Weighed in the Balance and Found Wandering

Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God concerning them is for their salvation.  I can testify about them that they have zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. Since they are ignorant of the righteousness of God and attempted to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness. —Romans 10:1-3

A friend of mine has been struggling for quite some time with a religious rift within his home. While he is a diligent, Bible-believing Christian, his wife is . . . how should I say it? She’s out in left field. More specifically, she’s managed to get herself connected with a sect that “majors on the minors.” These people think it is super important that REAL Christians worship on Saturday rather than Sunday. They insist on calling Jesus Yeshua and keeping some of the Jewish holidays.

I realize that someone could make a case for Saturday worship, and I know people who pray in the name of Yeshua and observe Passover. To my mind there’s nothing at all wrong with those things, but when we make one or more of those things the litmus test for True Believerhood, then I think we’re doing the exact sort of thing that Paul lamented the Jews of his day doing.

You don’t have to look around the Christian world very far to find examples of this sort of thing. My Church of Christ friends decline to have instrumental music in their churches (which is certainly their right), but they tend to make that practice a dividing line. Some Pentecostal friends insist that one absolutely must be baptized in the name of Jesus–and only in the name of Jesus–for a baptism to count. Do they honestly believe that Jesus suffered and died on the cross for me and then will leave me high and dry because Pastor C. baptized me with the wrong words way back when?

But lest I get too full of myself, too sure of my own rightness, I have to confess that I take a dim view of churches that baptize infants. I’m pretty confident that infant baptism is not scriptural, but is God going to reject a Jesus-believing Episcopal? And along the same lines, what of baptism by immersion? That’s the scriptural pattern, but if you believe in your heart and confess with your tongue, is God going to throw you into Purgatory because you were sprinkled?

I’m pretty sure that my friend’s wife is walking down the wrong road, but I’m also sure that the God of Creation will indulge some error on the part of those who believe. My prayer is that this woman, and those with whom she worships, will actually make that connection.

The Dwindling Woodpile (Hebrews 4:9-10)

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:9-10)

This morning, I journeyed with my son to my brother’s house. Wayne had dropped a couple of large trees that posed a threat to his house. His loss of foliage was my gain of firewood. Tom and I spend about four hours cutting, loading, driving, and unloading the wood–three loads of wood.

I’m thrilled to see a large pile of soon-to-be split-and-stacked wood appear outside my woodshed. Each winter begins with a sprawling pile of firewood, a supply sure to last throughout the cold months.  That pile dwindles far more quickly than I would wish to see. As the available splits disappear into ash and smoke, my chainsaw springs into action. I fight a rear-guard action, hoping that the wood will last until spring.

I’m typically a calm person, but I have to admit that I experience some stress as the woodpile disappears. Will the fire give out before winter does? Will I need to call the propane company, surrendering lots of money and my sense of self-sufficiency? Will I have to wade through knee-deep drifts of snow to bring new fuel to the house? Only when late March rolls around am I able to draw a deep breath and relax. Of course the stress kicks in again shortly thereafter as the days roll past toward the next winter. It never ends.

I suppose that’s why I can rejoice at the promise of God’s rest. Just as surely as I labor endlessly to keep my house heated, I could labor endlessly to keep my slate of good-versus-bad in the positive column, blotting out every sin with a counterweighing good deed. I could try that and fail. The work would never end. I’d watch whatever store of positive fuel I had accumulated slowly diminished. But I don’t have to do that. Thank you, Lord.