Posts Tagged ‘Racism’

Matthew 15:21-28 – WAS JESUS A RACIST OR DEMOLITION SPECIALIST?

WAS JESUS A RACIST OR DEMOLITION SPECIALIST? (Artwork by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net)

WAS JESUS A RACIST OR DEMOLITION SPECIALIST?
(Artwork by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net)

Why then did the missionaries who came to speak at our Church when I was young at Wagga Wagga in NSW, Australia, encourage people to commit their lives to go to the uttermost parts of the world? They would even quote Jesus words in the great commission from Matthew 28:19 and preach on the word “GO!” They would quote Acts 1:8 (NLT) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me EVERYWHERE—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ENDS OF THE EARTH.”

So what is it with Jesus when He says to this Canaanite woman who lives on the edge of Israel’s territory that He is sent only to help Israel? (Matthew 15:24). Why was He sent only to help Israel? What makes them better than us? Is Jesus a racist; rejecting other nations? Did He limit the gospel to Galilee, His home territory? No Gentiles! No Samaritans! No Romans! Only to Jews. Only the familiar; the safe-ground; the Comfort Zone; the Sofa gospel; the selected invitation gospel; only the Jews can come to My party gospel!

Didn’t Jesus know about Acts 1:8 and what about John 3:16 “For God loved THE WORLD so much that He gave His One and only Son, so that EVERYONE who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” This doesn’t paint Jesus a Racist and a Chauvinist so why then is He being so selective concerning the Jews when it comes to this Gentile woman crying out for mercy?

Doesn’t He know about Galatians 3:26-29 (NLT) – “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on the character of Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer JEW OR GENTILE, slave or free, MALE AND FEMALE. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are His heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.” According to this, Jesus could never be accused of being a racist or a chauvinist.

What am I to make of this contradiction, Lord? What are you saying to me? If you drive by the Equal Rights verse from Galatians 3 above too quickly you’ll miss it. It speaks about a promise that was once made by God to Abraham. Abraham was the father of the Jewish race; all through the Old Testament the Jews are the people God chose to take His message to the nations. 1 Chronicles 16:24 (NLT) says they were to “Publish His glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things He does.” Psalms 67:2-3 (NLT) says “May Your ways be known throughout the earth, Your saving power among people everywhere. May the nations praise You, O God. Yes, may all the nations praise You.”

The Jews failed to take the message to the nations and became an exclusive club. Because of God’s promises to them Jesus is sent to give them a second chance; to help them concerning the New Covenant message; to enable them to fulfil their redemptive purpose. God honours His promise to Israel and in Matthew 15 Jesus obviates the prejudices of the disciples to bring them to see God’s purpose.

Jesus says His priority is to help first His lost sheep in Israel. He is less interested in equality and much more interested in this Gentile woman receiving and believing the message of the gospel? By His initial silence and a few words to this woman, He is helping His disciples understand that they have a responsibility to share the message of the gospel with the Gentiles. They still don’t get it until Jesus affirms this woman’s great faith and He heals her daughter as requested. This Gentile. This woman. This rejected one finds hope and healing, acceptance and inclusion in the presence of her Saviour.

He honours His promises to me today. His Word is faithful. Thankyou Father for being the God of the second chance when I don’t get it right the first time. Thankyou for making me an heir to the promises you made to Abraham so long ago. Thankyou for reaching out to the very ends of the earth. Thankyou for breaking down the walls of hostility and touching us with Your love.

Ephesians 2:13-14 (NLT) says “But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to Him through the blood of Christ. For Christ Himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in His own body on the cross, He broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.” Far from being a racist He is a demolition specialist, breaking down the walls between us and God and the walls we build between each other.

Pastor Ross

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Matthew 15:21-28 – A HEART LIKE A DOG 

HEART LIKE A DOG

HEART LIKE A DOG

Poster – “What A Beautiful World It Would Be If People Had Hearts Like Dogs”

Like dogs in a pack they turn on her, bearing their teeth. All round her Rejection’s emissaries are insisting that she stop knocking, seeking and asking. Back off! His disciples want Jesus to send her away. They are bothered. They are embarrassed by this Gentile begging for mercy, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely” (Matthew 15:21-28 NLT).

She is met with silence. Jesus ignores her. Is this a test? Rudeness? Is He a Racist and a Chauvinist? Silent! Ignoring me while Mercy and Compassion are brushed from the table as crumbs? Is he waiting to see what I will do when faced with the dismissive growls of His followers, those who walk with Him and claim they know Him?

