine that the directions were not followed and therefore they are not to be held liable for whatever failure may have occurred. When the directives are not followed, we are responsible for the consequences. We do not face a fine or a potential jail term when we overlook step five in the directions, but we also cannot accuse Ikea of a defective product.

We often look at scripture from the perspective of legality. This is not wrong because there are consequences to actions. But how does this affect our relationship with God?

Deuteronomy is in many ways a reteaching of God’s directives. The word Deuteronomy is from the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures, and literally means copy or second law. When we read the other four books of Torah, we read about how we got to this place. Genesis speaks of creation and God’s purpose and mission for life. It continues to speak of human failure. But there is hope in Genesis because God does not give up on humanity even though it grieves him. We are deceived in the Garden of Eden by the serpent, or if we look at the word for serpent it could be translated as shining one or burning one. The word is like serpent because of the burning pain one receives when a person is bitten by a venomous snake. But these serpents of ancient days were often used to depict the ferocious power of God’s throne guards so in many ancient religious beliefs, the Serpent takes on a supernatural form. Adam and Eve were not just deceived by a snake, they were deceived by a shining one. They were deceived by a supernatural being that they believed to be a servant of the Most High God, but this servant was in rebellion and by its deception we skipped a step in the directions of God and faced the consequence of death. The curse of Adam is not original sin, but death. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, we are told, and the wage of sin is death.

Genesis continues. Humanity failed yet God does not give up. Two more times humanity rises and falls, the result of these failings were the flood and the confusion of the languages. And even through these failures, God remains true. God does not give up on humanity, instead God calls out of the nations of the earth one man through which God will reverse the failures of the Kingdoms of Men and restore what was once lost. From this point the Torah leaves the nations behind and focuses on Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. From this point on God’s revelation comes not to all people but his directives are given to one nation, Israel. And Israel is given the task of being the light to the nations. They are given this task not because they are great in themselves, but because God chose to restore all people, all tribes, and all nations through them.

Genesis begins the story. Exodus continues the story. Leviticus, the book we often skip, we regard as being filled with a myriad of laws, but if we consider the teachings within those directives, we might be able to see them not as law, but as a conversation between a teacher and a student. Then there is the book of Numbers. The title of the book is a bit misleading, because it is not about math, but is instead, this book takes us from the mountain where God made a covenant with the nation of Israel, to the banks of the Jordan where they will soon enter the land promised to them.

The first five books of scripture are not merely law, but teaching. They teach us true humanity and direct us to live with and within creation. They direct us. And Deuteronomy is, in many ways, Moses retelling Israel their story, it is Moses encouraging the people of Israel to remember what they experienced and carry that into the next stage of life. Deuteronomy is the commencement address. You were once children in primary school, you moved on to secondary school and now that you are an adult you will face challenges and struggles. Remember what you were taught and embrace life.

In today’s reading Moses tells the people, “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil” I find this verse interesting. Moses does not say I set before you today right and wrong, correct and incorrect. Instead, he says life and good, death and evil. We can interpret it as right and wrong, but does this really tell the whole story?

Life is a state of being, but it is more than being alive, it is a process. It is thriving. Death is also a state of being and a process. Death is the opposite of life both in the state of being and in the process. If life is thriving, death is withering. I rested on this verse a bit as I approached interacted with these words in prayer. And I considered these states and processes. I reflected on my own life, as I must come to grip with the reality that I am now encouraged by my doctor to watch what I eat. Am I still part of life or am I withering?

I am thankful that I have the background that I have. I grew up on a farm, I know livestock and plants. I know that the young heifers are full of life and energy. They are this weird mix of a calf and an adult cow still wanting to play and yet big enough to cause damage. They are full of life; they are thriving and yet their offspring are rarely the most desirable. Then there are the old cows, sometimes they are barely able to move. They look as if in any moment they just might fall over and break, yet these old cows will often produce wonderful offspring. We look at them as being at death’s door yet they thrive.

As we age, thriving takes on different forms. We might not have the energy we once had when we were teenagers, but that does not diminish our value. We often contribute more than we ever could. Moses begins this section not by saying I set before you right and wrong, but he says life and death. Thriving and withering. It is as if he is telling them, we have embarked on a journey together and now it is time for you to take the lead. If you continue as I have taught you, you will thrive, but if you are distracted and walk a different path, you will begin to wither.

