Save Some of Them (1 Corinthians 9:19-23, NIV) by Carley Evans


19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Paul had a fine example of how to become all things to all people so that by all possible means he might save some. Of course his example is our example — the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ first transformation was in becoming an infant and growing up into a full-fledged human male, becoming like us, in other words. A slightly later transformation was in becoming a well-educated religious scholar ready to debate and educate His elders in the temple. Yes, Jesus became a Bible Scholar! A later transformation was in becoming like a sinner by joining in the revelry of sinners inside the home of a tax collector — no, He did not sin, but He was not afraid or leery of being seen with sinners. Yes, Jesus became a partygoer!

Paul took Jesus’ example to heart. Paul deliberately did not disassociate himself from others. He did not shun people because they were not Christian, or because they did not fully understand their freedom under Christ, or that they were Jews in lock step with the law, or that they persecuted him for being different from them. Rather he associated himself with all types of people and made himself similar to them in order to gain their respect, their trust, perhaps even their friendship and so save some of them.

We ought to do the same.

Sons & Heirs (Galatians 4:1-7, NIV) by Carley Evans


“4 What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”

Odd that Paul starts this portion of his letter with the aside, “What I am saying” as if he is fully aware that he has not yet convinced his readers in the church of Galatia of the extraordinary truths that they are no longer slaves but fully adopted sons of God and therefore are no longer under the law.

The law, reminds Paul, was only a guardian — a kind of trustee of a future inheritance –right up until Jesus died on the Cross and was subsequently resurrected and ascended to glory. At that moment, born-again believers were transformed. They were adopted as sons and therefore heirs of God’s promise to remove the yoke of the law by fulfilling every jot and stroke of that law through Christ’s sacrifice.

Once freed from the law, Paul exhorts his readers not to try to put themselves back under the yoke and burden of the law which will only drive them deeply into guilt and shame.

Instead, Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4, NIV).

“Suffer the Little Children” by Carley Evans


SSPX0369Stephen King stirred me with his tweet about the odd behavior of some evangelical Christians — an almost schizophrenic behavior. Supposedly evangelicals believe God is love and know Jesus warned not to prevent children from coming to Him. Jesus said something akin to “better to put a giant grinding stone around your neck and fling yourself into the sea than to keep one of these kids from getting close to Me.” Yet, some evangelical ( or fundamentalist or conservative Christians ) are up in arms to keep destitute, desperate South American children from crossing our borders.

Well, you might argue, that doesn’t keep these kids from coming to Christ. Really? Are you sure about that?

So, let’s look at another story Jesus told.

Remember the poor man who was fell upon by robbers along a road and left for dead? Remember the supposedly decent human beings who walked right by him, not offering to help him in the least? Sounds a bit like these schizophrenic evangelical Christians who — as Paul laments — see themselves in the mirror, turn away and forget what they are supposed to look like.

Now I include myself among evangelical Christians though I am not willing to align myself with those who call themselves “conservative.” Conservative is almost a dirty word. Conservative can sometimes mean — in my mind and in the minds of many many liberal thinking persons — “narrow-minded”, “hateful”, “violent”, “racist”, “wicked” — well I could go on but then I’d be too “conservative” for my taste.

GOD is LOVE.

He doesn’t ask us to judge. He doesn’t ask us to enforce His Laws — oops. Actually the one Law God asks us to enforce is the one that says “Love others as yourself.”

If we love others, then how can we turn our backs on these children? We can’t, not if we are truly Christian.

Christians make…


Christians make … radical sacrifices because the overwhelming message of the gospel is that we must die to ourselves and live for Christ. And the way that He wants us to serve Him is to give sacrificially to our brothers and sisters in Christ, the down trodden, the unlovely, our enemies, and the poor. To everyone, really. The reason is not to earn our salvation or to force others to “submit” to our God, but because we are called to be a picture of Christ, the Christ who left his entitlements, comforts, and heavenly abode for those who did not know Him.

ASK THE BIGOT

“Making Jesus Palatable” ( Isaiah 53:3-4, KJV ) by Carley Evans


He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

Jesus, lounging at the table with His disciples and His traitor, shows them a cup and says that they must drink of it – of His blood – if they wish to be in Him and have Him be in them. Then He shows them a hunk of bread and tells them they must eat of it – of His flesh – if they are to be in Him and have Him be in them. The man who sits with them is not a pretty man. His skin though richly dark and olive, is not smooth. And, His eyes are set incorrectly – one slightly higher than the other; one perhaps “lazy.” His black hair is long and unkempt. He has a rough look about Him; as if He’s seen too much of life’s sufferings and injustices. When He stands to walk, His movements are awkward as if a load too big for any man is on His shoulders.

When He asks His friends to eat and drink Him, they obey. Only one leaves because Jesus asks him to go on and do what he must do. For His disciples, Jesus is palatable. They’ve come to know, trust, and love Him as best they can. For Judas, Jesus is utterly unpalatable.

