Closed-Minded or Open-Minded?

Open-Minded-Closed-Minded

Christians are often accused of being closed-minded. That is, they won’t budge on certain moral issues. However, the only reason why they are closed-minded is because their minds have been opened. When Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection, we read that Jesus “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45).

It is understandable, then, why Christians come across as closed-minded: they hold to the unchangeable truths of Scripture. The Scriptures speak clearly about the sanctity of life and the sovereignty of God and the sacrifice of Jesus and sexual purity. On these items, their minds have been made up. But the reason why they think this way is because their minds have been opened to the Scriptures.

So, are Christians closed-minded or open-minded?

Joy Turned to Sorrow

AngenetteMarieWelk

I read this morning of the tragic story of Angenette Marie Welk. On May 10 2018, she was drinking and driving. Around noon, she failed to brake in time to avoid hitting the stopped Hyundai Elantra in front of her. The driver of the vehicle survived the crash, but the mother of the driver, 60 year-old Sandra Clarkson, suffered critical injuries and died four days later in the hospital.

After the crash, the police arrested Welk and charged her with DUI, as her blood alcohol level was 0.172%, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08%. In her mugshot that afternoon, she projected a large smile on her face. The mugshot went viral as she appeared to show little remorse for what happened.

Welk isn’t smiling any more. On May 16, 2019, she entered the courtroom with a very different demeanor. She sobbed in sorrow as she addressed the family of the woman she killed in the crash. She said, “I am so sorry. Your mother is woven within my DNA. I think of her every single day. I dream about her every single night. And I am truly, truly sorry. If I could change spots with your mother, I would in a heartbeat.” Soon afterwards, she was sentenced to 11 years in prison and 15 years of probation. Further, she must write a letter every year in May to document what she has learned from the crash.

It’s a very sad story. I couldn’t help but to think of joy turned to sorrow. The pictures above tell it all.

The pictures of Welk will be the pictures of many for eternity. Jesus spoke about how this happened in the days of Noah. “They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:27). Jesus gives the picture of a joyful people, enjoying the pleasures of life. Smiles all around. But this changed in a moment when the flood came. The joy in those days was quickly turned to sorrow.

And Jesus warns that such will happen again. He said, “Just as in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man” (Luke 17:26). There are many today who are eating and drinking and enjoying themselves. But there will be a day when it all changes. No longer will there be joy, but sorrow. It will change on the day when Christ returns.

The good news is that we can avoid the sorrows of the day by trusting in Christ, giving our lives to him. Jesus promised, “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it” (Luke 17:33).

Prodigal

One of the most famous parables that Jesus ever told was the story of the prodigal son.  It’s the story of a son who demanded his share of his father’s inheritance. The son then goes off to a distant country and squanders all of his wealth with loose living. Only when he reaches his lowest does he consider returning home. In the surprise of the story, his father not only receives him back home, but celebrates the return of his son who was lost and was now found. Many sinful men and women have found great comfort in this story, knowing that God is like the father, who will receive repentant sinners (Luke 15:11-32).

This story is often called, “The Prodigal Son” and rightly so.  Prodigal describes the one who recklessly spends money extravagantly.  This is certainly true of the son who left with half of his father’s estate. However, in many ways, this story could easily be called, “The Prodigal God.” The father of the story is wasteful with his mercy. He freely gives half of his estate to his wayward son. It was no surprise that he wasted all of the wealth. Yet, the father freely gave. And when the son returned, the father didn’t demand any sort of payment or restitution. Instead, he lavished his grace and mercy upon his son.

This is a great picture of our God. He is “wasteful” in His mercy. He extends it to undeserving people, like you an me. Praise the Lord for our prodigal God.

Your Speed

I recently heard someone tell of their observations of life. They observed that life appears to go by as quickly as your age. For instance, when you are 10 years old, you seem to be travelling through life at 10 miles an hour. But, when you are 45 years old, life seems to be going by at 45 miles an hour.  When one reaches the 70’s, surely they are over the speed limit. This observation has certainly been true of my experience in life.  Each year seems to be going by faster and faster.

It gets me thinking about my end. How soon it is coming? With each passing day, it draws closer and closer.

Jesus told a parable about the man whose life came to a quick end. He had thought that life consisted of his possessions. He built barns and bigger barns to store his grain. Then, he planned to take his ease by eating, drinking and merry making in his retirement.  Little did he know that his end came before he could enjoy his wealth.  God said to him, “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?” Jesus then comments, “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:13-21).

As you travel through this life faster and faster, are your storing up treasure for yourself?  Or, are you becoming rich toward God?

Relentless

If one thing characterizes my four-year old son, it is his relentlessness. When he wants something, he will pursue it until he gets it. When he wants to play a game, he will ask and ask and ask to play. When he wants to show you something, he will get you and bring you to see what it is that has captured his attention. When he says something and isn’t heard, he will say it again and again. He will even grab your face and point it toward his own so that you will listen to what he says.

We have much to learn from our relentless son, because God commends those who are relentless in their pursuit of Him. Jesus told the parable of a widow who continually came to the judge, seeking legal protection. Finally, the judge broke down because of her relentlessness (Luke 18:1-8). Jesus told another parable of the friend who knocks on the door and pleads with his friend to help him. When the friend first refused, he continued to ask with persistence. Finally, the friend gave in and helped him (Luke 11:5-8).

Our God is a good God who will give us good things, if we but ask. Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Luke 11:8).

Are you relentless in “following hard” after God? (Psalm 63:8, KJV).

Remorse or Repentance?

This past Wednesday, the former governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, was sentenced to 14 years in jail for the 18 criminal counts against him, including the attempt to sell the senate seat vacated by President Obama. That makes four of the last nine governors of Illinois to spend time in prison for crimes. It doesn’t bode too well for Illinois.

What got my attention in the Blagojevich case is his sudden turn of heart the morning before the sentencing. After maintaining his innocence for years, he finally faced up to his guilt, issuing his first-ever apology. He told the judge that he was “unbelievably sorry” for his “terrible mistakes.”

These words sound like repentance. But, because of their timing, they seem to demonstrate only his remorse at the punishment about to be handed down. Perhaps he was seeking a bit of mercy.  How different it may have been if Blagojevich would have spoken these words three years ago!

I do not simply want to point the finger at Blagojevich. I want to use his example to press into our lives. Are you sorrowful for your sin long before anyone finds out about it? Or, is your sorrow manifest only when the consequences of your sin begin to hurt you? God calls us to repent from our sin, rather than merely fealing remorseful over the effects of our sin. The good news is that God will forgive all who repent from their sin (see Luke 24:47).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Responding with Grace

When others sin against us, it’s often easy to sin in response. It’s only natural. We want to defend ourselves and hurt those who have hurt us. There are several examples of those in the Scriptures who have responded differently. Their example is powerful. May these examples encourage our hearts to respond with grace toward others as well.

Jesus, while nailed to the cross (think great pain and agony), cries out, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:324). Stephen, while being pelted with rocks which brought about his death, cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” (Acts 7:60). Paul, having been deserted by all of his friends in Asia during his greatest hour of need, writes, “May it not be counted against them” (2 Timothy 4:16).