One of the criticisms of Charles Dickens works by other authors was that the characters he created were just caricatures and not full orbed or rounded people.
All the notable traits of his characters were accentuated and distorted for comedy and dramatic effect removing some of the true to life aspects of their portrayal.
I fear that many of us as Christians are little more than caricatures of Christianity rather than true examples of Christianity in living practice.
We may have some of the trappings of Christianity but are lacking in the most necessary attributes such as selflessness and genuine meekness.
Worse still we may have the “holier than thou” attitude savouring more of the Pharisee than the follower of Christ.
Others may have a Christianity which is all head and little heart, while others have only a sentimental or Sunday worship Christianity.
Still others are all good works but have little understanding of the truths of the Word and therefore miss the end in all Christ’s service.
How important it is therefore to have a sound understanding and wholehearted seeking for Christ , by His Spirit to graft Himself into our lives and daily lives and make us true imitators of our Saviour .
This is not to say that all Christians are to be alike or that they will no longer have their individuality and idiosyncrasies but rather that they will grow and grow proportionately to the full stature of Christ.
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,” Ephesians 4:11-13 E.S.V.
Standing for the truth!
I read in a book, (I think A.G. Dickens on the English Reformation), the story of a mentally handicapped man who was refused Church membership because He was not thought capable of understanding Christianity. On his way out of the church he was heard reciting, “Three in one, One in three, One in the middle, He died for me.”
This man, despite his deficiencies made the effort and understood something of the gospel message and believed it.
Many of us, despite much greater mental acuity content ourselves with little knowledge and even less understanding of the things of Christ and the truths of Scripture.
So it happens when our faith is assailed by false doctrine and heresy we “Drop sail” and yield.
There are those who make “discernment” a matter of knowing where demons are present and active. Rather the discerning Christian is the one who recognizes plausible counterfeits of Christianity and rejects them for the falsehoods they are.
The “Christian” leader will inevitably face criticism. Rather be criticized for being faithful, unflinching and honest in the bold proclamation of the “whole counsel of God”, than for watering down, glossing over or ignoring scriptural teaching.
Some church pastors and teachers may be highly successful in drawing great attendances, have lively and exciting worship and a great list of social programs etc. but if they are not proclaiming Scriptural Christianity and the Biblical way of Salvation then all they do will be only splendid sins.
Many say we should not judge lest we be judged.
I say “Preach the Word of God” be faithful to its teaching and do not yield to the fear or favour of men and modify your preaching to mollify them. Then we will have no cause for criticism and know that God is with you in truth.
Stopping Death in its tracks!
Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son
11 Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country. Luke 7:11-17 (ESV)
This portion of scripture is precious in that it is a foreshadowing of Christ’s ultimate conquest over death by His Resurrection.
Perhaps only someone who has recently lost someone dear can enter into the emotion and tragedy of this scene.
Death is seen at its worst. A young man, his mother’s only stay and support is cruelly taken away in the prime of life.
Yet even as the pall bearers are taking the lifeless body away they are stopped in their course by the one who is the Lord over death and the giver of eternal life.
The sorrowful tears of the bereft mother were exchanged for tears of joy when at the word of Christ; the dead son was restored to her alive.
It was no wonder that fear and worship gripped the amazed crowd of mourners. God had indeed visited His people. If only they had realized the day of His visitation!
While we may not see the dead visibly raised, the day will come when we will.
In a Spiritual sense we know that through the power of Christ in the gospel, men and women, boys and girls, are being raised from the death of sin and delivered from the second death and brought to the only “life” worthy of the name.
We all have loved ones and neighbours who are as dead in sin as this young man was dead in body.
Let us all pray that like this young man, they will be stopped in their tracks on the way to a hope-less eternity and brought to salvation and life in Christ.
And to Him alone be the glory!
Gordon Harker : ( 1885- 1967) was one of the unlikely “lads” who starred and supported in over sixty British films of the thirties, forties and fifties.
If anything he was an “anti-hero” who ended up on top more by good luck than good management.
He invariably played the “lugubrious, shifty cockney”.
(from “The Phantom light”1935)
He was noted for playing “Inspector Hornley” in a trilogy of films and was ably supported by Alistair Sim.
I confess I originally found him hard to take to and a bit unlikeable but he has a tendency to grow on you and after a while you come to admire him and his worldly wise ways.
In the Christian life we meet all sorts. Many of them are not quite our “cup of tea” and have little appeal for us.
It may be only upon closer examination that we see the truth of their Christianity and the Christ-like characteristics in their daily living. We owe some people a second look and the benefit of the doubt before we write them off.