June 30, 2011

4th of July Reflection: "What Think Ye Of Christ?"

The 4th of July weekend is here, and for folks in the United States, it may be a time of reflection, of celebration, of a day spent alone and away from family members from whom we may be alienated, or just another day. It's supposed to be a time to celebrate freedom. What is freedom?

If you know your American history, you know that the colonial victory over British rule didn't mean freedom for everyone. It didn't mean freedom for those who were enslaved, and it meant the beginning of the end for many Native Americans and their cultures, languages, and traditions.

Still, I can't think of another country in which I would chose to live. But what is freedom?

Real freedom is spiritual freedom--the ability to consistently know and chose what is right and follow that path. But who is to say what is right? Who has the authority to speak directly to what is right or wrong for everyone, at all times, and in all places? Only Christ.

Jesus Christ is the standard by which rightness and wrongness must be measured. The Bible, a perfect revelation of God's thoughts toward us and God's will for us, shows us who Jesus is.

John Newton, a slave trader who later renounced his sin, and became a Christian minister and hymn writer, wrote this hymn which is seldom sung these days:

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What think ye of Christ? by John Newton


What think you of Christ? is the test
To try both your state and your scheme;
You cannot be right in the rest,
Unless you think rightly of him.
As Jesus appears in your view,
As he is beloved or not;
So God is disposed to you,
And mercy or wrath are your lot.



Some take him a creature to be,
A man, or an angel at most;
Sure these have not feelings like me,
Nor know themselves wretched and lost:
So guilty, so helpless, am I,
I durst not confide in his blood,
Nor on his protection rely,
Unless I were sure he is God.



Some call him a Savior, in word,
But mix their own works with his plan;
And hope he his help will afford,
When they have done all that they can:
If doings prove rather too light
(A little, they own, they may fail)
They purpose to make up full weight,
By casting his name in the scale.



Some style him the pearl of great price,
And say he's the fountain of joys;
Yet feed upon folly and vice,
And cleave to the world and its toys:
Like Judas, the Savior they kiss,
And, while they salute him, betray;
Ah! what will profession like this
Avail in his terrible day?



If asked what of JESUS I think?
Though still my best thoughts are but poor;
I say, he's my meat and my drink,
My life, and my strength, and my store,
My Shepherd, my Husband, my Friend,
My Savior from sin and from thrall;
My hope from beginning to end,
My Portion, my LORD, and my All.

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I think this hymn says it all. So many of the questions about so-called "social issues" dividing the church can be answered with clarity and certainty by posing this single question: "What think ye of Christ?"
Without the Christ of the Bible, there is no freedom--no freedom of will, no freedom of purpose, and no freedom of eternal destiny. Apart from Him, no one can make a good choice---without good choices, there is no freedom. There is only a waiting for an unfolding of the wrath to come.

I'm looking forward to the fun, food, and relaxation of the holiday. I'm also remembering with gratitude the One Who Makes Real Freedom Possible.

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