Moses continues, “If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God , by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.”

If you obey the commandments. After is sat in prayer, contemplating the state of my life. I then began to reflect on the commandments. Throughout the Torah there are six hundred and thirteen laws or commandments. As I sat and considered all these laws, I mind was drawn back to a memory from when Kristy was in school. Kristy, as many of you know, is an artist. And artists often look at things in ways that people like me do not. When Kristy was in school many of her classmates were in their studios working on various things. During the studio time of their day I would often spend time with Kristy and her friends. We would talk and laugh. But I remember one of Kristy’s friends was working and I walked by and stopped. I was drawn into this work of art, captivated by it. It was a chair, a large formal chair. A chair that you might see sitting at the front of a church. And this ceremonial chair was covered with cones made from pages of a book, little spikes all over it. This friend, knew who I was and my back ground, she knew that I was a pastor, and she got a bit nervous when I took notice of her art. And I began to ask questions. She had cut pages out of the bible and curled them into these spike and glued them onto this chair, a chair that many members of the clergy would sit upon on a Sunday morning. I loved it. If I had money at the time I would have offered to purchase the chair from her but I was broke. This chair captivated my attention, and I remember asking her which book of scripture she used and begged her to tell me Leviticus. And I asked her how many spikes she had glued on, and she asked me why it mattered. This piece of art, a piece of art that was created to express the negative aspects of religion became a touchpoint where we could have a conversation. I encouraged her to try to get as close to six hundred and thirteen spikes as she could because that is how many laws there are in scripture. And we laughed.

I mention this chair because it looked horrific. It looked like a seat of torture, and yet there was beauty in it. Life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God…

We can use scripture as an instrument as death instead of life. This is why I encourage you to look at scripture as directives instead of law. It is not that I am encouraging you to sin, or to disregard the commandments but I want you to learn and be encouraged by them instead of tortured. If you were to look through the six hundred and thirteen laws, at first you might become overwhelmed. But there is beauty in them. They teach us how to live our lives together. They encourage us to live our lives in balance with nature and with our neighbors. The law, no, the teachings of God if we read them from the mindset of life instead of death can allow us to thrive.

I would love at this moment to go through each of these laws, all of them and explore them. But unfortunately, my son would like to eat sometime today so I will have to leave that for later. We know many of the laws though, we see them blasted all over social media. But have we actually stopped to consider what God is telling us through them? You might be surprised that most of the laws are not actually about sin. You might think of the kosher dietary laws because that is usually a group that we all remember because we do not follow them, but did you know that even though these were part of the law, it was not a sin? Uncleanness was not sin, but exactly what it sounds like health and hygiene. Most of the six hundred and thirteen laws of scripture are the equivalent of the CDC asking us to wash our hands during flu season.

But then there are some laws that seem more important than others. When we think of the law or the commandments what are the first things that come to mind. If you have been to church for any amount of time or if you are a fan of Charlton Heston then the Ten Commandments is the answer. I took a class when I was studying for my master’s degree that explored the ten commandments in depth. To most of us we look at these as a bunch of rules that tell us what we should not do. And yes, that is true, but there is a beauty to them. It might surprise you but the commandments, those ten commandments start a conversation, one that Jesus himself continued in his sermon on the mount. The command not to murder goes beyond the taking of a life, but it speaks to honoring and protecting life. And this is not simply life as the pro-life proponents might say, but life as Moses speaks in today’s passage. The command to not murder is a directive to engage in all the things that will encourage growth. We should not kill, but there are more steps involved, we should protect. We should protect because the person next to us as annoying as they might be, is a bearer of God’s Image. And to take their life is to say to God that we do not respect what was pronounces very good.

As Moses urges us to obey the commandments, he is telling us to stop focusing on ourselves and our own pleasures and passions, but to use those passions to promote continued growth within our communities. “Then you shall live and multiply.” When Jesus was being tested by the various religious leaders, he was asked what the most important commandment is. Jesus replied and said that We should love God with everything we are and all that we have. And to love our neighbor as ourselves. He went on to say that all the law and the prophets are built upon this. All the law hinges on that one teaching. Do not murder, because it is not loving your neighbor as yourself. How should we love our neighbor then? We to start, don’t kill them. But the next step is to encourage them. But how should we encourage them? This takes many forms, and it depends on who they are.

