“After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Have you ever read something in one place, read something else in another place from a purportedly friendly source, and something about the two accounts didn’t quite sit right? We often see this today in modern politics. One person says one thing and another says something slightly different; different enough that the contradiction is glaring. Generally speaking, people don’t tolerate contradictions very well. Contradictions reveal either duplicity or hypocrisy, or both. This is bad enough when it comes to life in general. It’s even harder when we seem to find them in the Scriptures.
“John came baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. John wore a camel-hair garment with a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Several years ago I had the chance to participate in a weekend seminar with Pastor Mike Bonem. He is the author of the book, Leading from the Second Chair. Mike was then the executive pastor at Second Baptist Church in Houston, TX, one of the largest churches in the country. As the title of the book suggests, Mike’s message that weekend was about how to still be a leader when you aren’t the head honcho. Considering the state of our culture then and now, I struggle to imagine a more countercultural message than the one he was preaching. Nobody aspires to be the runner up. Nobody plans on making it almost to the top, but stopping just short of that. And yet, the very first person we are introduced to in the Gospel of Mark did exactly that, and Jesus called him the greatest man alive. Let’s talk about John the Baptist this morning.
“Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death–even to death on a cross.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Yesterday, we talked about something that could completely changed the world if we put it into practice: Putting others first and ourselves second. If we just took that one idea and ignored the rest of the Scriptures, our world would never be the same and infinitely better than it is now. But doing that kind of thing seems extreme beyond the pale. I mean, who really has done that kind of thing in a way that mattered? And besides, as we finished up asking, what if the interests of the people around us are contrary to our own? Paul realizes these instructions were pretty big to try and follow and so he goes on to offer an example. It’s a pretty good example. Let’s look at it.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
When was the last time you came across someone who was truly humble? That’s not a virtue we see very often nowadays, especially from people who spend their lives in the spotlight. More than that, it’s not a virtue that’s taught as something worth striving for in the first place. Instead, the message we have preached at us from every direction is that we need to look out for ourselves. We need to work to advance our own interests. We need to toot our own horn because if we don’t, no one else is going to do it for us. We are told that we are the most important person in the world and should behave accordingly. This trend was all sold to us as something positive. So…what have the results been?
In this third part of our series, I Do, we finally start getting practical. In the first part we defined marriage, and last week we talked about its purpose. That’s all good and important to know, but how do we actually get it right? Let’s talk about it starting with a special focus on what husbands need to do if our marriages are going to be what they can be.
Getting Things Right
We’ve talked about this a few times before and will talk about it again in the future, but one of the challenges of being a follower of Jesus committed to the idea that the Scriptures are right and true in everything they affirm is that there are some places that are downright hard to handle. The reasons for the difficulty are sometimes theological, but they are also scientific and cultural and social and relational and even just applicational. For example, the Law of Moses calls for the stoning of incorrigibly rebellious children and at the same time Jesus said that He came not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. Unless we can successfully understand Jesus’ fulfillment of the Law to mean that we can disregard commands such as that one, other than a strong temptation on rough days—like, say, day four or five of being stranded inside with three increasingly wild boys…not that Lisa and I know anything about that—we need to get used to the idea of living in constant and open rebellion to the Law given by God to His people.