Wednesday, April 27, 2011

John 16: killing people as a service to God

Jesus warns his disciples that "a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me."

But not because they don't know the scriptures. Moses tells Israel in Deuteronomy 13: if your brother, child, love of your life, or best friend suggests the worship of false gods, "Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people. Stone him to death."

Like Sharia law today, Mosaic law punished lawbreaking in a theocracy. The worship of false gods was rebellious treason against the King of Glory. Even today in the U.S., treason is a capital crime. In first century Israel, worship of false gods is responsible for Israel's demise and the synagogue leaders are determined to set matters right.

Just one problem - Jesus IS God. His followers are obeying the One True God. The synagogue leaders are spiritually blind. It is possible to know and obey the scriptures in part but still be horribly wrong. That's why I love reading the gospels. If you bathe in the spirit, teachings and examples of Jesus, it is hard to go far wrong.

The law compelled obedience - or tried to, anyway. Grace compells no-one against their will but works and wills according to His good pleasure - the willing obedience of the saints. "The love of Christ compells us," Paul wrote. Where is stoning? It is excluded. And the persecuted saint must regard threats of same with the closing words of Chapter 16: "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world." Through Him I can live in peace, insofar as it is possible, and walk in truth.

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