Looking Forward From the Plow

photo  ©2010  Klearchos Kapoutsis, FlickrDeath, the primary inescapable statistic that effects all humans. We all shall come face to face with its reality. When we view our lives in the light of death’s foreboding guarantee our perspective of the future should be impacted. The lives we live, words we say, and things we do all effect us significantly. Conversely, those things also effect the lives of others.

Personally, I have the predisposition of always focusing on that which I have lost. Generally speaking, there is a loss of pride and esteem when I think of the negative impact my former life has had on the lives of others. Personal responsibility is difficult to accept when the actions you have committed directly (or indirectly) resulted in someone else’s death or suffering.

Although everyone is accountable for their own decisions the inquisition of my own heart begs the question: Am I responsible for how they wound up? As one who is redeemed and considered forgiven of past sins I become the epitome of the skeptics argument. That is to say, I have been forgiven, but how do I make amends to the dead?

Salvation has not eliminated my remorse for the sins against my neighbors. It is tough to work out the discrepancy between the Christian message of forgiveness and the promise of our ability to walk as though we are free with no parole when there are still many who have been hurt and remain in the closets of our personal pasts. In reality, the question of the disbeliever is valid – is it right that bad people can be found good in the eyes of God?

If this is not relative to your personal experience, do not dismiss this post lightly. The mere existence of a need for forgiveness from Christ leaves all guilty of the same crimes I would adjudicate myself for.

Good or bad, we should consider our present standing in Christ, our citizenship in the Kingdom of God, and whether or not we are redeeming the time.

Consider Paul, an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. As Saul, the Pharisee of Pharisees, he enjoyed the unfettered authority to arrest, cajole, persecute, and command the murder of early followers of The Way (Acts 19:9, 19:23). Carrying the responsibility for the tumult brought upon early believers would also bear a considerable reputation. If you were a disciple of Jesus Christ in the early days of Christianity, the site of Saul of Tarsus headed your way was a sure sign of trouble. Now imagine that same man at your doorstep, under the name of Paul, and the words, “Hello Brother” leaving his lips? Feeling skeptical of his intent would be an understatement.

Although his reception among the early disciples of Jesus was slow going, Saul, now called Paul eventually became one of their most beloved brethren. Even at the command of the Lord, Ananias, a disciple of the Lord Jesus was reluctant to attend to the conversion of Paul (Acts 26:13), but even a murderer can be redeemed and used for the Kingdom of God (Acts 26:15-16). Knowing the propensity of the Pharisee Paul to bind believers and have them tried, a command from the Lord necessitates forgiveness.

His purposes are to become our priorities.

Jesus gives his disciples detailed instructions that outline how we are to conduct ourselves in our relationships with others.

  1. We are to be peacemakers (Matt 5:9). The good news of Christ and the coming of his Kingdom is the primary motivator of peace. True peace is only born through knowing Christ. Once we are reconciled to YWH we will be reconciled to others. If peace is not amicable, peace is still your priority. Paul, our example emphasizes this same principle, in light of persecution to Roman believers later in his service (Rom 12:18).
  2. We are to make amends (Matt 5:23-24). Piety in the eyes of the Lord is not by what you are bringing him in sacrifice. Although you have received a “pardon” in the eyes of the Father, your status requires absolution with your enemies. If we profess Christ, the Prince of Peace, as our Lord, how much more are we obligated to be an enemy of no man?
  3. We are to rectify all legal obligations (Matt 5:25-26). The Lord does not permit us to leave things hanging in the balance. He not only makes a statement that implicates a clearing of the past, but instructions for handling affairs in the future. So too Paul presents his example in accordance with the teaching of Jesus. We must walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time (Col 4:5).

Knowing intimately our old self and being continuously acquainted with the new self in Christ we are to consider the life of Paul and the result of his redemption in Christ. It is a safe conclusion to state that Paul considered the Kingdom and redeemed the time. Eventually, his appeal to Caesar resulted in his death. At this point, there was no settling on the road before facing the judge. But ultimately, he won the most royal and captive audience of his entire ministry.

Are you redeeming your time as a disciple of Christ? Do you feel that dealing with your past is equivalent to looking back from the plow? How do you deal with your past knowing you have a future as a Christian in the Kingdom of God?

In the end, Paul went down preaching. Amen!

If we have been forgiven much, we are to love much (Luke 7:36-50). This manifests itself in obedience to the commands of Christ. We must remember that following the commands of Christ require rectification to others as well as himself. If we make right the wrongs of our past we are not looking back from the plow (Luke 9:62), we are powering it with a gospel centered life. True strength comes in confidence that Christ has healed us as much as knowing that he has taught us the way.

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James

I love writing about books, theology, and the Kingdom of God. I also enjoy viewing my vocation through a biblical lens. It is here at Seeking A Kingdom that I aim to hash out my thoughts on all these things.

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