Peace Had a Price

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19.)

God made peace with us by paying the price with the blood of His own son. Justice had to be served. Sin had to be paid for. By doing this, God made sure the claims of justice were met. We no longer have to fear God’s judgment because of what He did. We no longer have to hide. All we have to do is believe.

But there is more. We are able to bring word of this reconciliation to others. God is no longer holding a grudge for your sins. Neither can I hold grudges. When I remember someone’s fault against me, I recall the price that was paid for both of our sins. Justice has been served. It has made us both free.

Donald Marsh ©2020

Love Your Enemies

Jesus told us to love our enemies. Why?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Jesus, in Matthew 5:43-45.

God loves your enemies, just as He loves you. These are not idle platitudes.  They come from one who knew He would be betrayed and murdered after a rigged trial at night. While hanging on a cross, bleeding out for the sins of even His accusers, He said, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

You don’t know what you’re doing, either, when you pack the court of public opinion and join the mob calling for the scalp of someone you don’t know. You need to know that you are trying to cancel the forgiveness of the sins of your enemy, but you cannot. By doing so, you only cancel your own. By judging them, you bring judgment on yourself. 

“In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” (2 Corinthians 5:19). Be reconciled to God by believing in what Christ has done for you. Be reconciled to your enemy by extending the same mercy to him.

If you already believe in who Jesus is and what He did for you, remember that you are an ambassador from the kingdom of God, proclaiming peace with God through Jesus Christ. You are not at war with other humans, but against the false gods of this world who have blinded those who do not yet believe.

Donald Marsh ©2020

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The Good Tax Collector

Back in 2010, while I was running for mayor, I was at a barbecue for all local candidates and I met Von Fraser. He saw me and waved me over to sit with him. I was surprised, because we had never met before and I didn’t even realize he knew who I was. It proved to be a fortuitous meeting.

Von almost immediately started telling me about his work. It was not at all what I expected, as he shared with me how he tried not to take people’s homes who were in arrears on their property taxes. He actually tried to help them refinance their houses and otherwise use what was available in the system to give them relief and help them stay in their homes. It was as if he was trying to impart to me his ethos of public service. Not only was he successful at doing so, but he completely upended my image of the local tax collector. I saw him as a great asset to the community.

The Bible takes a dim view of tax collectors, particularly in the New Testament. They are often lumped together with prostitutes and sinners. They were usually Jews who worked for the Roman government, which made them collaborators and traitors. One in particular, named Zacchaeus, is frequently pointed out by Sunday School teachers as one who got rich by cheating the people. The trouble with that is that the Bible no where says this about him. It has been assumed.

Poor Zacchaeus is often framed by his declaration that he would give half his money to the poor, and if he had cheated anyone, he would pay it back four-fold. This sounds less like and admission of guilt than a challenge to anyone who would make such an accusation. Besides, if he had gotten rich that way, it would have been mathematically impossible to give back four times what he stole, especially after giving half his wealth away. I am more inclined to think of him as a first century Von Fraser, trying to soften the blow upon the poor and needy.

Still, the Jews automatically despised him as one who worked for the enemy. He was guilty by association. And Jesus got grief from the people for being his friend (Luke 19:1-10).

But don’t we do this ourselves today? Are we not ready to accuse people of the worst crimes because of their political persuasion, the color of their skin, their sex, or religion? Did I miss anyone? Yet Jesus said He came to seek and to save the lost. Zacchaeus was one of those Jesus came to save, but He came for the others, also. But they didn’t seem to realize they needed to be saved.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, like the good tax collector, has an image problem. The world thinks both are coming to charge us a fee and a penalty. But they are actually coming to alleviate the burden. And Jesus does better than the most compassionate tax collector: He has come to take our penalty upon Himself. If you put your faith in Him and believe in who He is and what He has done for you, it will upend your world and change your thinking. If it doesn’t do that, you may be one of the grumbling accusers who still thinks Zacchaeus should be shunned, and are unaware that you are lost.

Von Fraser passed away in 2014, while I was preparing to move out of Gainesville. We had never cultivated a friendship after our initial meeting, and I regret that we didn’t get to know each other better. But he was a man who deserved to be remembered.

 

My Return to Other Subjects

I’m sure that many people just thought I stopped reading the Bible every day, but that would be incorrect. I went to visit family in New York and had not taken my computer. It was too difficult to post from my phone, so I just took my Bible notes straight to Facebook instead of posting the link to this site.

I had started posting them here in this blog because I thought it would be convenient for someone who wanted use this as a reference, but there is very small demand for my opinion on the psalms or the Book of Ruth. Besides, I am doing this for ME. I need to read, analyze, and post to exercise my spirit and my mind, regardless of who is reading it.

I also did it to keep my mind free of the horrible political nastiness that we had achieved as a nation by this past August. I had no idea it would get as bad as it has since then. I also didn’t know how badly the church would be effected by it. We seem to be getting our marching orders from various activist groups instead of the Bible and the Holy Spirit.

Unfortunately, it is not enough to preach the truth and ignore the errors of our godless nation. You actually must oppose evil. As Paul told Titus, “They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach,” Titus 1:11. Stay tuned.

Our Creative Class

Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone;
for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.

Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
the tongue that makes great boasts,

those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
our lips are with us; who is master over us?” Psalm 12:1-4.

Words are powerful. We can use them to do great harm and build up. With them we create our own worlds and write our own story. But they must get past the editor-in-chief. After all, He is the creator of the world, and His is the greater story.

When writing for publication, it is a good idea to find out what the editor wants, so that your manuscript will be accepted. It is He who cuts off the lying lips and the boastful tongue.