“I gotta home in the Kingdom, Ain’t that Good News?, I gotta home in that Kingdom, Ain’t that Good News?
Gonna Lay Down This World, Shoulder Up My Cross, Take It Home To My Jesus, Ain’t that Good News
That is well and good, but this spiritual takes an interesting turn. For the singer notes that she is going to lay down the world and then shoulder the cross. We are reminded of Jesus taking the cross, but we are also reminded of the fact that we as Christians will have a cross. But what is interesting is where this cross will go. The singer says that he is going to take the cross to glory. And that is good news.
Think about that for a moment. Do you have a cross that is terrible. Do you have a cross that hurts and overpowers you? Something that is designed to kill you? Well the singer of the Spiritual takes the cross and will live with that cross “shoulder it” until the singer gets to the place where the singer can give the cross to Jesus. And that is good news.
So whatever you are dealing with, the singer reminds us that it is good news to shoulder it up to glory and turn it over to Jesus. You will have to live with some pain here and now, but the singer reminds us that when we shoulder it up to glory and give it to Jesus it is good news. Certainly the singer is not minimizing the cross that we have in our lives. The singer had to bear the brunt of physical and emotional torture that we can only imagine, but the singer turned that pain into power by recognizing that the singer is simply bearing that cross till the singer gets to give it to Jesus.
This “Good News” transforms the cross into an instrument of celebration. i am talking about the cross we bear. We want to celebrate Jesus’ cross, but do we celebrate the cross we have to “shoulder?” The singer finds a moment of celebration in the “shouldering” the cross. Today, I encourage you to find that moment of praise in “shouldering.” Don’t allow evil surmisings to overpower you, instead find a way to celebrate the “shouldering.” Because in the morning, we will all be able to pass that cross over to Jesus and grab the crown.
I am seeing a lot of shuffling, organization, and reorganization in my life. Many of you have the same experience. Further, I have set aside some tasks only to realize that I need to pick them back up again.
I have attempted to go down roads that were not intrinsically wrong, but were not the path that I should be on. I have seen that some plans weren’t unquestionably right for me and some steps needed to be retraced. But in all of these things, I am happy that God not only uses our steps, but can also use our missteps for God’s glory.
I am not saying that evil and righteousness should be equally celebrated. No, we should never be happy that we made poor decisions, but neither should we be totally discouraged or overwhelmed by our remembrance of these issues. Your past may not be something to emulate, but I am saying that God can even use and redeem and recycle even our misdeeds and turn them into something greater.
I am reminded of Revelation 21 where John received a marvellous vision of the coming world where righteousness and peace reign. We see a “New Jerusalem” coming down out of heaven (Revelation 21:2). This is Jeruselem. Yes, you have heard of this place. Yes, you know of the glorious history. Yes, you know of the marvellous things that happened there. You also know of its mistakes. You know of times that God punished Isreal. You know the history. It is an old entity.
But there is something different about this Jeruselem. It is a “New Jeruselem.” True, it is something we know about, for you know about Jeruselem, but it is different from what the readers knew about for it is called “new.” It was another manifestation of what we know. It is a newer understanding of what we held dear. It is still what we knew and love, but it is also new.
The tears of the hurting are wiped away. Death is destroyed in this NEW manifestation. We are told that there is no more crying. (Revelation 21:4) You see it is Jerusalem, but it ain’t Jerusalem like you remember. It is a NEW Jerusalem.
Then the writer records the one who sat on the throne saying, “I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5) It is not just Jerusalem that is new, it is all things that are made new. Everything is new. So in everything we can look for a little old becuase that One didn’t say that new things would be made. Not “new things,” but “made new.” No, we can expect to find the new in the old. We can expect to find the New springing fourth out of the old. No, it is not New Things, but making the things we already have New.
Today, I encourage you to look for God making new out of the old. Look at the same job that you are called to work. You may be able to find new springing forth from the old. Look at that family situation that you are in. Look for where God is bringing forth new out of the old.
God will make all things new, but the greatest blessing is that today, God is able and desirous of making us new. And by doing that, God can transform even the most mundane existence into a glorious future.
The singer finds herself in the midst of trouble. This is not just regular troubles. No, this is troubles of every kind. Many of us can identify with the singer.
When our hot water heater goes out at just the wrong time, we have troubles of every kind. When our only reliable transportation has difficulties, we have troubles of every kind. When our children fail to live up to the principles we tried to instill in them, we have troubles of every kind.
A church member yelled across the street at another member who he recognized. He said, “Hey Brother Lance” (not his real name). Brother Lance yelled back, “don’t call me brother, call me pastor.” This story illustrates something that I see a lot amongst us.
There is the question of disrespect, but there is also the issue of folks making a big deal out of titles. There is the issue of wanting to have the title without ministering.
Being in interdenominational ministry is interesting as it comes to titles. Some folks can make a really big deal out of them. Some folks care little about them. I try to use a generic title that can be applicable to everyone and I get grief. some are offended that I didn’t call them Pastor. Some are offended that I called them pastor. Some are offended that I simply called them Reverend while others are offended if you don’t call them reverend.
It looks like a lot of folks have a number of titles that move up. There is the lowly Brother and Sister that goes for the laity. They don’t deserve the titles that we ministers believe we deserve. Then there are the lowly “ministers” who haven’t been ordained yet and thus don’t have the title Reverend. Some ordained ministers will get upset if you call an unordained preacher a reverend.
Then there is Reverend. They have been ordained, but they haven’t got a church yet. Don’t make the mistake of calling a Pastor “Reverend”…they might bite your head off.
