Paul had not been with the Believers of the Church in Corinth for about three years. But he had gotten wind of the abuses that were happening concerning the Lord’s Supper…or if you will, Holy Communion or the Eucharist. Here he was instructing them to stop and soberly scrutinize and determine whether they were worthy of taking Communion…before they partook. When something becomes so ritualistic and automatic, we tend to perform it without thinking…going through the motions without allowing it to impact us. We are to examine ourselves first, before we participate…for who better to ascertain our own spiritual condition than us? And don’t worry, what you choose to ignore…the Holy Spirit will be faithful to point it out!
This story about the boy and the evil spirit was important enough to be in three of the four New Testament accounts by the disciples. Matthew, Mark and Luke all give slightly different takes on this event, but the main thought rang true throughout all three…the disciples couldn’t heal the boy on their own. But instead of admitting defeat, giving up, or walking away, they came to Jesus searching for answers. In Matthew 21:21 Jesus replied to their inquiry by telling them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt…” Doubt is being double-minded or having a divided mind. So when we doubt, we sway back and forth between faith and fear…never achieving full confidence and trust in what God can do. But just like the disciples, if we will go to Jesus admitting our shortcomings, He will speak truth in order to dispel our doubt. And if, like the boy’s father we ask Jesus to, ” Help me overcome my unbelief!” He will show us the way.
I was blessed enough in my early Christian walk to have a lovely older lady come into my life. Joyce came up along side, took my arm, and together we navigated what being a Christian meant. Was she perfect with a perfect family? No, in fact, they had experienced many upheavals in their marriage. But what I saw in her was a God-centered life, marriage, and family, and that gave me hope that God could work in me. Through her example, Joyce guided, coached, and shepherded me on this brand new journey called Christianity. She was my mentor…and I will always admire her firm conviction, her consistent faith, and her unchanging trust in God.
When Jesus shouted into that grave, He was taking divine authority over death. And this wasn’t the only time He did this. In Luke 7:14 He raised back to life the only son of a widow when He touched the coffin and said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” And when He ordered the dead daughter of Jairus to, “Get up!”… she did. (Luke 8:54) But His disciples were also witnesses to these miracles…and their faith grew with each one. For we find in Acts 9:40, Peter was called to pray for a lovely old woman by the name of Dorcas, a devote Follower, who had died. Under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit within, Peter repeated the same words of Jesus, “Get up!”…and Dorcas came back to life.
Jesus was spending time here teaching His disciples about priorities. He started out, by encouraging them not to be worried because they didn’t possess the “things” that the world viewed as valuable. Jesus instead told them to, “Seek first the kingdom of God.” In other words, when our priorities are in the right place…God first, Family next, the World last… God will bless and take care of us.
Earlier in Genesis, God had promised Abraham and Sarah a child. ” I will make you into a great nation.” (Genesis 12:2) But like most of us…they allowed fear and doubt to overshadow their hope and expectations. For in this verse, God led Abraham out into the cloudless night sky to observe the stars, (they estimate there are 1 Billion Trillion stars in our universe), and then reassured him that his offspring would be as numerous. God does this for us also. He can cause a Bible verse to suddenly become alive and take on new meaning…banishing doubt and bolstering our faith in Him. He can strip away fear and strengthen our trust by bringing into remembrance all the things He’s done for us in the past. And just like Abraham, we too can look up into that starry sky and see God’s wonder, power, and majesty…and be assured of His love and faithfulness for us.
The Greek word here for “hate” doesn’t mean we must despise our family in order to follow Jesus. What it just means is that we love them less than we love God. It’s called being set apart. So to this, we are to separate ourselves “morally” from the world view and others that don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus. In Isaiah 52:11, God tells us to, “Come out from them (the world) and be separate.” To be set apart for Christ means that we have our priorities correct…God is first, our family is second, the world is third. For when you make God the most significant person in you life, you are less likely to allow compromise to creep in. And when God is your everything, you are much better equipped to love those around you more effectively.