January 23, 2022

Pastoral Nuggets: Getting Back to the Basics

In Matthew 3:16-17, we find the account of the baptism of Jesus.

He said, “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

And speaking of coming “up straightway out of the water,” I am reminded of the time I learned that using Southern Colloquialisms while preaching through an interpreter to a Spanish speaking congregation … is not a good idea!

Somehow, and do not ask me how, I got on the subject of baptism by immersion versus being sprinkled. Again, it was one of my less intelligent moments.

To dramatically emphasize my point that baptism by immersion is the correct way to be baptized, I emphatically declared, “And besides, Jesus did not come straightway up out of a Dixie Cup!”

And at that moment, my interpreter looked at me with a dumbfounded look on his face. He raised his hands, palms up, and shrugged his shoulders at me.

His body language was asking me, “What in the world are you talking about?” Realizing that he had no clue what a Dixie Cup was, I blurted out, “Coffee cup!  Okay?  Coffee cup!” Somehow, I lost the crowd and things went downhill from there!

However, as you may have surmised by now, my column today is not about a Dixie Cup. My focus today is on verse 17.

Please reread it: “And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

This scripture is intriguing to me because not only does Jehovah God declare that Jesus is His Son, He declares that He, Jehovah, is well pleased with Him.

Now, the obvious question is: Why? Why is Jehovah pleased with Him? You see, this is just the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. He has yet to turn the water into wine, heal the deaf, the dumb, the blind, and all the rest. He has not cast out any demons, raised the dead, or defeated satan through the Cross of Calvary and an empty tomb. Yet, here is Jehovah God declaring that He is well pleased with Him.

Again, why is He pleased? I think it can be summed-up in one word: “Obedience!”

You see, obedience is the most basic foundational tool in discovering and fulfilling the will of God for your life. And obedience always precedes and supersedes calling and destiny. Without obedience we will never move into our calling, nor fulfil our destiny.

However, just as Jehovah God knew that because of His Son’s obedience all the miracles would transpire, satan would ultimately be defeated, and that salvation would come to mankind, so must we know that through our obedience to Him, His plan for our lives will come to fruition.

Again, obedience is the most basic foundational tool in discovering and fulfilling the will of God for your life.

Ray Kroc is responsible for franchising McDonald’s restaurants back in the 1950’s. He required all his franchisees to attend a sort of “Hamburger University,” if you will. There he taught them the basics about running a successful McDonald’s franchise. He required that certain minimum standards be maintained.

In other words, their success depended upon them being obedient to the instructions they had received. He then would admonish them, “If you find your business floundering, get back to the basics of what you have been trained to do, and do it well!”

If 2020 has taught me nothing else, it has taught me that now, right now, is the time for Christians, churches, and individuals to get back to the basics of our faith and our lives, and in obedience, once do well what we have been called to do. This may mean becoming Spiritual Minimalists and jettisoning all the fluff & stuff in our families, churches, and personal lives.

However, if we simply do this, everything else will fall into place. And hey! We need to forget about the Dixie Cups.  Sometimes our Southern Colloquialisms just do not work! We need to say what we mean, mean what we say, and do whatever it takes to get the job done – even if it means getting rid of a bunch of stuff! Let’s get back to the basics!

Brother Aaron 

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