The disciples were concerned that Jesus offended the Pharisees, but are more than willing to send this Gentile away. She is defiled in their eyes like her demonised daughter. The hounds are baying, not realising their own natures resonate more with Pharisaic attitudes than with Jesus. Jesus has already said that it is what issues from the mouth that defiles you, and exposes your heart.

Is Jesus’ silence designed to confront and challenge His disciples with their prejudices? Are they really bothered by a woman in desperate need? Surely He cannot mould a miracle from the smouldering cauldrons of their narrow-mindedness? Is He waiting to test the mettle of any mercy He may find in them? In me?

In those moments of desertion and dismissal when disciples snarl and Jesus remains silent, she is faced with a choice to withdraw and keep her dignity, …. but she refuses to go away. Why would the Lord be in Gentile territory if not to help this woman of persistent faith? At what point will I turn away? Will it be the point just before I am to receive the miracle I need?

Jesus does not let her savour the sweetness of any hope, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.” Another door shuts in her face, … yet still she knocks. Still she persists. She comes to Him and worships Him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!” But Jesus is also persistent. He responds, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” Did Jesus just call this woman a DOG?

How would I respond? Would I turn away at this point, insulted and hurt. She isn’t disgusted that He is being insensitive or that she is being discriminated against. She isn’t interested in taking Him before the Anti-Discimination Tribunal. She cares more to seek His compassion than to court these words as offensive.

And in that moment she accepts that in His presence she is a dog, … but not a mangy, mongrel, rabid kind of dog; wild and prowling for garbage. She is a small domesticated persistent pet dog begging at the table for morsels of mercy. Even a discarded scrap from Jesus would be enough. Yes, she is more interested in grace than equality. She replies, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their Master’s table” (Matthew 15:27 NLT).

When Jesus leads her to understand who He is and why He has come, she worships Him, trusts in Him, humbles herself before Him. How do I feel about being a dog in Jesus’ presence? “Dear woman,” Jesus says to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed” (Matthew 15:28 NLT). 

James 4:10 (NLT) says “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honour.” 

He cuts across my sensitivities. At the extremities of my despair I come to a sure realisation of who I am in the presence of a holy God and that I really don’t deserve anything from Him. Yet in that place of exposure and despair He extends to me His grace, and mercy falls like lifegiving crumbs from His table to bring healing and wholeness to my world. 

Pastor Ross

 

Matthew 7:6 – “JESUS IS SO INSULTING?”

Pig-Dog

Why does the Bible appear to be so JUDGMENTAL, INSULTING and ANTAGONISTIC in it’s imagery at times. Even Jesus calls people dogs and hogs. How can He be so INSULTING? Although this association with being part of the animal kingdom may appeal to the Evolutionists, not everyone likes the idea of being called a WILD DOG, FERAL PIG, GOAT or even a SHEEP.

GOLIATH said to David “Am I a DOG that you come at me with a stick?” (1 Samuel 17:43 NLT). He is obviously insulted by having David as an opponent. Mephibosheth, who has a physical disability, speaks of himself as a DEAD DOG  which doesn’t say much about his self-esteem (2 Samuel 9:8). Shimei, who threw stones at King David is also called a DEAD DOG by Abishai (2 Samuel 16:9) as a term of derision and contempt (with the obvious emphasis on desiring him to be dead). ENEMIES of Israel are called DOGS (Psalm 59:6). Deuteronomy 23:18 calls HOMOSEXUALS (male prostitutes) DOGS. Revelation 22:15 (NLT) includes a host of dogs. It says “Outside the city are the DOGS—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.” FOOLS (those who don’t acknowledge God or obey Him) are called DOGS in Proverbs 26:11.

Those who go HALF-WAY in believing are called DOGS AND PIGS? 2 Peter 2:20-22 (NLT) says “And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before. It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life. They prove the truth of this proverb: “A dog returns to its vomit.” And another says, “A washed pig returns to the mud.”” If you want to insult someone it seems calling them a “DOG” or a “PIG” will do it every time!

Jesus calls a person who is ANTAGONISTIC towards God’s Truth a DOG AND A PIG. Jesus says in Matthew 7:6 (NIV) “Do not give DOGS what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to PIGS. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” Someone said followers of Christ “… are not to be judges, but, also, they are not to be fools.” Proverbs 9:8 (NLT) says “So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you. But correct the wise, and they will love you.” Sunshine can hard-bake the earth or melt ice. Discernment seeks an open, receptive heart and not a cynical, antagonistic one.

