Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.
- Galatians 2:1-5
In speaking of “preservation,” there are different methods used. The Apostle Paul held true to the freedom of the Gospel, and Titus did not have to be circumcised. Not that circumcision is wrong, but, from a religious rite point of view, it takes away from salvation through faith alone, and not of works. Being circumcised would be an act that we perform. So, when you read Paul’s arguments about circumcision, note what he is doing. He is preserving the Gospel that teaches only God can save, we must only trust Him.
But the photo above is what brought this subject to mind. I have been purchasing large bags of D’Anjou pears for most of this year. If I ate one pear per day, I would finish the bag before they began to rot. But, this last bag was different, and the spoiled fruit happened in a strange way, after only half the bag of fruit was eaten. The core was fine and the area near the skin was fine, until cut. The spoiled portion was in-between. Once cut, the rot spread rapidly, being exposed to the air. We had gotten a dozen Gala apples a week or two before, and they rotted in the same fashion, after about half had been eaten. With this type of spoiling, the skin looks perfectly fine, no blemishes. But, the fruit inside is sour, rotten, and just no good.
My wife thinks that they must have treated the skin with some type of preservative. Whatever is done, the skin stays clean unless bumped hard by something, leaving a mark. The preservative cannot penetrate deep enough to keep the fruit fresh throughout, so the fruit rots in this odd manner. I agree with her. It brings back an old DuPont slogan, Better Living through Chemistry, but is it better to ingest such chemicals? I am not turning into an “organic only” person. I don’t have the money to afford it, but it makes you wonder.
It makes me wonder what we are preserved with that accomplishes the same thing as the pears and apples. What makes us look perfectly fine on the outside, but beneath the surface, we are rotten inside?
You look at the news and all the anger and hatred. Odd that the angry people are spewing hate because others are hating, but I have brought that up before. My point here is that this anger and hate has always been there. They just had their preservative skin covering their rotten core. C. S. Lewis wrote a letter to “Malcolm” and said, “Anger is the fluid that love bleeds when you cut it” (Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer). Yet, hate can easily generate anger also. I suppose strong emotion in general. I think Lewis’ point is that even when you might say that you hate the other person in your anger, you are defending within yourself what you consider a slight to something that you love, even if that something is a bit of peace and quiet. Now, as I briefly change rabbit holes in my mind, I am wondering if peace and quiet is a fantasy and can never exist in this world.
So, what is it? Are you someone who attends church, says all the right things, and lets everyone see how good you are? Yet, you are unchanged by Jesus Christ, because you have not committed your life to Him? The preservative faux Christian veneer does not provide you lasting Joy, Peace, and Hope. It does not provide salvation. It merely allows you to socialize with a group of nice people, who may have the same veneer of preservative covering their rotten core.
And do not, or maybe you should, take offense that I might be calling your core rotten. When you realize that you are a sinful person in need of a Savior, you are a lot further down the path than those who maintain their comparison to the really rotten neighbor of theirs. Forget comparisons. The pear in the photo was cut and by the time I got the camera and staged the photo, the rot had grown to the surface. As Jesus spoke of a little yeast spreading throughout the dough, a little rot can spread rapidly. Just see what is happening around us.
But when Jesus comes into your heart, the rot is removed.
Have you been out shopping since the riots have come and gone? Have you seen someone act in an irrational manner? Have you feared that this person is going to demand something from you by a threat of violence or are they simply self-absorbed, and not noticing others around them?
The spewing out of hate for a few weeks changes almost everyone.
Let it not change our ability to show love for our neighbors.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.