Thursday, January 23, 2014

Having our character shaped into a follower of the King (Romans 3:8)

SCRIPTURE: Romans 3:8 (TM) – larger reading Romans 3:8-12
Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble.

Will Rogers was known for his laughter, but he also knew how to weep. One day he was entertaining at the Milton H. Berry Institute in Los Angeles, a hospital that specialized in rehabilitating polio victims and people with broken backs and other extreme physical handicaps. Of course, Rogers had everybody laughing, even patients in really bad condition; but then he suddenly left the platform and went to the rest room. Milton Berry followed him to give him a towel; and when he opened the door, he saw Will Rogers leaning against the wall, sobbing like a child. He closed the door, and in a few minutes, Rogers appeared back on the platform, as jovial as before.

The saying goes something like this: The measure of real character is not found in their public appearance, but how they act when no one is looking.

Paul writes the Christians in Rome about elements of Christian character that somehow have gotten lost in our politically charged world. The story from the life of Will Rogers shows the two sides of his real character the capacity to laugh and the capacity for great sympathy.  The call of God is to be real.

For the last 8 months the comparison between being a Fan of the Kingdom or a Follower of the King has found its way into my thinking and preaching. This spiritual tug-of-war takes place within our soul on a daily or even hourly basis. It is easy to be a Fan, but it is much harder to stay consist as a Follower. One demands very little, the other places a requirement on us that far outstrips our capacity to be real… thus the need to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. Remember that God never asks us to do something that we can do! To be a follower requires us to depend on God to make it happen… often in spit of ourselves. The character qualities mentioned by Paul are possible only by the power of God through the Holy Spirit. They are Follower qualities.

Our tendency is to take sides, feel hurt, betrayed, get angry, pout, vacate, ignore, run away, blame… in other words, our tendency is to pull a “selfie”. While it is necessary to throw up some emotional protection around ourselves we need to be cautious that we don’t miss the lesson that God is trying to teach us in the process. Fans think of themselves, Followers give of themselves. Too much “me” thinking can cause us to miss the lesson God is trying to teach. God is working very hard to make us into a true Follower of the King. God is not comfortable leaving us in the arena as a mere Fan. Lord knows he doesn’t need more fans!

Become real. Become a follower. Become a person of great character.


Boy God this follower stuff is hard. Are you sure this is the only way? I want an easier path, but if you offer the help guess I have no other real choice. “Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.”

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