Jesus refers to a Samaritan woman as a GENTILE “DOG”. Jews in this ancient time did not eat pigs and they despised dogs. He says in Matthew 15:24-26 (NLT) ““I was sent only to help GOD’S LOST SHEEP—THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL.” But she came and worshiped Him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!” Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the DOGS”” He eventually heals her daughter but today He would be HOUNDED by the press for such a comment and rejected by a large section of the population. He did not apologise.

Is He saying that Christianity is exclusively for Jews? Back in Matthew 10:5 “Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: “Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but ONLY TO THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL—GOD’S LOST SHEEP.” There it is again. ONLY ISRAEL! Israelis are likened to SHEEP. Gentiles were seen as PIGS and DOGS! You would think that JESUS IS A RACIST – only concerned for His own nation. No Gentiles. No Samaritans. No Romans. ONLY JEWS.

But then, just when you think you have Jesus pegged as a RACIST, He says in Acts 1:8 (NLT) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me EVERYWHERE—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ENDS OF THE EARTH.” That’s about as inclusive as you can get. John 3:16 certainly isn’t racist – “For God loved the world so much that He gave His One and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”

Galatians 3:26-29 (NLT) echoes with all-inclusiveness when it speaks about faith in Christ – “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on the character of Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are His heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.”

So what’s with the seemingly “RACIST” comments as opposed to the inclusive ones? Gentiles change their PIG-DOG status for SHEEP enfolded in God’s flock, when we believe and receive what Christ has done for us when He died on the Cross for our sins. When I was an ENEMY (opposed) to God’s purposes (a DOG and a PIG), He didn’t give up on me.

The invitation is to be a friend not an enemy of God and His purposes, to be enfolded into His flock not savaging them. For followers of Christ it is to share your faith intentionally with those who will receive it and show some discernment with those who don’t.

Pastor Ross

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Genesis 24 – THINGS THAT DON’T GO TOGETHER – Part 3

Just Married!

The engine of a Fiesta in a Ferrari! Pickles and icecream. There are certain things that definitely DON’T go together. Aluminium foil and microwaves (Julie rediscovered this recently). Children and cancer. Wouldn’t it change the world if honesty and politics went together.

It was dark when I dressed and when I arrived at the Church building we sat around in a small circle of dedicated students learning and reciting Greek declensions with our Pastor. It was about halfway through one of these early morning classes that I noticed my shoes. I was wearing TWO DIFFERENT KINDS OF SHOES! Very embarrassing. I wonder if anybody else noticed? Certain things should not be worn together.

Deuteronomy 22:10 (NLT) says “You must not plough with an ox and a donkey harnessed together.” The idea here is that there are certain things that are totally INCOMPATIBLE. They were never meant to be placed in the same yoke, never meant to be together in the same equation. Just won’t fit! Won’t make sense! Doesn’t work well!

Abraham wants his son to marry a woman from among his own relatives and insists that he must not marry a Canaanite girl. It almost seems RACIST! Wouldn’t it be better to form an alliance through marriage with the people who are there in the land promised to Abraham? What an easy way of claiming the promised land. You would think that it would HELP THE PROMISE along a little. So far Abraham only owns a burial plot that he bought for Sarah. Why not also form a covenant through a marriage to a Canaanite girl with his son? It was clear that he DOES NOT WANT THIS TO HAPPEN. Why? Are we to be DISCRIMINATORY when we choose a marriage partner? No, but we are to be DISCRIMINATING.

The Bible speaks of our relationship with God as being the most important relationship we will ever have, even more important than our marriage relationship. When we marry we form a COVENANT. That covenant is used as a picture of our relationship with God. Ephesians 5:25 (NASB) says “Husbands, love your wives, just AS CHRIST ALSO LOVED THE CHURCH and gave Himself up for her,…”   The Canaanites were idol worshipers and REJECTED THE GOD OF ABRAHAM.

There are certain things that DEFINITELY DON’T GO TOGETHER. Ur and Abraham. Sodom and Lot. Idols and the temple. Christ and the devil. Light and darkness. Righteousness and wickedness. A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST MARRYING AN UNBELIEVER. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (NLT) says “DON’T TEAM UP WITH (be UNEQUALLY YOKED with) those who are unbelievers.” It’s like harnessing an ox and an ass together.

