Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Concordance as a Devotional

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” right? We teach it, we quote it, some have even memorized it.

But we don’t really believe it.

That’s because it doesn’t take very long for us to come to a long stretch of “begats” or something equally monotonous.

But there really is meaty goodness even in those passages if you look for it. It just takes a little work.

Read Matthew 1:1-17. Yes, really.

Now, using a concordance or electronic search, start looking up names. In this passage, there are some names that kind of break the flow – where the women are named. Anything that sticks out like that should be of special interest to us.

This list contains some colorful characters to say the least.

We have Judah who slept with a prostitute that turned out to be his daughter-in-law Tamar (Gen 38).

We have Rahab, the Canaanite harlot who helped the spies sent by Joshua (Josh 2).

We see Ruth, a Moabite (Ruth 1) – a pagan descendent of Lot’s incestuous daughter (Gen 19), whose line had been excluded from the covenant people (Deut 23:3-6).

We see David and Bathsheeba – murderer, adulterers – and their idolatrous son Solomon. In fact, though a few good kings appear in the list (Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah), most were idolaters and some murderers.

There were quite a few ungodly people in Jesus’ bloodline. In fact, most of them. Shouldn’t Christ have come from more righteous people?

Well, there aren’t any “righteous” people. God uses what He has to work with – us.

I saw an illustration that makes this clearer. On a spectrum of righteousness, we can put Christ on one end and Hitler on the other:

X…………………………………………………………………………H

Where should we put Mother Teresa on this spectrum? In the middle? A bit more to the left? Here’s biblical picture:

X…………………………………………………………………………T

When judged by God’s standard, apart from Christ we are all down on the far end hugging Hitler.

In God’s grace, he uses ungodly people – even in the human lineage of Christ. He also shows that gentiles will not be excluded from the promise; this is a precursor to the truth that every tribe, tongue, and nation will be part of Christ’s kingdom.

The good news is that God uses ungodly people.

The better news is that Jesus came for ungodly people.

5 comments:

Nancy said...

This may just be your best post EVER!...*: )

ChrisB said...

Thanks, Nancy. I hope people find it useful.

nancy (aka money coach) said...

Theologically, according to St. Paul, I actually think Mother Theresa and Christ would be in the exact same spot. Just sayin'

ChrisB said...

Nancy-the-money-coach, I understand what you're saying. I tried to make it clear what I was doing, but apparently I didn't. Sorry.

The key phrase is "apart from Christ" meaning, without Christ's imputed righteousness, even someone who's given her life for others the way Teresa did is not good enough.

Thanks for commenting.

Anonymous said...

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