Then there is evangelist. That can be an ordained person or it might be an unordained person that takes the title because their church won’t ordain them. Likewise in some churches they take the title “minster” because their church doesn’t use the term and they are trying to claim ministerial standing.
But after all that then there is Bishop.
I can just call someone what they wish to be called. But should I get into their denominational squabbles? At the end of the day, I mean you no disrespect. I often use the term “pastor” or a generic “preacher” when referring to you. yes it is probably above what some of you think you should have…and below what others think they should have.
But as for myself. I think I’m gonna take the term “Brother.” Just call me Brother Cox. While I am ordained and have a theological degree, I think there can be no higher calling then to be a brother in the kingdom of God. I had been using the term “elder” which is a Biblical term and one that I have been ordained to. I have been called Reverend, because I am ordained. I have been called pastor because I have served in an assistant pastoral position. But the title game is one we need to get over…and I will make my little step in that direction. I will still call you reverend, pastor, or the like…but as for me…just call me Brother…I am your brother…
“I believe in turning the other cheek and all, but you can’t let people take advantage of you.” That, is a very sensible sentiment that one often hears from Christians. In fact it seems to be the normal way we teach the call found in Matthew 5:39. Like so many other aspects of the radical call to discipleship, we have taken its teeth out and left it as an empty meaningless shell.
But what does it mean? One thing we learn from the text is that Jesus is not calling for us to avoid the confrontation. In this text, Jesus didn’t say “stay away from those who might smite you on the cheek.” That certainly is good practice. It makes sense to stay away from those who might
We can become immune to the radical nature of our faith by hearing something over and over again. One of the radical statements that we domesticate is the call to “Turn The Other Cheek” found in Matthew 5:39. This is an interesting call.
There are some interesting thoughts from this call. First, the Master didn’t say run away from the “evil person.” Such a call might infer cowardice. That is not the only interpretation of such an event, but certainly it is one.
The Master didn’t say try not to be invovled with the evil person. Keep your face away from the evil person.
The master didn’t say return the swat on the face.
No the master demonstrated a radical way of being in the world. We stand there and take it, but we don’t return the evil.
It is not a call to cowardice. The master didn’t say run away from the Turnign the other cheek is an interesting call. Sometimes we are immune to how radical of some of our statements. We quickly say “turn the other cheek.” Many of us say we attempt to live by this and some of the other statements of Jesus.
However, when the rubber hits the road, we start dancing. Jesus tells us that we have heard “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” First, where have you heard such a thing?
You have heard it in just about every area of life. In fact it is the very code of our existence. When our children are bullied we teach them to not allow themselves to be taken advantage of. When someone cuts us in line, we don’t allow it to happen.
In fact some have even said that Jesus didn’t mean that you let people take advantage of you…Well if this text does not say that, what could he have said to imply that. Clearly Jesus says if someone strikes you, turn the other cheek onto that one.
And if you want to argue that it does not mean what we know it means, as some seek to argue, the next verse tells us that if someone takes you to court and takes your shirt, go head on and give that one your jacket. Matthew 5:40. Again, I say, What?!
How can one live like that. Will that one have any possessions at all? Will that one simply go through life allowing others to get over on them? Will that one be able to live in this life?
Now some want to argue, “Hey the scripture is telling us not to allow these things to take first place….If we do
Christianity is to live a “Christ Centered Life.” That is to take the sermon on the mount and truly live by these principles. That sounds so good, but we Christians can say that very clearly and forcefully, until someone starts reading the sermon on the mount…
At that point we start dancing and dodging. I mean what does the sermon on the mount say? “turn the other cheek.” Will that work?
Nobody Knows The Trouble I See
Nobody Knows but Jesus
Nobody Knows the Trouble I See
We are all in trouble in this world. And this trouble is greater than others can see. People look at us and see good and bad things happening to us from the outside. The Bible says that Humanity looks on the outward appearance. (1 Samuele 16:7) All we can see is what is going on on the outside. So we look and we see that you are going through something.
But the singer says that what you see ain’t all there is. No there is even a greater trouble than you see. You ain’t seen how bad it really is for the singer. No, the singer is in the midst of a terrible circumstance and not only that there is nobody who understands. There is nobody who feels. There is nobody who can even see it!
But then The singer either has a revelation or was holding back some pertinent information for Nobody knows it BUT JESUS. Yes there is one who sits high and looks low. There is one who sees everything. There is one who knows even the full extent of our troubles.
Then after that revelation, the singer says “glory hallelujah”. The singer doens’t tell us here exactly why this is something to celebrate. Perhaps the singer remembers the scripture that tells us that Jesus is able to help us becuase he suffered (being tempted) in this wretched earth and lived where we live. (Hebrews 2:18)
Perhaps the singer begins celebrating becuase there is power in someone simply knowing what the singer has to go through. Maybe the singer uplifts praise to the most high becuase God is there and will not allow my pain to go unheard. God will listen to us when we pray. Maybe the singer uplifts praise becuase God will overturn the pain into good for the Bible tells us that weaping only has a short duration and Joy will come in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)
I don’t know, but one thing I do know, we can be sure God is with us. We can be sure that Jesus cares. And we can be sure that “There is a balm in Gilead that heals the sin sick soul.” In Jesus, Our pain is overcome. And yes, in Jesus our pain is heard.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the reality that you are with us in our pain. We acknowledge that you hear us and even when we can’t see the other side of the storm, we thank you for leading the ship through the treacherous waters to the sunlight of a limitless future.