God said, “Be holy as I am holy” not to make us religious robots, but to free us for authentic worship, calling on us to say “Yes, dear” to the things of God and “No, dear” to the things that pull us from God (check out the earlier posts), but Jesus offers another path.
(Just like FDR had the New Deal—promises and program)
New Deal (2:17) 17 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.
Jesus starts painting a picture of a new Exodus. That while the Israelites were in the desert, death seemed always at their doorstep, compromise always on the horizon, and yet God provided for them when it seemed impossible. God lead them when they were lost, healed them when they were hurting. When Israel was faithful, nothing could defeat them, the sun would stand still, largest armies would crumble, but when they gave into compromise to excess, instead of clinging to the essential their world started to fall apart. But for the victorious—the white stone would be used, an illusion to the justice system of that day—where the jurors would use a white stone for an acquittal, and a black stone for a guilty sentence. Jesus promises vindication.
Saying yes to Christ and no to compromise can leave us feeling like we are about to be crushed like a bug. Many people find bugs somewhat creepy, but if there’s one beetle in the world that could turn you into a fan – the jewel scarab. Jewel scarab’s live in the jungles of Honduras. Their colors are so dazzling and beautiful that they can sell for up to $500 a beetle. Beautiful flaming reds, bright golds, silvers that resemble bright, shiny chrome. Even the beetle hater finds jewel scarabs dazzling and beautiful!
But the jewel scarab’s beauty doesn’t come automatically. Every scarab has modest, even ugly beginnings. The scarab starts life as a soft, mushy, grey-white grub growing inside a rotting tree stump. They spend their life like this for around a year, until finally, when the rainy season arrives, the adult scarabs emerge soft bodied and pale. The within hours, their bodies harden and their splendid colors show. They only live for another three months, but what a glorious existence it is.
People are just like scarabs. We may not feel terribly beautiful and attractive. In fact there may be parts of you that feel distinctly ugly – and I’m not talking just about your body, but about your spirit, your mind, your thought life, your character. But it’s the work of the Spirit of God to make us beautiful. It may seem to take a lifetime, but as the Spirit works on us, we will emerge as beautiful, dazzling, shining creatures gloriously bearing the image of our Creator. (Source: Scientific information from National Geographic, Feb 2001.) Paul articulated this in Ephesians 1:17-18 his prayer for us as Christ’s people- the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
Vindication comes at a price. God wouldn’t compromise our future even when it cost his Son his present security. Jesus shows his faithfulness by bringing healing through his hurting, by bringing victory from the ashes of defeat. Unlike the Pergamum people laying in the healing temple, snakes crawling all over them, God gave the Israelite people a picture of what was to come when snakes were biting them in the desert and people were dying, he called on them to make a snake and lift it up on a pole, and when they looked to it, they would be saved. A forerunner, to Christ, who took our sins upon himself, bore them, and then was lifted up on the cross. It is by looking them him, being branded by him, faithful to him, that we find our true identity. Where the fruit of the spirit begin to brand us—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Sometimes compromise is essential; a key to a happy marriage or working with other people, but sometimes it is excessive, until we are so branded that we can barely live at all. Until we are trying so hard to move forward that we forget where we are going all together. As you go forward this week, making a host of decisions who help shape who you are becoming—seek to allow God’s word—sharper than a double edge sword to cut you open and see your heart—where have you been rightly saying Yes to God, but also where have you been resistant to his calling—dug in saying yes to the world and no to him? Faithful or flirting—Is it time for you to be married to Christ?