IN AN AGE OF UNCERTAINTY, people seek a firm foundation, something solid. For example, we all know people with financial or job problems, or quite possibly we've experienced them ourselves. What does our Savior have to say about such matters? "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear...Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the Kingdom [of God], and His righteousness, and all other things will be given to you as well." (Mt. 6:25,32-33).
Some may think this conflicts with Jesus' saying: "the poor you will always have with you..." (Mt. 26:11), but does it? As we learn more about His Kingdom and Ways, we will find out.
God's Word tells us that "...man is unstable in all his ways." because we can be "of two minds" (Jas. 1:8). Sometimes we secretly or openly question what God has revealed to man. For instance, Scripture says we are "blessed" by "children" who "are a gift from the Lord...a reward." (Ps. 128:4; 127:3-5; cf. 115:14; 144:12; Prov. 17:6). But today, people with economic problems, time pressures or other concerns, think that 'God didn't have this age' or 'us specifically' in mind when it comes to having more children. Man's reasoning may be: isn't there global over-population as it is? Certainly, the popular media would lead us to think so, as do many politicians, bureaucrats and 'think tank' officials. Yet God says: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding." (Prov. 3:5). We can trust God! Let's consider some facts, to shed more light on these Biblical verses.
If every man, woman and child world-wide packed up, and moved to Texas, each one could have over 1300 square feet there; and the rest of the earth could be abandoned! Is that overpopulation?' We hear about food shortages and hunger; yet we forget reports about advances in agriculture, the ability to harvest the oceans, hydroponic gardening and many other existing and proven ways for feeding the world's people. News about 'over-population' are about as accurate as the dire warnings years ago about the 'vanishing supply of oil,' during engineered 'oil shortages.' In fact, we have more reported oil reserves today than we had 20 years ago, and plenty of food. God hasn't failed to provide! It has been man's failures: lack of solidarity, poor distribution, greed and other human factors that are plaguing mankind.
SIN AND MAN's negligence to truly heed the Gospel are reasons for
the world's ills are why 'the poor will always be with you.' Some
choose voluntary poverty, others lack the will, opportunity or capacity to avoid it. By honoring the great commandments: 'Love God, Love Your Neighbor' (cf. Mt. 22:37-40), we'd increasingly transform our world into a plentiful 'land of milk and honey' God promised. "I came that they might have life, and have it more abundantly!" (Jn. 10:10); "...on earth as...in heaven" (Mt. 6:10)! Repeatedly, Jesus tells us: "Whoever has ears to hear ought to listen!" (Mk. 4:9), and "Repent! For the Kingdom of God is at hand!" (Mt.4:17). Often Jesus' teachings, have multiple meanings. Here He's referring to heaven, His Church on earth, and to our earthly life: "Behold, the Kingdom of God is among you." (Lk. 17:21). So worldly tribulations only mirror the effects of sin in our lives.
"THE WAGES OF SIN is death..." (Rom. 6:23) isn't referring to only physical or spiritual death. It describes the real effects of every sin. For example, when the Commandment says: "Thou shall not steal." (Ex. 20: 15), think about the results of defrauding or stealing from someone. First, the wronged person suffered the loss of his property (a kind of death); he also suffers a loss of trust in others, and a sense of security as well.
The thief also suffers, since not only is his soul seared by the
sin (spiritual death), but so too his conscience is disturbed (dying of self-respect, inner peace). A similar analogy or comparison holds true for any sin.
Today many ignore God's will regarding sexual matters. Yet we see the ravages of sexual diseases, including AIDS (the dying of the body, cf. Rom. 1:27; Gal. 6:7-8; Col. 3:25). Unstable personal and sexual unions (God's will is for stable marital/family relationships), cause harm to those jilted or left (dying of trust, self-respect) and to the one leaving. The Commandments, properly understood, aren't 'negative,' they are positive, intended to save us from the harmful affects of sin in our lives and in the world. There isn't a single sin man dreams up that doesn't result in a kind of 'death' in peoples' lives.
So Paul was inspired to write: "Brothers, if a person is caught in some sin, you who are spiritual should correct them in a gentle spirit, while carefully avoiding sin yourself. Bear one another's burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ." (Gal. 6:1-2).
Mutual solidarity, 'edifying' and uplifting one another are the Gospel ways to achieve the Kingdom, on earth, and in heaven!
