The first time I ever heard the title professor emeritus I was quite impressed. It was at a graduation service and I thought it meant the prof was super good. Little did I know it had more to do with being OLD than with the quality of past lectures. When I opened my mail today a card fell out of an envelope containing, you guessed it, an “Emeritus Commissioned Ministry of Teaching Credential.” To reinforce the situation, in order to read the card I had to get out a magnifying glass.
Since it did not reflect the quality of decades of classroom performance I spent the afternoon wondering about what I do do that is good. I have come to the conclusion I am a very good sinner. I realize that is an oxymoron but I am very good at sinning and then skilled at trying to cover it up. I should receive a credential recognizing that skill.
Paul must have felt that way when he wrote, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.” I Timothy 1:15. He also wrote the following about himself. “Though I am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Ephesians 3:8. He said he was less than the least. With Paul it wasn’t about Paul. It was all about Jesus. In Mark 2:17 we read this wonderful verse, “On hearing this, Jesus told them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’”
Therefore if you also belong to the “good sinners club” rejoice and be exceedingly happy because Jesus loves you very much.
When I was very small my parents gave me thirty-five cents a week. Twenty-five cents was for the mission offering at church and ten cents was for me. We had a treasure land for a neighborhood store run by a man with no legs. He slid around the well worn wooden floor on a large piece of leather that was somehow strapped to his waist. When you walked in immediately to the right was a glass case filled with penny candy. There were Mary Janes, gummy bears, marshmallow peanuts, wax lips and other wonders. Best of all there was a comic book rack and they were only ten cents each. If I wanted a comic book I had to forgo the candy. It was my choice. Most of the time I opted for a Donald Duck comic, but sometimes I got a Superman.
I remember one week in church they showed us a picture of a small child in Africa that needed food. That week I did not get a comic book or candy. It was not a difficult decision. Often for supper we had dark cornpone and milk. I thought we were rich. And we were when compared to the child in Africa. So much of life is relative. Little could I have imagined that decades later I would spend six years in Africa and would have many occasions to be reminded of that little boy in the picture.
Life is the sum of our choices; here and forever. The most important of all is our commitment to Jesus and the acceptance of His gift and grace. Then comes eternal life with an infinite amount of choices. What we become, where we will go, what we will learn will be our choice.
I am sitting here staring at my keyboard. (Not music – I don’t know what to do with one of those. This one has letters not black and white keys.) It is a marvelous thing. It talks. It says anything I want it to say. With it I can spread hope or despair. With it I can build good or with it I can destroy. It is an outlet for my mind. It is amazing. When we think about it we can transfer thoughts from one mind to another and if we print what we key in, those thoughts can be transferred to other minds years and decades after our minds are thoughtlessly dead.
Thousands of years before my keyboard was the Psalmist wrote, “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14. How did he write that? Did he have a stenographer?
The 21st century equivalent of that verse would be, “Let the words of my keyboard and these thoughts of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, and may they spread the good news of Jesus love to all the world via the wonder of the Internet.”
I realize that rendition isn’t nearly as poetic and beautiful but it certainly is my prayer as I assure you that Jesus loves you, forgives you from ALL your transgressions and has reserved a place just for you. Your name is already engraved on the door of your heavenly home. I also pray that the words of your keyboard posted on Facebook or wherever will always be positive and filled with the joy of salvation.
There are some things so very important and so weighty they should not be witnessed by others. Matthew 27:45 records such a moment in time. “From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land.” Jesus has been on the cross for three hours and with the end coming, the agony of separation from His Father, the mental anguish had superseded the horror of the unthinkable physical abuse. It was time for Jesus to pay the price for our sins. He who knew no sin had vicariously assumed our guilt. It was time for Him to die our deserved death that we can live His deserved life.
The ignorant evil crowd being unprepared for total darkness at noon stumbled about in an effort to retreat from site of their evil deed. They did not deserve to see the cross and the naked broken body of the creator of the universe. Angels sobbed in shock. While they knew what was coming the reality was so much worse than their anticipation of the moment. No one was to watch. Alone He suffered. Alone He fended off the taunts of Lucifer, His old friend. Lucifer was so sure he could make this moment so bad Jesus would give up. But Jesus would pay the price at any cost for you and me.
I had a friend once tell me when in heaven he wants to watch the video. I have sincere doubts that once he catches a glimpse of the torn flesh and gaping wounds from the nails he will bury his head in his hands. No one can or should ever watch. A thousand years from now our love for Him will have so grown, more than ever we will not be able to watch.
English is not a proud language. It has no shame in adding new words to its ever growing inventory of available units of communication. Each year the publishers of dictionaries include new words taken from current usage. One of this year’s additions is sheeple, a portmanteau of sheep and people. Once we say it, the meaning speaks for itself. We sheepishly follow the crowd. What’s trending on Facebook is an example of something catching the fancy of a few and then having millions follow. Fashions regularly produce the “emperor’s clothes” because thought leaders start something and the rest of us fear to be different.
1000 years before Jesus came to us David wrote Psalm 23. 800 years before Jesus, Isaiah noted in chapter 53, “All we like sheep have gone astray.” Handel even included it in his famous oratorio The Messiah. In Matthew 9 we read, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Our sheepish behavior is nothing new. But how wonderful it is that Jesus not only understands, He has compassion on sheeple. One of His most familiar parables is about the one lost sheep and the shepherd going out to search for it.
Just as long as Jesus keeps loving sheeple I don’t mind being one. I could think of many worse things to be. Jesus said, “Follow me.” My response is gladly, because we know where He leads. Heaven will be full of sheeple. The challenge is to know who to follow. That is the main task of the Holy Spirit. He woos us, nudges us and sometimes shoves us in the right direction. Jesus said, “I am the way.” So come and join me. I’m a sheeple and you’re a sheeple and together we will be led home.