34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” — Mark 3:34 NIV
Our society becomes more and more mobile with each new generation. This has been true from the beginning until now and it doesn’t show any signs of changing. This fact has an upside and a downside. The upside is that God uses these changes to spread the Gospel. Paul went on missionary trips on roads built by the Romans. His travels in one lifetime would have been imposssible a few generation earlier. For years, people debated about whether or not it was possible for every human to hear the Gospel. Now we know that that could be done with one message bradcast on satellite TV. Of course, there are many worldly benefits as well. The downside of all this mobility is the loss of family. We no longer live next door to our parents, siblings or any close relatives. That fact contribues to a lot of loneliness and also the sense of what “family” really means. But, God knew this was coming so He made it possible for us to have family wherever we find ourselves. Each one of us lives in communities where, with a little effort, we could be surrounded by family. Jesus was, at first, rejected by His family. Yet, this did not deter Him from having a family. If you find that your occupation and/or your decisions have taken you a goodly distance from your family, find a Church that believes in the brotherhood (and sisterhood) of Christ. There you will find a new family that can mean just as much or more than your natural family. And, of course, there is always Jesus, a friend who sticks closer than a brother or a sister or a mother or a father.
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. — James 3:17,18 NIV
As we read yesterday, wisdom is defined as more than just getting facts and knowledge of things, places and people, It includes the ability to use that knowledge to make proper decisions that lead to correct actions. We can have knowledge upon knowledge, but it is worthless, perhaps, even dangerous, if it is built on the wrong foundation, a foundation of inerrant knowledge. That is why the Holy Spirit, through the writer of Proverbs, tells us
7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. – Prov. 4:7
Later, in Proverbs, He tells us this:
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. — Prov. 9:10
So, we lay the foundation with knowledge, we build walls with wisdom and the finishing touch is understanding. Therefore, we must be very sure that our knowledge is based on a foundation of knowledge that includes The Holy One (Jehovah God) and Jesus Christ. Then we must be sure that our wisdom comes from heaven. We can know this if it is ” first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere”‘ So, any so-called wisdom that advocates anything less than these qualities is not from heaven and is not of God. (Kind of reminds me of the parable of the houses — one built on the Rock and one built on the sand,) If we want others to recognize us as the children of God, then we must show love to our brothers and sisters.
10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. — 1 John 3:10
Since the wisdom that is from above is impartial, we must show love to all of our fellow human beings. This love requires us to be peacemakers.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. — Matt. 5:9
If we want to be obedient to our Father in heaven, we will endeavor to become peacemakers unless that action requires us to violate the Holy Scriptures. Jesus was/is the ultimate peacemaker, but He had limits as shown by His words to the Pharisees and His actions when chasing the traders out of the temple. He had perfect knowledge, perfect wisdom and perfect understanding.
1 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? — James 2:1-4 NIV
If you google “verses concerning first impressions in the Bible”, you will only find verses that warn against using first impressions as a guide for measuring a person’s worth. Yet, society teaches us that first impressions are all important and determine whether we will be accepted or rejected. And certainly, that is the worldly view. How many of us use the way another person dresses, our opinion of whether they are beautiful or handsome, their popularity, talent or success as our criteria for selecting friends? If this is really our criteria, then perhaps we should change the name of our church to “The Church of The Beautiful, Handsome,Talented, Successful and Well-Dressed”. But, wait a minute, if we did that, we would have to be very egotistical and self-centered to think that we are qualified to attend and we all know that Christians are not egotistical and/or self-centered. I, for one, am ecstatic that Jesus doesn’t use that criteria to determine who can be saved. If you spend any time talking to those outside the church about why they don’t go to church, one of the reasons you will hear quite often is that “church people” make me feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. We can change our dress codes for churches (most churches have) but that will not solve the problem. Hurting people come to church to find relief and in most cases, they have come to the point in their life, that how we dress is not what attracts or deters them. It is how we make them feel that is important. Most people come to church for one of two reasons; we were either raised to go to church or we came to the end of our rope and we haven’t found satisfactory answers to our problems anywhere else. We need to welcome guests and strangers in our church with the love, warmth and enthusiasm we would show a long lost brother or sister who has decided to come home. Why? Because that is exactly how Jesus sees them and what they could become to us if we greet them and accept them as we should.