IT’S A NOVEL WITH A MESSAGE: OUR UNITY IS IN CHRIST; NOT THE BALLOT BOX.
Issy and I have worked for a lot of candidates in the past, but we have found that the heightened security on a Presidential campaign is both fascinating and a pain.
The flying part is great; we avoid airport waits by flying directly into the nearest Air Force Base. Last week I was on the campaign trail with my boss, our Chief of Staff, local Congressmen and Senators when we flew into Warner Robins Air Force Base.
We had an event in the Macon area, so I tried to meet with a couple of my new Macon area friends, Dr. Dale Riley, whom Issy and I have named, ‘The Prayer-Guy,’ and Clyde Smith who is the liaison for a very influential female preacher, who I hope to meet one day soon.
But security. The moment I wanted to leave our group after our event, I was followed by two new suits whom, I was told, were just there for my safety.
But it didn’t feel right. It still doesn’t.
Issy brought us some coffee and we opened our Harmony devotional.
I tasted the coffee and made a face. “There’s no sugar, baby.”
“What did Dr. Joseph tell you this week after your annual cardio appointment?”
I ignored her and started to read because he said I needed to lose the extra twenty pounds I was carrying.
She wasn’t done though. “And your sodium intake, that needs to be reduced, too.”
I rolled my eyes.
“Don’t you roll your eyes at me, honey-bun. I just threw away the Morton Salt ‘Umbrella Girl.’
“Baby, we ought to hold onto it, just because it is such a classic.”
“Nice try, buster, but no more salt.”
I just started reading. “When Jesus spoke again to the people. . .”[i]
November A.D. 29, Hostile Religious Leaders
Lately, my mind is often scrambled with the accusations levied at Jesus and His answers which usually have a ring of truth in them. I’ll admit, I do marvel at how He handles them; whether His answers are true or not, or wise or not, is another story.
This constant argument with the Pharisees and religious leaders is a case in point. Jesus is at the temple, telling the people who He is, when the Pharisees challenge Him.
In all honesty, I think they are so jealous of Jesus’ success that they are making up arguments and parsing every single word to get Him off His game, in hopes the people will stop listening to Him.
A couple of the Pharisees, teachers of the law, interrupted Jesus with a challenge. Basically they were saying that since Jesus was telling about Himself, His testimony could not be trusted,[ii] as it was circular reasoning.
If I were Jesus, I would have said, “A person tells a lot more about himself than he realizes when he accuses others, like you do when you accuse me.” But of course, Jesus was more patient than me.
Later I stood back and watched this “dance,” of the Temple Guard and the Pharisees whispering. Clearly, the Pharisees wanted Jesus stopped but He was not seized, almost as if His time had not yet come.[iii]
And then the Pharisees said something that really outraged me. When Jesus said, ‘Where I’m going you cannot come,’[iv] they wondered, out loud, if Jesus was going to commit suicide.[v] And while Jesus remained patient, I wanted to yell and scream about how no honorable Jew ever commits suicide.
The more I thought about it, the angrier I got. Accusing Jesus of contemplating suicide was the lowest.
I myself have had a number of unflattering things to say about Him, but that He would commit suicide? That was a new low to which even I would never stoop.
And then, just when I think Jesus is being courageous, and intelligent, making wise arguments, He said something which was just foolish. He told the Pharisees they would die in their sins.[vi]
I couldn’t believe my ears. I started to walk away because now I was embarrassed of this so-called Rabbi of mine.
But then I noticed something very odd; even as He spoke, the people were putting their faith in Him.[vii] It was amazing, this power He has over the crowds.
“Oh, Jesus,” I thought to myself, “Don’t You realize the power You hold?”
And then He said a few things in succession which made me nearly run away. He accused the Pharisees of wanting to kill Him.[viii] I was seriously wondering if He were getting delusional.
Next, He told them they were like their father the devil.[ix] And if that weren’t enough, He said He didn’t plan to be a liar like them.[x] He spoke so self-righteously, I thought.
Surely we were done. But no; He said something which made me angrier with Him.
Jesus had the temerity to say, of Himself, that He is the I Am.[xi] Well, as you can imagine, these already frustrated Pharisees, who had been blocked with every accusation by the defense Jesus made, picked up stones to stone Him! But somehow Jesus hid and slipped away from the temple grounds.[xii]
Sunday, May 13th, Arlington VA
Issy and I lay resting in bed. And then looking at the clock I disentangled myself from the sheets and said, “We need to go through this while we have time, baby.”
