From time to time, I have read a book, titled 'Shining Personality.' I bought this book because of the title of the book. The title would reflect my desire and hope to be a person with a 'shining personality'. This book is mainly about ‘etiquettes'. As an example, I read the section titled 'I should go now'. The subtitle is 'Do not abuse the kindness of the other party'. The hidden cost of favors can be emotions, physical energy, or time. The way to show respect for a person who sacrifices himself/herself is not to abuse the suggestion nor to cross the proper boundaries.
A pastor had visited a sister of the church. They had a pleasant conversation. The young pastor who was not in urgent played his role sincerely, and she seemed to want to be with him. But she said, 'Could you pray for me? And would you leave me soon? I'm so tired that I cannot say more."
The pastor said that he appreciated her and was thankful for telling her opinion honestly. He found that she showed her respect though she was tired. He should keep the boundaries in relationship. “I have to leave now”, which means that I don’t want to abuse the love or kindness of my friend.
As I read the book, various thoughts crossed in my mind. I took look back whether I abuse the kindness of my friends or I would cross over certain boundaries in relationship. I would have been like this. It would be not easy to have a shining personality although we should try to be.
God is love. I believe that you may hear this phrase dozens of times in church. The word, “love” is the showing that ‘who God is”. Interestingly, every person accepts the word of 'love' differently. Whether you are an adult or a child, you understand and express love in your own style. As in the book “The Language of Love”, a person expresses love as a gift, a service, and a praise and so on.
God's love in the Bible is well described in 1 Corinthians 13.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (ver. 4-7).
If you want to know who God is, you can find Him by chaining the word, love, into God or Jesus in the Bible.
God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud. …. God is not rude to us. And God wants us to love each other and God just like Him. I don’t know the time when, but we tend to abuse God’s grace in the modern church. I do not know whether you may hear that people in the church being rude. God does not act rudely, but the believers are very rude. The believers are rude to the people in the world, but also to God. Furthermore, there are many cases of abuse of God's grace.
Of course, this is not limited to the present. The people of Israel were very disrespectful to God. To sum up the contents of the Bible, it is the story of people who are rude to God. For example, if you look at the book of Exodus, God gave grace to the people of Israel: He freed them from slavery, and gave them food to eat day by day. However, the Israelites regarded all these things as natural. And if there was a chance, they betrayed God and served other gods. At the book of Judges, you can find how rude the Israelites did to God. When people have trouble, they asked God to help. However, when they became peaceful, they didn’t ask any favor to God. The people of Israel were so rude. Although God loved them, the people were very rude to God. This is true for the believers living in the modern world.
In the parable of Jesus, you may hear a story that the second son asked his father to give him a portion of his inheritance. And he got his own inheritance and went to a distant country and wasted it. When he run out money and he was hungry, he wanted to eat the pods that pigs are eating. It showed how humiliatingly he lived. Then he thought that he should return to his father. And the father who saw the returning child, ran and greets his second son with open arms. His father didn’t discipline his son, but he did a feast for him. It would be grace and the love of father.
But the next day, if the son boldly said to his father’s love. 'Father, you love me. If you give me the money again, I will not live like before I used to be. " Although he did a very good dinner, his habits have been not changed.
If we know someone like the second son, we would like to express that he is very rude person who ignores father's consideration. Or that he does not know his father's forgiveness nor his father's love. Furthermore, the belief in the father would be wrong.
What happens in the modern church?
"If you believe in Jesus, you will go to heaven. We will go where Heavenly Father is. It is going to where there is God's reign. It is all right, but after experiencing the grace of God, many people are turning back in their old ways. Proverbs expressed this in this way: 'As a dog eats its vomit, so a foolish man repeats his folly (Proverbs 26:11).
It may be a phenomenon that occurs in the modern church because of emphasis on faith, but not the action. 'God is love. God can be saved if he believes, 'but it may be a criticism of the modern church because it abuses God's grace and love or is rude to God.
Peter preached to Cornelius and his family and relatives, and introduced who Jesus Christ is. He emphasized that Jesus is Lord of all. He is an excellent man above all things. And Peter preached that Jesus Christ as the gospel of peace. He also preached that Heavenly Father had anointed the Holy Spirit and power to Jesus of Nazareth, and that he had been around and doing good. Jesus healed all who were pressed against the devil. Because Heavenly Father was with us. Peter also testified of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And he said that he was a witness to this.
And v. 42 is a summary.
'He commanded us to preach to the people” We need to pay attention what God asks for the disciples of Jesus to preach. “He is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead”
What did God tell them to evangelize? It is to introduce who Jesus is: 'The judge of the living and the dead'. Evangelism is introducing that Jesus Christ judges according to our works, our living.
Peter preached that Jesus will judge us. In the last days, Jesus will judge the living and the dead. Therefore, Peter preached, which was showing that evangelism must be focused on our lives as well as on our words. What is more important than how many people we shared the gospel on this earth is how we lived as a Christian while we were living on this earth, and lived in salt and light. It is a word to prepare for the time when we will stand before the Lord's judgment.
A country where justice flows like a river. The justice of the country is told by the judiciary of the country. The more a country is righteous, the more it will be judged according to the law. Jesus is the judge. The country governed by Jesus is a just country. In this country, we all will not be aware of when, but will stand before God and be judged. It is indeed a terrifying and trembling word. What does the Lord say to me?
A person was seriously hit by a traffic accident. Their body was paralyzed, and the mind went into unconsciousness. He was lying like a dead body. But he finally heard that the doctor came and said that ‘I am sorry that your husband passed away.” He tried hard to move because he wanted to prove that he was live. The man recognized that he might move his finger a little bit. He tried to touch his wife with all his strength to mark his alive since his wife was standing next to his bed. And then his wife hit his hand said, ‘you died’ After all, his body was covered by a white cloth and arrived at the chapel of rest. He tried to touch his wife once more with his finger to appeal his alive. Then she said, "Listen to the doctor." In the meantime, it is said that "You should have done well in order to avoid such a thing".
This story is like a funny story though that it has a message, which you should be good at your usual. If you ask anyone to believe in Jesus, one may ask for you to believe in Jesus. Evangelism is not just speaking, but living.
The gospel that Cornelius lived in fear of God is that Jesus Christ is the judge of the living and the dead. We will also stand before the Lord. It is natural for us to express our respect for the Lord of all. And to Jesus, the Chief Justice, we will seek His grace.
I hope you will look back on your life. Please look at what we believe. Do you believe in God's love? May God's judgment be believed. That is why we must live this land with fear and trembling. That is why we like to do good like Jesus and live this earth like Jesus. When we stand before the Lord, who is the judge of the living and the dead, what can we say? I believe, “Lord, have mercy on us!”