First, Let Us Define a Christian.

The name Christian means one who rejoices in the gospel of the covenant of redemption. Such a one accepts, trusts, and believes in the claims of Jesus of Naz-areth as the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior of humanity, the mentor to all those who believe in Him, the advocate with the Father, and the coming King of kings and Lord of lords.

What Jesus Did.

Jesus of Nazareth announced His identity and mission in His hometown on the Sabbath day in the local synagogue. Luke records the announcement as follows: “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:16-2l).

Christ’s public ministry began with His sermon on the mount. He opened with the Beatitudes, which are, in reality, a statement of His character, and secondarily the characteristics of those who have accepted Christ as their personal Savior. The lifestyle of the forgiven is to give in the same abundance as they have been given! In His sermon Jesus went on to explain the full meaning and intent of the law. His law governs a person’s thoughts, laying waste to the hypocrisy of self-righteousness. Christ continued by outlining a lifestyle of humility, charity, and forgiveness —a morality that exceeds the conventional understanding of the law. He closed with a parable that highlights the assurance given to those who accept His righteousness and build their lives on the rock of His acceptance, the perfection of His life, and the completeness of His redemption. Such are eternally safe through the

storms of life.

In His three-year ministry He never deviated from His announcement in Nazareth or His sermon on the mount. In deed and in parable He reiterated, reinforced, and demonstrated a wholistic morality—the one whole Man. The Second Adam demonstrated that He is devoid of conflicting loyalties, false concepts, vanity, doubt, alienation, hate, and ruling passions, and is willing to share without selfishness. He kept the Ten Commandments in spirit and in truth—a feat no other human being has, will, or can accomplish.

Jesus made a continuing point of forgiveness and the lifestyle of the forgiven, as in His conversation with Simon at Simon’s feast in honor of Jesus, at which Simon had silently criticized Mary.

“And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said I suppose that he, to who he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged” (Luke 7:40-43).

Jesus did the same in His parable of the two debtors.

“Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. Andwhen he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasrnuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, 0 thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowseverant, even as I had pity on thee?” (Matthew 18:23-33).

Jesus used the same logic in His description of the day of judgment.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, hut the righteous to eternal life” (Matthew 25:31-46.)

That is why the Lord’s Prayer is so wonderful yet awesome.

Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” is an awesome prayer given to us by the One who gave Moses the Ten Commandments. Could it be that Christian living encompasses more than a list of 10 do’s and don’ts? How can we pray “Our Father which art in heaven” without accepting one another as kin? The Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man is more than a political cliché. It is the fundamental basis of our relationship to one another and to our Creator Redeemer God. The Sermon on the Mount of Blessing is the moral blueprint that Christ says He will use on the day of judgment (Matthew 25:31-46). Wholistic morality demands charitable stewardship of all of God’s creation. Wholistic morality is the lifestyle of the forgiven: to feed the hungry, to give water to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to heal the sick, to comfort those who mourn,  to visit those in prison.

How can we cry for mercy yet demand justice without compassion upon others?

Even William Shakespeare caught that vision in his play the Merchant of Venice. The play is not anti-Semitic; it is anti self-righteousness, anti-greed, and anti-vindictiveness! The sum of which is distilled in Portia’s preamble to her charge to Shy-lock: The quality of mercy is not strain’d It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath: It isz twice bless’d; His scepter shows the force of temporal power, The attribute to awe and majesty, Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings; ;But mercy is above this sceptered sway, It is enthroned in the hearts of kings, It is an attribute to God himself, And earthly power doth then show likest God’s When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew, Though justice be thy plea, consider this, That in the course of justice none of us Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy, And that same prayer doth teach us all to render Love for the Redeemer can be demonstrated only by charity toward one’s neighbor and stewardship of “all creatures great and small.” Our stewardship of His world is the only proper gift we can bring to the King of kings and Lord of lords.

The inscription on the Statue of Liberty embodies the 2 Christian heritage of the United States of America far better than does posting the Ten Commandments on school bulletin boards or on courthouse marquees.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

For these words echo the invitation of Jesus: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

Those who take the name Christian and show not mercy and compassion have taken the name of God in vain! Moral decline is a consequence of selfishness—a self-centered worldview.

Therefore, moral decline is not primarily the result of a lack of the Ten Commandments or a lack of assigned public prayer in the classroom. Moral decline results from the lack of a coherent family circle. There is no family table or meal. There is no table talk. The tube is no moral substitute.

If there were enough coherence in the family to teach the four cardinal virtues of Socrates/Plato/Thomas Aquinas—wisdom, temperance, courage, and justice—we would be miles ahead of where we are now. Certainly, there are no constitutional restrictions against wisdom, temperance, courage, justice, and mercy.

“He hath shewed thee, 0 man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8).

The American family is cursed with an abundance of TVs, Internet access, fast foods, latchkey kids. The sin of the century is abundance-created selfishness! So,

Teach us to forgive and to share!


                                                                        LIBERTY Magazine

Jan./Feb. 2006. (Pg. 11 - 13)


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