She rubbed her eyes. She was still tired, but sat up, fluffed her pillows and said, “Okay, I’m ready. Where’s our coffee?”
“Coming right up,” I said and then went to the kitchen where the coffee maker was right on time, as usual.
When I climbed back in bed, she was already in her copy of our Harmony Devo.
“You sure spoil me, Darling. Thank you,” she said to me.
It’s the little things like that which make me want to serve her as often as I can. She was still talking so I needed to focus on the Word, rather than myself, and her, and me, and us. . .
She said, “Jesus was a master at dealing with lying accusations with truth. He always knew how to handle people, whether they spoke truths or lies.”
She looked at me and then added, “Why do you think that was, Jude?”
“Babe, I think there was one reason and He tells us in this passage. I think He says it a few times. Look at John, chapter eight at the end of verse twenty-six, Jesus says, ‘What I have heard from Him, meaning His Father, I tell the world.’ Which tells you and me we need to be prayed up, read up, and in as close a relationship with the Lord, as we can be, Baby, especially as our respective bosses rely upon us.”
I then added, “That is my not-so-surprising challenge.”
“That was one of mine too, Jude, but I got it from the sixteenth verse, where Jesus talks of His standing with the Father.”
“Look,” Issy continued, “Look at verses twenty-three and twenty-four where Jesus gave me today’s ‘unusual promise,’ which really is a negative promise. It says so clearly there are consequences which will impact time and eternity, namely, dying in one’s sins.”
She then looked over at me, with all seriousness. “Baby, we each have colleagues who will not spend eternity with us, if they died today. And I for one have not been the witness I could be.”
“I have just one more thought, Jude. What if Harold is right?”
“Where’d that come from, Issy?” I asked.
“Look at verse thirty-two, it says, ‘You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ Baby, maybe Harold is right and one of us is deadly wrong, in our politics. This verse says that if we know the truth, then the truth would make us free. Doesn’t that imply that one of us is right, having the truth, and the other is wrong?”
This conversation creeps up every few years between us and I try to handle it the same way each time.
I said, “Baby, I think the Word is clear. First, it says, whatever we do, we are to do with excellence and do it as if we were doing it unto the Lord, rather than man.[xiii] Second, you and I both know we can be and are ‘a light shining on a hill[xiv]’ in our offices where people are unsaved. Third, God has given us a passion and fervency for what we do and until we hear from Him, we need to keep on doing it fervently. Finally, God is not a god of confusion; rather, He is a God of peace,[xv] and as long as I have peace about what I am doing, I’m going to keep doing it. Just as you should, too. Keep working for your loser candidate, as long as you have peace, baby.”
After she hit me and we lovingly tussled for a few minutes she asked, seriously, “I also marked verse forty-four, Jude. Look at the reference to ‘your father the devil.’ Is it possible one of us is working for the devil?”
I could tell it was an honest question, so I didn’t joke. I just reminded her God called wicked Nebuchadnezzar, his servant, more than once.[xvi] “In fact, even Daniel tells us the same thing Romans 13:1-2 tells us, that God gave the leader his greatness, glory and splendor.[xvii] And lest we forget, baby, wicked Cyrus was called God’s anointed.[xviii] I am convinced, Issy, God has us where He wants us and He is working out all things for the better.”[xix]
I paused and looked tenderly at her and said, “If there is any fault you have, Issy, it’s that you want to always figure out the ‘whys’ behind what God is doing. But baby, ‘Why’ belongs to Him. It always does. Once in a while He shares with us the ‘why,’ but more times than not, He holds it close to the vest.”
“There is a last promise; truly an unusual promise I need to remember, Issy, and it comes from the forty-fifth verse. Jesus makes clear that just because we share the truth, it does not mean we will be believed. Especially if the one we share the truth with is an unbeliever.”
“That is really something to remember,” she said.
“Right,” I responded.
We needed to get ready for church.
[i] John 8:12
[ii] John 8:13
[iii] John 8:20
[iv] John 8:21
[v] John 8:22
[vi] John 8:24
[vii] John 8:30
[viii] John 8:37
[ix] John 8:44a
[x] John 8:55m
[xi] John 8:58
[xii] John 8:59
[xiii] Colossians 3:23
[xiv] Matthew 5:14
[xv] 1 Corinthians 14:33
[xvi] Jeremiah 27:6; 43:10
[xvii] Daniel 5:18
[xviii] Isaiah 45:1
[xix] Romans 8:28