Moses urges us to obey the commandments and we will thrive, but he explains something else too. “But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish.” I want us to stop and think about this for a moment. Consider the command that Jesus gave us. What happens when we do not love our neighbor as ourselves? What happens when a husband does not love his wife as Christ loves the church? What happens when we fail to regard those around us better than we do ourselves? We begin to see things differently. They never give me what I want. They never do the things that I want to do. My needs are not fulfilled. And the list goes on. We begin to argue, we begin to fight. We begin to take people to court demanding that we get what we deserve. This is not always wrong, but is it thriving? Is it promoting life? It sounds a bit shriveled, dry, and dead. It sounds a bit like a chair of spikes instead of a love seat.

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days.”

Imagine, Moses standing on a hill above the valley of the Jordan. Imagine the entire camp of Israel looking at the lush land below. They are peering into their future, a land flowing with milk and honey. A future filled with hope and security. And their leader stands before them with possibility as a backdrop, and he says set before you is life and death, blessing and curse. You get to choose one as you journey forward. You can choose Life or death. Thriving or withering. Blessing or curse.

We can look at the Torah as God’s law or we can look at it as his directives. They both have authority, but they have a different approach. One dictates and the other converses. One discourages and the other encourages. One brings death and the other promotes life. Paul speaks about the law in his letter to the Romans. He says that he would not have known what it is to covet apart from the law, but once he knew that law, sin seized the opportunity and produced in him all kinds of covetousness. And he says, “The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.” How can the commandment promise life but instead bring death?

We choose. Will we encourage, or be consumed with fulfilling our own desires? Will we demand, or will we bless? Close your eyes for a moment and look over the valley that is the promised land. The future, your future is right there within your grasp. Israel walked into that promised land. They claimed it and took possession of it. And they almost immediately turned from the God that brought them out of the land of slavery. They cycled through blessings and curses and have their entire history. And the prophets cried out that it is not sacrifices but justice that God desires. So quickly we turn what is beautiful into something of torture. And why? We are deceived, and we are misguided. We want to be right so badly, that we forget to live. And suddenly a chair that brought rest, becomes a throne of pain. We are standing on the hill overlooking the promised land of our future. Each of us will walk into that land, but we will each have a different experience.

 Shortly after Moses spoke these words to Israel, he turned to his friend Joshua and said, “I am 120 years old today. I am no longer able to go out and come in… Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Moses then turned to all of Israel with Joshua at his side and said, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their fathers…It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

We are looking over the hilltop into the future. What will our future hold? Life or death, blessing or curse, thriving or withering. The choice is ours. While we were still enemies of God, Paul tell us, Christ died for us. While we were living under the dominion of deception, Christ, God incarnate, took on human flesh, lived a complete human life and took our penalty. He suffered injustice, ridicule and shame, for us and with us. And he did it so that we could walk into our future without fear. Because God so loved the world that he gave his only unique son so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. Eventually each of us will pass beyond the veil of life, and meet death, but that does not mean we cease. We can thrive even as we die. We can be an encouragement, even as we breathe our last breath.

As we leave this meeting for worship, as we move back out into our community and our homes, we are taking steps into that future we have just gazed upon in our mind’s eye. We go into that land with everything we need for the future we have chosen. That does not mean that we can conjure up the power to claim the riches of the world as a blessing for ourselves. No. that is not what Life with God is about. We have everything we need to live the life we choose. We can leave here today, as an instrument of God’s blessing to others, or we can exit these doors and embody the curse. Which will you choose. Will you love God, embrace the Holy Spirit, and live the love of Christ with others? Or will you walk into that future set before you with fear?

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Sold Out

By Jared Warner

Willow Creek Friends Church

July 11, 2021

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Click to read in Swahili

Bofya kusoma kwa Kiswahili

Mark 6:14–29 (ESV)

14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17 For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly. 21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his nobles and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison 28 and brought his head on a platter and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

This past week I have thought a great deal about life. I was back on the farm helping my dad. When making various trips and while in the field the farm life allows for a great deal of introspection. When you are traveling at a top speed of twenty miles per hour, you have time to think.

King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. This phrase had stuck out to me this week. Why would anyone even mention it? Of course, Jesus’ name was making its way across the land and into the local seats of power.

