As I’ve watched on television the people of Texas deal with the effects of Hurricane Harvey, I’ve heard many reporters and commentators expressing their opinions on the rescues, recovery, and responses about those affected, their neighbors and how both citizens and elected officials around the nation have reacted to this natural disaster. I posted a video interview on my Facebook feed about one man who came from Kentucky to help out. The man told a story of how, while helping, he became hungry was helped by hospitable citizens affected by Harvey with a meal in the midst of their own loss and devastation. His heart-felt and humble testimony, while giving God the glory, was inspiring.
Video of a good Samaritan
Christian groups like Samaritan’s Purse, The Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort, and many others led the response preparing to send people and supplies both now and for the long haul of the recovery. The Cajun Navy from Louisiana loaded their boats and supplies and en masse jumped in the water (both literally and figuratively) to seek, save, and serve their fellow man. The Red Cross is helping with shelters and supplies while coordinating contributions. Govenor Abbot and public officials throughout Texas have rallied together to coordinate their efforts while accepting assistance offered by President Trump from the federal government. Mexico and other countries have also offered to help and are sending aid.
In spite of thousands of what I’d say are wonderful stories and responses to the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey, there are many reporters that seem determined to be critical. They appear to feed on being divisive, disparaging and destructive as they pompously judge the thoughts and motives of elected officials, church leaders and others. I heard one reporter try to bait Govenor Abbot to say that the mayor of Houston made the “wrong call” about evacuating the city. Many in the media are not content to report on brotherly-love, self-sacrifice, and people doing the neighborly and right thing because of their faith in Christ or their patriotism as Americans. They want conflict and controversy. I for one am tired of the media pitting one group against another just to “watch the show” of one group tearing down or into another verbally and even physically.
As I was reading in the gospel of Luke this morning, I came across the passage in Luke 9:49-50 where John tells Jesus that they saw a man driving out demons in Jesus’ name and how they tried to stop him, because, as John said, “he is not one of us.” Jesus replied to John and the apostles, “Do not stop him, for whoever is not against you is for you.” This story is also told in Mark 9:38-41. Sometimes, just like in Jesus and John’s day, people get territorial about their service and critical of others who try to serve God and man. I think Jesus speaks to this in these passages, and there are lessons to learn. As I read this passage, it also called to mind another group of Bible verses that seem to contradict this message. In Matthew 12:30 Jesus says, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” In this passage Jesus had just healed a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute (Matthew 12:22-23) so that the man could both see and hear. Those that saw the miracle were astonished and wondered if Jesus could be the Son of David. The Pharisees, when they heard about the miracle, said Jesus was of Beelzebub, the prince of demons. As such, that is how the Pharisees thought Jesus drove the demon from the blind and mute man. Jesus’ next words address the Pharisees contention and have been quoted by millions, including President Abraham Lincoln. Jesus responded to the Pharisees by saying, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” Jesus could not be casting out demons by the prince of demons. That doesn’t make any sense at all. Our nation needs to know this truth and act on it to survive as a nation. The success and well-being of our cities and our very homes depend on us working together and being united. Too often, we have let dissension, disagreements, and down-right destructiveness reign in our homes, our cities, and our nation. This is one reason why our families have failed, and the divorce rate is at 50%. Recent studies show that Washington D. C. has the highest divorce rate in our nation. Is anyone surprised? In contrast, Hawaii has the lowest divorce rate, so there may be something to being stuck on an island and having to work things out together. I say all this not to meddle or digress, but to inspire thought and consideration for how we may “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…” (Hebrews 10:23-24 NIV) I think that’s what many have done in response to the situation and needs following Hurricane Harvey. They have considered how to spur one another on to love and good deeds.
So what is the answer about the apparent contradiction between what Jesus says? I did find an interesting article that seems to have an answer to the question. (Disclaimer—Please know that I don’t give a blanket endorsement to all of what anyone says unless they are specifically quoting the Word of God. I do think that there are many scholars and Bible students that can present excellent information and insight from which we can decide what to think or believe about a Bible message or passage. As such, I just read the article written and copyrighted by Ken Collins titled “Did Jesus Contradict Himself about Who’s on His Side?” this morning. I do not know the author, except by reading what he has posted about himself, so I encourage you to think, study and decide for yourself on this question and others.) Many say that the Bible contradicts itself. I don’t believe that. I think that sometimes I just don’t have the skill or understanding to fully grasp some of the statements and concepts in the Bible. But – I keep trying, and I’m continuing to study, learn and grow. I hope you are too. As I read Ken Collins article this morning, I think that Ephesians 6:10-18 and especially verse 12 may also tie in to the discussion. I hope you will enjoy the article and dive into the exercise of studying God’s Word and discovering more fully God’s will. Read the article.
In response to a concern I had about the article written by Ken, I want to say that I believe that we all make choices every day in our lives to seek, serve and be subject to God or not. I believe that Jesus was sent as the Son of God to serve His Father’s will and be offered as a sacrifice to save all mankind from sin and eternal death. I believe that God gives us the choice to accept Him and His free gift of redemption through Christ or not. I believe we all choose by our actions, and even by our inactions, whether we will accept Jesus as our Savior or serve ourselves and satan.
Finally, my desire is like that of Paul, who said in I Timothy 2:1-6 “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men— the testimony given in its proper time.” I hope that everyone reading my message will be encouraged and be voices for unity and peace in our homes, cities, and nation. I hope that we will continually seek God and share his wonderful message with our families, friends, and even our foes. Let us think on these things….