28 January 2011

Withering Grass

Human pride, what the Greeks called hubris, is a strange and unreasonable thing. It leads us to form an estimate of ourselves that is far too high, at least according to the Bible. We naturally think of ourselves as worthy of love and deserving of respect because of who we are or what we have done or how we have been gifted. Yet with one broad stroke Scripture paints us as flowers of the grass that soon wither (Jas 1:10). Great and small, rich and poor alike appear for a short while, and then fade away like front lawn blades that wither under the sun’s scorching heat. Experience confirms it. Just as a flower’s beauty perishes (Jas 1:11), so one’s outward appearance exhibits the ravages of time. Various creases, losses and illnesses multiply as the years rack up and prove that our bodies are ephemeral, at least in this life. Our earthly existence is fleeting! The inescapable truth is that life is short, beauty is vain, and sin is misery.

In light of this, the Psalmist prays that God would teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom (Ps 90:12). Considering our frailty as well as the shortness and uncertainty of life, we ought to realize that there is no room for human pride. Such meditations, if sincerely pondered and suitably applied, ought to lead us to seek true wisdom, that is, to seek the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Col 2:3). The swift approach of death and the vast expanse of eternity should lead to a heartfelt trust in and earnest embrace of the One who alone can give us hope of a blessed future. Let the march of time and ravages of age motivate our thought, and let us apply ourselves to the humble pursuit of genuine godliness, for that is wise. The Lord Jesus is an inestimable treasure on whom we may rest our confidence, in whom we may find inexpressible joy (1Pt 1:8), and from whom we may receive the words of eternal life (Jn 6:68). Ponder and be wise!

25 January 2011

Called By Name

Being anonymous in a strange place is a lonely feeling. It seems as if no one cares. The popularity of the 1980’s sitcom Cheers was due in part to its being a place “Where Everybody Knows Your Name.” The notion of a local pub with familiar faces, warm acquaintances and intimate friendships was appealing, especially in a culture plagued by fractured relationships, decentralized and sprawling communities, an ever-increasing sense of isolation, and rampant alienation. Interest in such a concept came as no surprise because we were created as social beings who crave the warmth and familiarity of close relationships. Indeed, friendship is one of life’s finest comforts. At root is the fact that God has placed eternity in our hearts (Eccl 3:11). We were made for fellowship! Augustine said, “Our souls cannot find rest until they find their rest in You.”

Perhaps nowhere do we find a more heartening promise of this kind of intimacy than when Jesus says He calls His own sheep by name (Jn 10:3). He refers not to the general appeal made to all, but to that special, intimate, effectual call of an omnipotent King whose Spirit glides sweetly and savingly into the innermost recesses of the soul. He calls by name! He is intimately acquainted with each and every sheep. He knows you individually. He understands you thoroughly. He loves you particularly. There is no need to explain anything to Him. He already knows. You have been called by name. And He says, “Nothing will ever separate us.” Despite the disintegration of family ties, one’s union and communion with Christ can never break. So do you know Him? Does the King know your name? He promises you will never seek His face in vain. Cheers!