"DELIGHT YOURSELF in the Lord, and He will give you your heart's desires." (Ps. 34:4), isn't part of a false gospel some preach 'of health, wealth and prosperity.' God says: "I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants (literally: 'seed') might live..." (Dt. 30:19). Every choice, good or evil, creates life or causes 'death!' The Divine Word said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life." (Jn. 14:6), also said, "Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. Whoever wishes to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for My sake and the sake of the Gospel will find it." (Mk. 8:34-35).
If we "have the mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:16) confusing or seemingly contradictory Scriptures come into focus. 'It is in giving that we receive, in pardoning that we are pardoned, and by dying (to self) that we are born to eternal life.', as saintly Francis of Assisi's prayer stated. God promises "My word...will not return to Me void..." (Is. 55:11), that is without effect. "God's word is living and effective..."
(Heb. 4:12). So by heeding the Gospel, we are twice blessed; on earth and in heaven. Consider the 'price of sin': trillions of dollars fighting crime, wars, etc. A truly faithful world could use those funds for housing, transportation, food and more! THAT is the 'GOOD NEWS', if we LISTEN. Starting out in FAITH is required, since faith the size of a mustard seed grows, bearing much fruit (cf. Mt. 13:31-33; 7:16-20; 17:20).
PERSECUTING THE GOSPEL ('Good News'): Paul ('Saul') confessed he sincerely, but misguidedly, attacked the Church: "I persecuted this Way to death, binding men and women and delivering them to prison...On that journey (to arrest Christian followers of ''the Way'') ...about noon a great light shone around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me: 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?' I replied, 'Who are you, sir?' And He said to me, 'I Am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting." (Acts 22:4,6-8; cf. Acts 9:1-9). Paul persecuted the Church, yet Jesus identifies Himself with the Church; as Jesus did before: "He who listens to you (the apostles, the church), listens to Me. He who rejects you, rejects Me. And he who rejects Me, rejects Him who sent Me." (Lk.10:16; cf. Mt.10:28).
Those deliberately teaching a false Gospel will be punished (cf. Gal. 1:9; Mt. 23:16, 33!; 2 Tim.4:3-4, etc.). Though Paul (Saul) in Acts was acting sincerely in attacking the True Church, we read Jesus' saying: "I will show him what he will have to suffer for My Name." (Acts 9:16). At " judgement..By your words you'll be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." (Mt. 12:36, 37).
IT ISN'T GOOD enough to know the truth, and not share it: "But now I know that none of you to whom I preached the Kingdom during my travels will ever see my face again. So I solemnly declare to you this day that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you, for I did not shrink from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God." (Acts 20:25-27).
Paul said this farewell message to the priests from the Ephesian
Church, along with the warning: "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them. So be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day, I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears. And now I commend you to God and to that gracious word of His that can build you up and give you the inheritance among all who are consecrated." (Acts 20:29-32).
Briefly, note the warning against the wolves (false preachers, cf. Mt. 24:11-14); and that even some of 'presbyters' would wrongly try to lead people astray. It isn't an individual presbyter (priest) that Jesus promised us would 'guide us into all truth' (Jn. 16; 13), but the Church itself; which is Christ Himself!
How could Christ, "the Way and the Truth and the Light." teach us falsely? That would be absurd! So how can anyone who believes in His Word question "the Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the Truth." (1 Tim. 3:15)? We should humbly seek the Truth of Jesus' enduring Church (cf. Mt. 16:18); heeding the authentic voice Jesus said could settle our earthly controversies (cf. Mt. 18:17-18). By doing so, we will be listening to Him!
The Church is: 'the Bride of Christ' (cf. Eph. 5:23-32; Mt. 22:1-14; 25:1-13), 'the Body of Christ' (cf. Eph. 1:22-23), and 'His Kingdom' on earth (cf. Lk. 17:21). In Revelation: "The Spirit and the Bride say: "Come!"...Let the one who thirsts come forward, and the one who wants it receive the gift of life-giving water (i.e.: baptism; cf. Jn. 3:5)." (Rev. 22:17). John gives us a glimpse of those condemned to hell: "But as for cowards, the unfaithful, the depraved, murderers, the unchaste, the sorcerers, idol-worshipers, and deceivers of every sort, their lot is the burning pool of fire and sulfur, which is the second death." (Rev. 21:8). But the wonders of heaven are described as eternal splendor and beauty, joy without sorrow.
Seek first His Kingdom and "COME!"