As I was making the various slow trips across the plains of Kansas, I began thinking about Herod. We know him as a king, and when we hear the word king our mind begins to come up with mental images that are filled with grand extravagance. But I want us to consider what Herod was the king of.

To call Herod a king is a bit of a stretch and I think the gospel writers used that term as much in jest as anything. This particular Herod is Antipas, the son of Herod the Great. Herod the Great was an actual king. When Herod the Great died his kingdom was divided among various heirs because Israel, while being semi-autonomous, were under Roman authority.

Herod Antipas wanted to be king. At one point in time, he was the sole heir of the entire kingdom of Herod the Great but his desire for power proved to be his undoing. Herod the Great, was by all secular accounts an effective ruler. He had the support of the people and when necessary, he would stamp out rebellion quickly and efficiently. The problem was that he had too much influence. Israel has never been large, yet when they have a ruler that is wise, they have had influence that far exceeds their size. Herod the Great had a great deal of influence. That amount of power in such a small area under Roman jurisdiction posed a threat to the influence of Rome, so when he died the only accepted transition of power was to divide the territory into smaller parts. Herod Antipas was given Galilee and Peraea.

This is interesting. If you were to look at a map Antipas was given a decent inheritance, but the areas he ruled were not continuous. The area known as the Decapolis was in between Galilee and Peraea. This division was purposeful, because the politicians in Rome knew Antipas could have been as effective as his father in ruling Israel.

But how did the Herodian dynasty get power in the first place? Herod the great was Idumean, or an Edomite, not Jewish. He became the governor of Galilee because he had great connections. He used his influence to spread the influence of Rome, as well as honoring the people. He would use brutal force to stamp out rebellion, but quickly after he would bring in wonderous building projects like expanding the Temple. He also used his influence and connections to gain greater influence in Israel, by marrying into the Hasmonean family. This family was recognized as the royal family of the Jews because their ancestors were able to Israel to gain their independence from the Greeks. The Herod family although foreigners, became converts to the Jewish faith to some degree. They were able to use religion, might, and political cunning to maintain relative peace.

Some in Israel accepted their rule, while others still saw them as foreigners, and this is why there is a group of religious leaders known as Herodians. They agreed with how Herod and his family used religion and government to accomplish what is necessary.

This method of rule had its problems. It is impossible to govern in both spheres completely. At some point you will offend religious leaders because you are too secular and you will offend those not of similar religious faith by giving in to the religious.

King Herod, the want to be King Herod heard of Jesus’ growing influence, and it caused him concern. It caused concern because of how Herod lived his life.

Antipas used whatever was necessary to ensure his influence. When he wanted to be seen as religious, he would act pious. He had scholars at hand to assist him in speaking to the religious, but he was not too concerned with living a pious life.

Today’s passage begins with Jesus’ name, but then it goes into something else. It begins to speak about Herod’s guilt. If we were to look at a historical timeline of ministry, Jesus and John the Baptist ministered at approximately the same time. John began and built his influence, and shortly after Jesus began his public ministry, John was arrested and executed. It would almost appear as if Jesus did not fully engage in ministry until after John was executed. I think this is important because it gives us a fuller understanding of scripture. We know John as the forerunner, as the witnesses, as a prophet like Elijah. All these things have messianic and apocalyptic meanings.

When Jesus’ name was becoming known and some began to say that John the Baptist had been raised from the dead, and that Jesus could also be Elijah, or a prophet. Antipas had his own understanding. He said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” We are then told the circumstances of that execution.

Herod Antipas, although accepted as a Jewish leader by many, was not the greatest example of piety. Antipas had a problem; he was married to his brother’s wife. The whole Herod family is a bit twisted. The wife in question was not only his brother’s former wife but was also his niece. Herodias was the last living member of the Hasmonean royal family, the daughter of Antipas’s half-brother. Since she was the last member of this family, who she was married to could claim to be the ruler of the Jewish people. We are not told exactly why the divorce happened, but we can infer that Herodias was a power seeker. Her first husband Herod the second was the one that was to inherit the kingdom, but when Herod the second got caught in a scandal he was removed from the will. Then suddenly Herodias divorces and marries the most likely son of Herod to unite the kingdom again.

