When the Cat's Away

My wife and I were blessed with our seventh grandchild last week. Daisy Joy was born in Raleigh and is a beautiful, healthy child and she and her mother are coming along just fine. With the arrival of the grand event, my wife left to help them out, which left me “batching” it for the last few days.

The question is: What shape will she find our house in when she returns? Dirty dishes piled to the ceiling? The cat dying of starvation? The TV on and blasting because I was too lazy to shut it off? Of course, you know I wouldn’t be writing about it, if I had done those things.

The Apostle Paul was also in a quandary, like most missionaries, in wondering how he was going to find the Corinthian congregation on his next visit. Evidently, he didn’t have much hope. He was considering that he might even be mourning over their possible sins of “contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults, uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness” (2 Cor. 12:20-21 NKJV). Woe. Say it ain’t so, Paul!

There lies the problem: How will we behave when we think no one is watching? Obviously, not good. Most crimes are still committed in the dark. Even people who call themselves Christians suffer from this. They know that God sees everything (Proverbs 15:3), yet the enticement of sin frequently is too strong to stop them from giving in to temptation. We wonder how that can possibly be.

Jesus gives us the answer. He asks, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8b). Really finding faith! What do criminals do before they act? They look to see if anyone is watching. What are Christians saying if they choose to sin? Either they don’t really believe that God can see, or they don’t believe He will punish them, or they think His grace will cover their intentional sins. Read Romans 6 to see the truth about that.

What are we to do? It all comes down to what we hope to find when we’re struggling – not grace that enables sin, but “let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Jesus will help us “hold fast our confession” (4:14). Will He find you faithful?



Waddling to Church

Years ago, there were three mallard ducks gathered in front of a church building on a street where I walked. The next day the mallards were there again and this continued for the next several days. There they were, huddled by the front door, with no evidence of why they would be there. There was no residue from kernels of corn or a nice pond on the premises to paddle around in. Finally, I saw the minister and inquired about the ducks. He said he had no idea why they were there. No one had fed or watered them. After a couple more days they were gone, never to be seen again.


What makes an animal choose its place of abode? Basically, if an area provides the food, water and shelter that satisfies the specific needs of a given creature, then they'll hang around. There may have been something that interested these ducks in city life, but it wasn't long till they went in search of something more habitable.


It is fascinating to notice Jesus pointing out all three of these ingredients from a religious perspective in the book of John. He said in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” He elaborates on the water quality He provides by saying, “But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” [4:14]. And what about shelter? Jesus also addresses that basic need we have in stating, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” [14:23].


Did you know when it comes to choosing a church, we're a lot like ducks? We're looking for spiritual food, water and shelter. The question is, how long will it take us to figure out whether a given religious group is providing what we need. Jesus emphasized the necessity of believing in Him to receive these blessings. Yet how many religious leaders do not believe that Jesus actually fed 5000 with a few loaves and fish, let alone believing he arose from the dead? Jesus stressed loving obedience to receive the eternal shelter of the Father. Yet how many groups who call themselves Christians have a convention and vote to circumvent the very instructions given in God's word?


We are called the church of Christ because we strive to be that religious institution that provides the true food, water and shelter from Christ that lasts for eternity. If Jesus said it, that's good enough for us. We have no desire to add to, or take away from, God's will for us [Revelation 22:18,19; Galatians 1:8]. We use these blessings provided by God to “grow up in all things into Him” [Ephesians 4:15].


So now we find ourselves waddling through life. Quality food, water and shelter is always a concern for us and our families. And when those necessities last for eternity, we know we've made the right choice. You're smarter than a duck. Choose wisely, dear friend. The souls of you and your family depend on it.


Jeff Greene