Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Sound Teaching Vs. Sound Living

There are two portions of Scripture (courtesy of Steve Keels Nov 3-4 message this last weekend) that really are speaking to things that have been heavy on my heart that I would like to share, partly inspired by Marks Sound Teaching & Sound Living.

As followers of Christ we are clearly called to a higher standard of living. This is made clear repeatedly throughout Scripture.

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:31-32)

And continuing on, Scripture models the correct lifestyle that should replace this.

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 5:1-2)

That all sounds fine and dandy in theory, but for some reason (at least for me) laying a principle out with basic concepts does not provide the depth in understanding, and the "sting", to really encourage change in my life (head knowledge alone does not make for a changed heart, that's for sure). That's the beauty of parables.

I'm sure you all are familiar with The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18:21-35). But here's a quick recap. Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive someone. Jesus responds with this story directly linking God's standard in human terms, "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants" (23). So there's a servant who owes a lot of money to the king (impossibly in debt, in today's terms, hundreds of millions). The servant falls on his face asking for mercy to which the master takes pity and cancels the entire debt. The servant turns around finds a fellow servant who owes him a fairly small amount and demands he repays him. Despite a plea for mercy, he has him thrown in prison.

Now for the kings response (and remember, this is God's response to us as well), "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant', he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed." (32-34) And Jesus made absolutely no room for doubt about who he is talking to here... "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart". (35)

"you wicked servant"...that's a far cry from the "well done my good and faithful servant" we all look forward to come judgment day.

Now, lets glance back to Ephesians once again...

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."

Sound teaching apart from sound living falls flat.

I want no part of a religion that offers sound teaching if it is does not in turn create a transformed life of sound living. What good is a mouth that talks of truth when the heart is removed and distant? True sound living can only come from the heart, which is why a relationship with Christ is key. It is from our relationship with Christ that we seek the truth as we continue to live it out in our walk with Him.

1 comment:

MaryandLindy said...

Amen! You really can't underestimate the importance of thic concept. It seems so basic and yet so many people miss it.