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Topic: Power (05/10/04)
TITLE: Gnat Hunt: Matthew 23:24
By michael e. evans
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Answer: “Camel sandwiches of course.”
Dilemma: The real problem is, what to shoot ‘em with. ‘Cause when you find one; anything you use is overkill.
A gnat is an annoying insect. Small to the point of almost invisible insignificance. You have to strain to see them. They’re harmless really. Except in their ability to distract and consequently redirect force. While causing us to slap at them, we ignore what’s important and harm ourselves and others using our own power.
Aeschylus, the Greek tragic dramatist said; “The man whose authority is recent is always stern.” The disciples proved him true almost five hundred years later. “Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?” All because some people wouldn’t receive the Lord. It seems the tradition continues as many who have discovered that, through Jesus, they now possess the power of God, seek to destroy that which Jesus came to save. But Jesus, the same yesterday, today, and forever, says the same thing to us he said to them. “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. (Luke 9:51-56)
Once again, it seems, the body of Christ is on a gnat hunt — hell bent on legislating righteousness. Like the Pharisees of old, we keep trying to clean men up from the outside rather than the inside. It seems we will do anything to avoid witnessing. Antiabortion marches. Pro-life crusades. Picket the clinics. Inundate the politicians with letters of outrage. Boycott the TV and Radio stations. And now we are seeker sensitive. Are we ashamed of the gospel? It is the power of God unto salvation you know. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the JW’s and the Mormons are knocking on every door — sensitively seeking the seekers. The most recent object of our outrage: gays and the sanctity of marriage.
I was watching Oprah interview John Stewart of The Daily Show recently and she asked him what he thought about gay marriages. “I was outraged,” he replied, “until I found out it wasn’t mandatory.” The comedians always get it. This is a gnat. Insignificant and harmless until we get distracted by it and aim our big guns at the wrong thing. We seem to believe hell will be compartmentalized like our churches. Smokers & Drunks. Adulterers & Fornicators. Homos & Lesbos. OJ & Hitler. And a double dip for Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and the priests in the pretty pink tutus.
I think it was Tony Campalo who talked about addressing christian groups with the alarming statement: “Today ten thousand children will die of hunger and most of you don’t give a damn. And what’s worse is that, right now, you are more concerned about the fact that I just cursed in church than you are about those dying children.” But let’s not lose our focus. Those Sodomites must be stopped.
If you listen to the hype without reading the bible, you might think that God destroyed Sodom for it’s sexual perversion. But as wicked as sexual perversion is, that wasn’t the evil that brought down God’s wrath. Read it for yourself: “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:48-54) High minded, fat, too much nothing to do and mad at folks in need. Sounds more like preachers than perverts.
Here’s the kicker though. Abraham bartered with God because Lot was in the city. “Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?” He just knew that Lot was walking upright and telling others of his God. Fifty. Forty-Five. Forty. Abraham kept lowering the number. Perhaps he remembered that it was the lights of Sodom that attracted Lot in the first place. Maybe he had flashbacks of the greed and carnality that separated him from his nephew. Thirty. Twenty. Ten. Lot. His wife. His daughters. Their husbands. Surely there are ten? But you know the end of the story. Much like Jonah and Nineveh, God seemed to be having trouble finding people to preach to the lost. His troubles continue today. Truly the harvest is plenteous but the laborers are -- on the picket line?
Even the disciples were looking to flex their new found muscles when Jesus was leaving. “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” After spending three years in ministry with the Lord himself, they still didn’t get it. But Jesus did. “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in his own power.” In other words, ‘That’s none of your business! Vengeance is mine.’ Then he pointed them to the real source of and reason for their power. “But you shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me....” Power to witness. Yes. Power to witness.
He that winneth souls is wise. (Proverbs 11:30) A true witness delivers souls. (Proverbs 14:25) (Ephesians 5:14-17) (2 Peter 3:9) I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; ...that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life...this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4) Power to witness. Yes. Power to witness.
Question: If America were the target of God’s wrath and our deliverance were tied to your soul winning efforts this year — what would be our fate? And by the way: What would you like on that camel sandwich?