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Week 3 June 2023, Devotion Part 1

Be the more zealous to confirm your call and election… so there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:10-11

Pity the self-sacrificing jihadist who had pictured his entrance into a radically different paradise. To his surprise George Washington, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson gave him a boisterous welcome. Then they promptly beat him up. Seeing the long line of more than just “four fathers” awaiting their turn, the fellow cried out in anguish, “What happened to the seventy virgins I was promised would meet me?” “Friend,” replied the man who could not tell a lie, “You were deceived. It was Virginians!”

“Friend,” said the king to the man who arrived at his son’s wedding reception without wearing the required identifiable garment, “How did you get in here?” Then he ordered his attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen” (see Matthew 22:1-14). Jesus definitely could not tell a lie, so we are left to ponder why He referred to the deceived and doomed outcast as “friend.” The emperor Nero as the titular “Father of his Nation” had means to “unfriend” any and all who loathed his grotesque Facebook profile. It revealed a prolific murderer, “gifted” singer, and “celebrated” stage actor. In A.D. 68 the mortified Senate had enough of the monster’s debauchery and ordered him flogged to death. The 31-year-old Nero beat them to the punch by drinking poison. His dying words were Qualis artifex pereo – “What an artist the world is losing in me!” Was hell happy to gain him as “friend?” Did he befriend other gnashers of teeth who had cultivated a fatally flawed self-image? (Part 1 of 2)

Comment: Peter has clearly come into his own and we buy this idea of a grand red-carpet-type entrance to the premiere of “My Life in Heaven.” With any luck, we didn’t notice that “many are called, but few are chosen.” So, the Holy Spirit jolts us out of our Hollywood delusion by switching the focus on Christ’s’ words in Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life and few are those who find it.” Multitudes followed Jesus in the heyday of His popularity. Few thronged to keep Him company in Gethsemane or on Golgotha. Luke 14:25-35 tells how effectively He thinned the “herd” of the “unhearing.” He will have NO RIVALS in relationship, NO REFUSAL of the cross; NO RETREAT from costly conflict – hence the necessity of counting the cost of following Jesus. Purged by now from the adrenaline rush of sentimental Christianity that discounts the sacrificial, we are free to dive eagerly into Peter’s declaration, that “Christ’s divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”


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