“Dance, Monkey, Dance!”

“To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,

“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’

For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.” Luke 7:31-35.

The people of this world will be disappointed if you don’t dance to their tune. And the music can be quite harsh. Jesus was characterized as a glutton, a drunkard, and a friend of the hated tax collections. You may be framed as a racist, bigot, homophobe, white supremacist, or even a nazi. They may want you to kneel, confess, or demonstrate your street cred by turning on your friends. What will you do? Are you going to dance?

Stay on task and stay on message. You may be tempted to dance to a different tune and take sides. But what has God called you to do? Has He called you to reset America? Save the republic? Or advance the kingdom of God?

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12). Give glory to God, lift up the Son, and obey His commands, and you can be sure you will get it from both sides. But your dance will be praise to the Almighy, not tribute to the devil.

Does Christ Offend Us?

The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’” In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” Luke 7:18-23.

Jesus had the goods to convince John and his disciples that they had found the real Messiah. He worked miracles and preached good news to the poor. And yet, the Pharisees saw these same signs and it made them mad. They failed to find their Messiah. Were they even looking for Him?

The Pharisees were the fundamentalists of their day. They believed the scriptures. They ordered their lives around their religion. They had a form of godliness, but it lacked power. Then Jesus shows up, a mere carpenter’s son, and He teaches as one with authority. And He has headline making power! It offended them. It made them green with envy. And ultimately they hated Him.

Have we, the Bible-believers of our day, gotten used to having no miracles? Having no prophets? Does it offend us when the healing ministry rolls into town? For almost 40 years I have seen Christians give the stink eye to ministers of the Gospel who get out the anointing oil and command demons to flee. They look for the failures, and say there is a catch. Meanwhile the suffering and oppressed come out, looking for someone who will agree with them in prayer, that they might touch heaven and be healed.

Jesus’s own disciples were bothered that others started casting out demons in the name of Jesus. “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me.” (Mark 9:39, NIV).

Say the Word

After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.” Luke 7:1-10.

This man understood who Jesus was, and that He did not have to physically show up to exercise His authority over sickness. All Jesus had to do is give the order, and it would be done. Jesus called this understanding “faith.” And He was impressed by the faith of this non-Jew.

Jesus has given us all orders, and made promises to those who believe. Do we follow those orders or take His promises seriously? We are under His authority, yet we ignore His commands. We accept the word of His underlings and petty bureaucrats that we don’t have to do those things. They tell us these orders are passed away, or being carried out by someone more qualified. You can take His word for it.

“For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:18-20).

How to Fail

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” Luke 6:46-49.

In one of Stephen Covey’s books he tells about The Law of the Farm. There are things that have to be done months before you can get a harvest. You cannot cram all those things into the week before you want a crop. There is no cramming in farming.

Jesus also warns us about taking shortcuts on obedience. Too many of us hear His words and then do what WE THINK is most important. We rely on our own abilities, our cleverness, or on good luck. Or even worse, we aren’t even building what He asked for to begin with.

Jesus told us to seek first HIS kingdom, to take up OUR cross, to GO into the world and make disciples. For too many of us, these are not even thought of, so they are not on our schedule.

“For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

Talk is Not Cheap

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:43-45.

Our words are an important component of our lives. James writes, “For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.” (James 3:2). And the Proverbs 10:21 says, “The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.” And, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11).

As ambassadors of Christ, let us make sure that the words of our mouths are worth consuming. And that goes for our keyboards, too.