It seems every other week the news reports of another riot somewhere. Some months back all we heard about was the terrible riots in Ferguson, Missouri. Now all that’s on the news and the internet is the most recent riots in Baltimore. I’ll be honest, I’m not clear on the cause of the latest riots and my heart tells me that I don’t want to know. I don’t know where you stand and what your views are, but just so you’ll know, I believe this rioting is absolutely ridiculous and insane behavior. It’s tragic and heartbreaking to see people fighting and hurting each other. What makes all of this rioting even more upsetting is that they are fighting the wrong enemy. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”(Eph.6:12) Did you get that? Our struggle or fight “is not against flesh and blood”. That means our fight is not against people. Our fight is not against one another. When people are rioting and fighting with one another they are fighting the wrong enemy. Our enemy is NOT people. Our fight is “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”(Eph.6:12) To break that down, simply put, our fight is against the devil. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”(I Pet.5:8) The devil is our enemy, so when we are fighting and rioting with people, we are fighting the wrong enemy. You better believe that Satan loves all the rioting. Nothing makes Satan happier than to see mankind fighting and devouring one another instead of standing firm against his sinful schemes. We need to stop these pointless riots and fighting the wrong enemy and get serious about the spiritual riot we’re involved in against Satan for our souls.
I was taught all my growing up years that I should never hate and that hate is not even a nice word. Well, as an adult, I’ll just go ahead and confess that I’m a hater. I was driving to Little Rock recently and thinking about how pornography and adultery are destroying so many lives and families today. Then I immediately thought about how much I hate pornography and adultery. As I continued my drive it dawned on me that my hatred is not only for pornography and adultery but for all sin. Yes, I’m a hater. I hate sin! Before you come down too hard on me for being a hater, I want you to know that I don’t hate anyone. I don’t hate people but I sure have a strong hatred for sin because of what it does to the physical and spiritual lives of people. I believe sin hurts God because it separates the people God created from Him. Another thing you need to know is that God is a hater too. “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.”(Prov.6:16-19) God loves each and every one of us so much and wants us all to spend eternity with Him in heaven but when it comes to sin, God is a hater. Hating the sin that hurts us and our relationship with God should motivate us to do our best to avoid sin.
Have you ever had that experience where you see someone you haven’t seen in a while and after a little small talk they proceed to remind you of a mistake you made years earlier? You’re shocked and blown away that they even remember, much less bring up such an embarrassing and disgraceful failure from your past. After all, you’ve tried hard to forget that unfortunate experience and prayed that everyone else would forget it as well. I don’t know how you want to be remembered but I’m sure you don’t want to be remembered for your failures. We’ve all failed miserably at times but not a one of us wants to be remembered for our failures. I’m so thankful that our Father in heaven doesn’t remember us for the failures we commit. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”(Heb.8:12) Could God remember every single one of our past failures? Absolutely, no doubt about it, but He chooses not to remember our failures. When we come to Christ at baptism (Gal.3:26-27) God forgives our every sin and failure. (Eph.1:7) The world may always see failure in us but God sees the blood of His Son, redemption, forgiveness, grace and mercy. We may be known to those of the world by our failures, but once we’re in Christ, God only knows us as His children. Forget your failures, God has.
Walking through the gate at Augusta National to watch the Master’s practice round last Monday was a dream come true for me. I would compare it to a kid at Disney World. I saw so many things that I’d seen for years on television. I saw Amen Corner and the Sarazen Bridge. I saw the coveted green jacket worn only by Augusta National members and Masters Champions. It was so neat to be able to see players whom I’d watched for years on television. No doubt the most remarkable sight that I saw at the Masters was the Master Himself. I clearly saw our Master in heaven at the Masters. That may sound silly to you but I assure you it was Him and not a case of mistaken identity. I saw our Lord and Master in the beauty of Augusta National. From the blooming Azaleas to the perfectly manicured and green fairways, I saw the Master and Creator. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”(Rom.1:20) I saw our Master at the Masters in the traditions of Augusta National. It’s a place that has been steeped in tradition for many decades. Our Master passed down to us through His Word His traditions that we’re to practice as His church. I also saw our Master at the Masters in talent. I’ve been playing golf for many years and honestly have little to no talent at my hobby. These players at the Masters have been gifted by the Master to be able to do things with a golf club and ball that most only dream about. The shots they hit and the putts they make are simply the result of a raw God given talent. “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.”(Rom.12:6) Our Master gives us gifts that we must find and put to use just like those golfers at the Masters. I knew it; I just knew it was Him. I’m telling you, I saw the Master at the Masters.
When my son was about three years old, I remember one specific day when I was chasing him through the front yard. He was laughing as he tried so hard to out run his dad. As he ran from the grass to the pavement of the neighbor’s driveway, I was right behind him and accidently stepped on a blanket he was dragging behind. Of course, at that very moment he falls down face first on the pavement. Accidents happen, we know that, but it broke my heart as he was hurt and crying. It doesn’t matter if it’s physical pain or emotional or how old they are, when our kids hurt, we parents hurt too. If you’re a parent you understand that and if you’re not a parent, then ask your parents about the validity of that statement. No parent wants their child to hurt. How did our heavenly Father feel when His Son was hurting emotionally in the garden and then in excruciating physical pain on the cross? “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”(Lk.22:44) This is describing Jesus’ emotional pain the night before He endured the cross. Jesus was beaten and mistreated before his body was ever nailed to the cross. (Mt.27:27-31) What if that was your son? How would you have felt? I can’t begin to fathom the feelings of our heavenly Father as His Son was in such pain. I realize the pain Jesus endured was part of God’s plan to save man from the beginning. I don’t know what God felt as His Son hurt and died on the cross, I just don’t know. But I do know how God felt about us as His Son bled and died on the cross. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”(Rom.5:8) No matter what God was going through as He sent His Son to the cross, He did it because He loves us. Because of my fleshly nature, I can only assume that God felt some kind of pain while His Son suffered. Since it was God’s love for us that sent Jesus to the cross, I would think that God feels some kind of pain when we, His adopted children, hurt today.