Recently, I caught a headline that a young Christian girl found the Jesus in the film, SON OF GOD “too pretty.” I’m sure the filmmakers were attempting to make Jesus palatable to the un-churched un-believers.

Those of us who are known by Jesus realize Jesus can not be made palatable. His beauty is not of the external. Through the years since His death and resurrection, western artists – for the most part – have painted Him as blue-eyed, blonde, and fair-skinned and handsome, tall, healthy.

I have a strong feeling the Jesus we meet sitting at the right hand of God the Father will look more like the people of the Middle East than we care to believe; and that He will have a ‘wonky’ eye as depicted in some early Christian icons.

Let’s stop trying to make Jesus a physical beauty and remember who He is – the Son of God.

“Making God A Liar” ( I John 1: 8-10, KJV ) by Carley Evans


If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

No, I’m not a sinner. Yes, I am a sinner. But… I’m a sinner saved by grace. Now wait a minute; I’m saved. I do not sin anymore. If I sin, that proves the Holy Spirit is not in charge of me. And if the Holy Spirit is not in charge, then I am not saved. In fact, I am lost. If I am lost, then I am a sinner.

And so on. Circular reasoning?

The author of 1 John writes that “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.” He adds that “if we say that we have not sinned, we make [God] a liar.”

If we claim to be sinless, “[God’s] Word is not in us.”

What we are to do is:

1) Recognize that we are sinners.

2) Confess our sins which we fall into each and every day.

3) Trust that God forgives these sins and make us righteous by His sacrifice.

“My Portion is God” ( Psalm 73:25-26 WYC ) by Carley Evans


For why what is to me in heaven; and what would I of thee on earth? (For what is there for me in heaven, but thee? and what else do I desire here on earth, but thee?) My flesh and mine heart failed; God of mine heart, and my part is God [into] without end. (Though my flesh and my heart fail; but God is my strength, and my portion forever.)

David could be the weary and suffering Job in this passage. Here David speaks perhaps after the shame of murdering Uriah so as to have Bathsheba; perhaps after the death of his son. At any rate, David sings that even if his flesh and heart fail, God is his strength and his portion forever. David rhetorically asks, What else in heaven and earth do I desire? And his answer is, Nothing but You, God.

This truth is what Job discovers in his ordeal. At the end of his rope, so to speak, Job realizes that only God matters, that everything else is a pale shadow compared to Him. Job’s devotion to God does not, however, diminish his love of others or his view of himself. Rather, as Job falls in humility before God, God lifts him up and places him above where he was in the first place.

What do we desire?

“Love, Don’t Talk” (1 John 3:18 HCSB) by Carley Evans


Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action. (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

My little sons, love we not in word, neither in tongue, but in work and truth. (Wycliffe)

But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? (King James Version)

Jesus says exactly the same thing as His disciple says. Jesus says that the least kindness you show to the least is a kindness you show to Him – if you visit the prisoner, you visit Jesus. If you feed the homeless man, you feed Jesus. If you adopt the orphan, you adopt our Lord. And so on.

If we talk love but never show love, then the love of God is not in us. Worse, if we talk love and show hate, then our spirit is not of the Holy Spirit but of our own corrupted nature. We are like pigs remaining in our own mud and corn husks.

God calls us to love in action, not in talk.

“Everything and Yet, Nothing” (1 John 4:9 HCSB) by Carley Evans


God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him.

In the nitty-gritty of day-to-day living, people sometimes – perhaps many times – find God far away or even non-existent. God reveals His Love for people by sending His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ into the world so that people might see Him face to face and know His Love firsthand. (God blesses those who do not see Him face to face and nevertheless believe His Love is real.)

Q: What is the point? 

A: God reveals Himself so that people might live through Him.

Q: What does that mean?

A: Jesus tells us to throw off the burdens of life, pick up His yoke (which He reminds us is light and easy to bear) and follow Him.

Q: Where are we going?

A: Wherever He leads.

Q: What is the cost?

A: Everything; and yet nothing.

“The Lord’s Plans” ( Jeremiah 29:11-13; Hebrews 11:1, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

A very familiar statement – that God intends good for you and me. Perhaps you don’t doubt this; perhaps you do. Maybe you wonder if the apparent lack of “a future and a hope” is your own fault. Maybe you don’t believe you “search for God with all your heart.” Maybe you believe this is why your circumstances seem so bad. Maybe. Maybe not.

Perhaps you are one who sees God’s hand in everything that happens to you. You look around and see that your life is good; that you do indeed have “a future and a hope.” Maybe. Maybe not.

The author of Hebrews pulls out the heroes of the past to illustrate God’s hand in everything. The author writes:

Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.

Then shows how men and women of faith move through seemingly impossible situations with hope. The hope is a country not of this world, but of the next. The present is not the prize, but the future.