One of our local radio stations has a talk show host who devotes a section of his program to what he calls “Idiot of the Day.” In the last 24 hours, I’ve come across several people who would easily win that title.
Last night, when I was driving home from church, I got stopped at the traffic lights at a busy intersection, right next to the interstate. I happened to glance over at the car on my left side and was totally shocked at what I saw. A middle aged couple was in the front of the car with no seat belts and laughing carelessly.
Shocking? Surely not, John, I hear you say. But it gets worse. In between the couple was a small ten year old boy. His right hand was on the steering wheel whilst his “Dad’s” left hand held on to it, too. When the traffic lights turned to green, the young boy was actually steering the car! No seat belts, no signals, and no common sense. These idiots were all over the road and all three of them were laughing away. If I could have spotted their license plate, I would have called the police.
But just when I thought I had never seen a more idiotic trio of idiots in Tennessee, this morning I saw someone who topped them all. I was driving to church along the busy five lane interstate, when all of a sudden all the vehicles in the five lanes of traffic had to apply their brakes. A guy was running across the five lanes of traffic to get to the median where he would have to run across another five lanes in order to get to the other side. Totally unbelievable!
John 14:15 If you love me, you will obey what I command.
You know there are some scary people out there folks, and their stupidity endangers the rest of the community. And that’s also the message for this morning. Jesus says that those who love Him will obey His commands. But we’re living in a society where church members believe that it’s okay to love Jesus, but we don’t have to follow His commands. And the trouble is this: those who stupidly and sometimes brazenly discard Christ’s commands are endangering the souls of the whole Church community. Instead of sticking to the rules, teachings, and words of God through Christ, foolish theologians, prideful pastors, and completely misguided church members are heading down a dead end path that leads to oblivion, instead of heaven. It may be alright for these careless individuals to follow their own ways and end up separated from God, but the Biblical ignorance and Christian superficiality of some in Christ’s flock is causing them to stray away.
I think that’s why Christ’s emphasizes this in His teaching: “If you love me, obey my commands.” This is not unconditional love, as some misguided preachers and teachers would have us believe. This is a love that has responsibilities placed upon it. We cannot say that we love Jesus and then go and do what we want. It may not be popular to preach or make people happy about their faith, but then again we have to ask ourselves these questions: does our faith shape us or do we shape our faith? Do we love Jesus freely without His conditions, or are we willing to love Him faithfully and serve Him responsibly?
Personally, I think if the Church has any future in the World, then it has to rediscover its backbone of Christ’s commands and teachings.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, it’s getting harder to be a Christian in the world. We’ve let things slide and we each have failed to live up to Your commands. We want to love You truly, but we are afraid to love You conditionally. Forgive our foolish ways and help us to reclaim our spiritual strength through Your ways, words, and works. In Your Holy Name, we contritely pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.