Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Getting Things Backward!

Meditation for the week of February 21, 2010

Luke 13:30 "And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last."

The Lord keeps doing things backward.  When will He get with the program and start running things like man would run them if man really were God?

The last will be first?  Who wants to be last in this life?  I remember what it was like to be picked last for gym teams in junior high school.  It was not fun.  I couldn’t see very well and was a little over-weight, so I was usually considered to be the best person the other team had.  But God says the last will be first so maybe my time is coming.  I think the Lord was saying that the Jews who were proud of their heritage and who thought they were number one in their relationship with God would one day be standing at a closed door to the kingdom, and the Gentiles who were last and unclean in the eyes of the Jews would be the ones who would accept Christ and enter in.  This reminds me of another place where the Lord seems to have things backwards:

In Luke 5:32, the Lord says,  "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."  He appears to be saying that the righteous do not see their need of repentance while sinners do.  Now of course we find out over and over again in Scripture that no one is really righteous.  But surely trying to live right has got to count for something, right?  How can a person who has “done the best they could” all of their lives be shut out of heaven while somebody who has lived like sin but ultimately repents and believes on the Lord Jesus gets to enter in?  That certainly doesn’t seem right, now does it?  Of course it was those who knew how to tithe and fast and publicly pray and do alms that seemed to have no conscience about crucifying an innocent man that they envied.  Maybe the righteous aren’t so righteous!

Then I think of how the Lord says that we live by dying.  In Mark 8:35 the Lord says, "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”  Now some people actually lost their physical lives for the sake of the Gospel, and the Lord says they were the ones who saved their lives.  We know that salvation from the penalty of our sin is based on faith alone in the Lord Jesus.  But there is another sense in which we can save or preserve our lives.  If we live our lives with eternity in view rather than with present temporal blessing in view, we will lose our lives now but save them so that God can use us in His eternal program.  Paul seemed to understand this.  He turned his back on a political career as a Pharisee in order to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles.  He died at the hands of the Emperor Nero, but because of his denying Himself and taking up his cross many of us are saved today.  His letters written while he was in prison have been the doctrinal guide for Christians down through the ages.   He could have prospered in this world because he had “potential,” and I am sure that his relatives and friends would have cautioned him against the path that he took.  But it appears to me that he lived by dying.

And then there is that business about being strong when we are weak (2 Corinthians 12:10) and being wise when we are foolish (1 Corinthians 1:27).  What about that business of leading and being great by serving (Mark 9:35).  Is it really the humble and not the proud that are advanced in the Kingdom (Luke 14:11)?  The next thing you know, we will really believe that there was great victory obtained by this King Who was crucified!

I’m afraid that it isn’t the Lord who has things backwards?  It is us.  We like to play by the world’s rules and forget the benefits that come with playing the game by the Lord’s rules.  Yes, the Lord may seem to have things backwards, but somehow I think He knows what He is doing.  We will probably never know for sure this side of eternity; however, since nobody that I know has ever had enough confidence in the Lord to completely follow His plan, and that includes this author.

Bruce Collins

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