Today’s scripture reminds me of the time when I was at my uncle’s funeral. It was a catholic funeral, and we were instructed that if we could take communion if we were catholic, but if we were not that we should cross our arms and receive a blessing. This deeply disturbed me because nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jesus instructed us to discriminate who could receive communion. That’s about as ridiculous as discriminating that someone cannot be baptized because they are not catholic. And where do we draw the line? If there were a priest there who was not catholic, would they too not be able to receive communion and cross their arms for a blessing? Did Jesus say, only those who are catholic here can take this communion with me?
No he didn’t exclude anyone who sought him. In fact, Jesus says he came so that ALL might be saved. John 1:7 says, “He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him ALL might believe.” John 3:16 says, “For God so loved THE WORLD”, not just one denomination, not just Jews, or Gentiles, or Catholics, or Lutherans, or Baptists, but ALL who believe in Him. All are welcome to come to the Lord!
Image courtesy of: chrisinplymouth
Back to the funeral… so the priest gives these instructions about non-Catholics not being able to receive communion and I remember thinking how incredibly wrong this practice was. And I remember thinking about my love for and commitment to the Lord and how I certainly had sought the Lord more earnestly and read and studied the Word of God more than 99% of everyone at that funeral outside of perhaps the elderly priest. Yeah there was some hubris kicking in. But thank God I recognized it when the Spirit of God revealed to me the principle of today’s scripture.
“Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:12,13
The Holy Spirit put it in my heart to honor the wishes of this priest who had devoted his life to serving the Lord. And I felt this great love and respect for the priest, even though I strongly disagree with many of the rules of their denomination. So the moment of truth comes and we are invited to go to the altar to receive communion or a blessing. And as I walked up to the priest, I crossed my arms and received my blessing to honor the man who dedicated his life to serving the Lord. Further, I thanked him for his service to the Lord when I spoke with him as we exited the church.
The way I see it, and what the Word of God says, is this. If someone is so committed to the Lord that they become a priest and make it their life’s work, then we should honor them as it says in this scripture. We should acknowledge their work and hold them in high regard. That love and respect is exactly what I felt for the priest that day. And as I mature in age, and grow in faith and wisdom, I become more and more appreciative of all of the ministers, pastors, missionaries, and all those who fully commit their lives to serving the Lord in full-time ministry. And I am deeply grateful for the years of sermons that have had a huge impact on my walk with the Lord.
And so as today’s scripture says, we are to honor them, hold them in high regard, and pay them respect. We may not always agree with the rules and practices of their religion, or even everything they say or do. But to those who dedicate their lives to serving the Lord we are to hold them in “the highest regard in love because of their work”. And unlike the pharisees who honored the Lord with their lips but whose hearts were far from them, we are to honor them in our hearts. Not every person of the cloth is going to be preaching a message that is meant for us. But that doesn’t mean their message is wrong. It just means that it is wrong for us. Their message is exactly what is needed for another person and for that moment to draw their heart to the Lord. Our job is to bring others to know Christ, and God uses many different people and many different methods to leave the 99 and find the 1 lost sheep. Let us not be so judgmental, and more understanding and appreciative of those who make it their life’s work.
I love it when the Spirit speaks to you about how to act, or handle a situation, and then you obey, and then over a year later you read a scripture and you can see in the Word exactly what God spoke to you that day. Thank God for allowing us to hear his voice. God speaks to us and works in our lives all the time, if we can get out of our own way. We can hear him if we empty ourselves of us, our egos, our opinions, our correctness, and humble ourselves before the Lord.
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for your Word today. We thank you now for a wonderful and productive day to come. Thank you for protecting us and working on us so that we can better serve you and walk through this world in a way that pleases you. Help us to love and honor those dedicated to serving you – not only priests and pastors, but everyone deeply committed to following and serving you. Help us to empty us of ourselves, and fill us with more of you. Refresh and renew us continually, in body and in spirit, for your honor and glory, in Jesus mighty name. Amen.
Today’s full reading: 1 Kings 1; Chronicles 28; Psalm 91; 1 Thessalonians 5
Scripture References From Today’s Reflection:
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
- “He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him ALL might believe.” – John 1:7
- “What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.” – Matthew 18:12-14
- “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” – James 4:10
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