Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: CLEAR AS MUD (07/18/19)
TITLE: Why all this Competition?
By Noel Mitaxa
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But as you feel the lamp in your shoulder bag, you know you won’t be blundering in the dark. But despite the joy of being with Jesus, and tapping into the magnetism of his authority – even over death itself – you sense uncertainty stirring within the group. For he is about to leave.
“Go into all the world and make disciples, teaching them to observe all my commands,” his voice rings out, “and I will remain with you until the end of the age!”
Then, somehow, he ascends into a cloud and you see him no more.
Wait, you think, wasn’t it a cloud that led Israel through the wilderness? But there’s no Moses here, or any reassurance of being led that way now.
Let’s fast forward two millennia...
Jesus’ Great Commission of Matthew 28: 19-20 is unchanged, and after all this time, you’d expect us to have worked out the best way to make disciples – and stuck to that way.
Yet history shows so much variation in our message and our methodology, as we have sought to win our world for Jesus – not just to spare people the eternal torment of hell, but to help them discover the fulfilment of knowing him personally here and now.
Those with no faith may well be totally confused with this variety, especially when Christians fight over our views – tragically at times backed by brutal methods of “persuasion,” such as a torture chamber I recently saw beneath an ancient church while visiting Prague. For as British politician Michael Foote once sadly observed, “We will die for our faith, but we will kill for our interpretations.”
However, Jesus’ ministry was filled with variety - in how he approached people or let them approach him. In John chapter 15, he describes the church with us branching out from him as the vine, to bear the fruit of his character and to attract and nourish new believers who in turn would also become branches. And while all vines have branches and bear fruit, no two vines are identical; so, let’s respect the variety of emphases or methods – for God is blessing churches within every flavour or style of all denominations as they focus on Jesus’ Lordship.
Why does how we worship become sometimes more important than who we worship?
Maybe an unlikely – and, dear reader, a totally contrived – way to clear the confusion comes from rewinding two millennia….
In the crowded Roman Colosseum, as gladiators were slaughtering Christians, one spectator turned to the man beside him. “I feel ashamed to be watching this,” he said, “because I’m also a Christian. In fact, Jesus healed me of blindness!”
“Oh no,” said the other man, “I’m a Christian, and Jesus healed my blindness too.”
“How come?” asked the first.
“He spat on the ground and made some mud that he put on my eyes and told me to go and wash it off! How did he heal you?”
“He just touched my eyes and they just opened up - he didn’t use any mud. Are you sure you were healed by Jesus?”
And that, dear reader, marked the beginning of two sects: the Muddites, and the Anti-Muddites!!!
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