Abraham is confident that the Lord will send an ANGEL ahead of the servant to help him find the right girl for Isaac among his relatives. Angels have already played an important part in Abraham’s life (Genesis 18, 19, 22). By the way, he is not talking about A CUPID-LIKE ANGEL, so let’s not go there. It was probably Gabriel or Michael, the fiercest of all angels, sent to protect the promises of God to Abraham.

A GREAT NATION was coming through Abraham. JESUS would one day be born through this family line and it seems God didn’t want anybody or anything, demonic or otherwise, to interfere with the process of finding Rebekah. Abraham’s faith had been tested and he had learned some valuable lessons. He is doing everything he can to make sure that he doesn’t get in the way of God again.

Perhaps it was the archangel Gabriel who was sent. Afterall Gabriel turns up at the birth of Christ to Mary (Luke 1:26) and angels throughout the Bible have a way of protecting people (and I might add of scaring them to death in the process. It seems they always have to reassure people by saying “Do not fear!” so they obviously aren’t the cute, fat baby-like cupid angels that we see on wedding invitations).

In a world where Satan wants to destroy Godly marriages because they are a picture of our relationship with Christ, is this your opportunity to pray that God would SEND AN ANGEL to protect you and that God would lead you to the right person to marry? Some people are just meant to be together.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 24 – GOD HAS AN ONLINE DATING SERVICE! – Part 2

Online Love

“Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match…”

The most successful INTERNET DATING SITES today, according to Wikipedia, are very specific concerning those they target. To ensure compatibility many of them are advertised according to RACIAL OR RELIGIOUS AFFILIATIONS. That would have suited Abraham if he had been able to access the internet. Many today would accuse him of being a racist because he did not want his son to marry a Canaanite.

Abraham sent his trusted servant out to find a perfect match for his son Isaac, but he was instructed to go to Abraham’s relatives. He didn’t want a marriage where race or faith in God would be compromised.

Today the servant could have linked into JDate (which is for Jewish singles) while avoiding the local dating sites such as CanaaniteDate.com.

How do you find a person who is COMPATIBLE? Today he could have surveyed Isaac and entered the data online to find the characteristics in a woman he wanted, such as age, gender, what city she was from, height, weight, education, income, sense of humour, her interest in sports, her political persuasion and medical condition. What if she has mental problems or severe disabilities? To go one step further, Abraham’s servant could have linked into a site that used a personality test to ensure compatibility.

It all sounds like a great way to go if you are looking for a marriage partner, but Rebekah takes a huge risk in following this servant of Abraham. She has no idea whether or not she is exposing herself to ruthless predators, only to find herself a victim of fraud or of being stalked or of sexual exploitation and violence. For all she knows she could end up as a victim of human trafficking!

If Rebekah lived today she could have asked for a police check on Abraham’s family. It would have revealed a few cautions against Abraham – abandonment of his son Ishmael and attempted murder of Isaac. God acquitted him as righteous but how would you feel about having a father-in-law like that?

At least two couples I know began their relationship on the internet. Recently Sharyn Cook said “I met my husband on the internet and he is definitely God’s answer to my prayers”.

The question the servant had to ask was “How do I find someone who will be compatible?” He decided to use GOD’S ONLINE HELP, the best and most successful dating site of all, accessed by the same password Sharyn used – “PRAYER”.

So the oldest and most trusted of servants goes to find a girl willing to go with him, leave her family, come to a totally new land called Canaan, marry and live with a man she has never seen before in her life. This is a big ask. No wonder the servant prays in Genesis 24:12 (NLT), “O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today, and show lovingkindness to my master Abraham.” This servant obviously has a RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD although I think he could have included a desire for a bit of lovingkindness for Isaac too. Afterall, he is the one who is going to be affected the most by this prayer. Prayer voice activates his faith and links him directly to GOD’S INTERNET DATING SITE.

God knows what He is doing as he leads the servant to Rebekah. Imagine if Rebekah was so off-line with God that she had not agreed to come. Our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ was to come through the line of Isaac. Her positive response, however, shows that she is a right person for Isaac.

Should this servant give us advice as to finding someone who is compatible for marriage, he would say “Dedicate yourself to the purpose but let that purpose be guided by your prayer.” How different might be the results should this kind of online search be conducted today. Connected to God’s wisdom, our choices make so much more sense and have so much greater impact and fruitfulness. The invitation today is to be connected to God in every arena of our lives, especially in the decision of a life partner in marriage.

Pastor Ross