It was not the fact that she was his niece that caused the problem, but that she was the wife of his brother. John the Baptist did not mince words in this. He referenced Levitical law to support his stance. This law states that a man should not marry his brother’s wife because it will reveal his brother’s nakedness. The wording of these laws confuses us because they use wording that we do not understand. Nakedness does not necessarily mean what we think, it can mean something like honor and dishonor, so to marry your brother’s wife dishonors your brother by publicly revealing his lack of honor. When John condemned the marriage, we could see it as being a condemnation based on honor and respect. Philip, or Herod the second, was removed from the will and by Antipas taking his wife adds more dishonor to him by dishonoring of his brother.

To dishonor his brother, is to dishonor God. Throughout scripture we are told that God places people in or allows for positions of power. When Herod the second lost his position, it was God’s will. Antipas by marrying Herodias while her husband, his brother, lived was not only dishonoring his brother but was joining his brother in God’s displeasure. It could be seen that God did not want the continuation of the Hasmonean linage of power, so when Antipas married Herodias, they were attempting to circumvent God’s will.

There are other interpretations to this Levitical law as well. Some scholars believe that Leviticus was not written as law for all people of Israel, but for the priests and kings. When a leader of God’s people participated in actions condemned by Levitical law, it was a sign that they did not have the integrity to be a leader of the people. Antipas married his brother’s wife; therefore, he was condemned from holding the position he desired. He could not be king.

The point I am getting at is that John struck a nerve in Herod’s life. Antipas wanted to be king, he wanted to be the king of the Jewish people. He married a woman whose linage would give him greater standing in that area, but issues remained. He wanted to be seen in one manner, while living another. He sought to silence the voice that was calling out his hypocrisy. Just when he thought he had silenced that voice, another name is heard. Another voice proclaiming that the Kingdom of God is at hand. When the name of Jesus comes to the courts of Antipas, he is struck by guilt.

We all have areas of hypocrisy. Our leaders have areas of hypocrisy. What do we do with this? Antipas sold out. His desire for power and influence trumped his faith. And ultimately his quest for power lead to his complete loss of power and exile, and he died with nothing. Another king in Israel’s history also used his power to gain things that were not his. A king by the name of David. David’s lawless actions were also called out by a prophet of God, but the story ended differently. We do not look at the name of David with the same disdain as we do Herod even though David was just as bad as Antipas.

David committed adultery, and as a result he committed an act of murder to cover up his indiscretions. The difference is Herod killed the voice and David repented. David was willing to accept any judgement God bestowed on him and Herod tried to outmaneuver God.  Even though Antipas respected John’s righteousness and believed that John was a holy man, he was willing to kill to silence that voice. And when Herod began to hear the name of Jesus, Herod Antipas was plagued by guilt and fear because he realized that the voice of God was still speaking out against his actions.

What do we do when we are faced with our own sin? What do we do when it is revealed to us that our actions and our words do not reflect the life we claim to live? How do we respond to those among us who are living hypocrisy in their own lives? Are we willing to sell out our faith for power or are we willing to lay down our power for the sake of our faith?

We all sell out. Antipas sold his life and reputation for power and influence, and he lost both. And he died with nothing. David sold his power and influence to gain a restoration of his life and reputation. We all sell out. We are all willing to give our lives for something. What are we giving up and what do we gain? John cried out to those in the wilderness to repent. Jesus also encourages us to repent, to turn around and walk on a different path. Jesus shows us what that path is.

He made it his custom to worship God, in the community. He withdrew often to pray in isolated places. And he ministered to the needs of those around him. He called and commissioned his disciples to Love God in worship, to embrace the Spirit in prayer, and to live the love he showed with other. Jesus is calling us to walk a different path. But he does not call us to do it on our own. Antipas sought to gain everything on his own and in the end he lost. We will lose too without Christ. Jesus came to show us what life with God is like, and he also shows us what life without God is like. Antipas wanted to silence Jesus as well, He participated in the execution of Jesus on the cross. The wages of sin is death. Each of us will eventually have to pay those wages. But death could not hold Jesus, he takes on our death and restores life to those who entrust their lives to him. Antipas sold out. He sold his life for fame and fortune. Jesus calls us to sell out too, but he is calling us to something greater. Life with Jesus does not end with death but we will live with him, for he is the resurrection and the life. How will we respond?

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