From Jim O'Brien
February 1, 2019

Change That Counts

Hi Friend,

Even an atheist must admit that Jesus was a great teacher. He never wrote a book nor is there any record he even wrote an epistle and yet the words he spoke 2,000 years ago (some of which were only spoken to a small group of disciples) have made their way to us. How many college professors can expect the students taking notes in class to compile their notes into books that will be around for two millennia?

He was teaching a group once when a listener asked Him to settle a dispute he was having with his brother. "Make him divide the inheritance with me," the man said. One gets the impression that the brother was also in the audience. But Jesus refused to judge between the two saying "Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?" (Luke 12:14 NLT). The judge of all the earth chose to let brothers solve their own problem.

We aren't told which brother was right. All we know is that Jesus showed respect for the system God designed by choosing not to intervene. Some things have a way of working out by themselves.

There is something in man's nature that wants to intervene to solve every problem, correct every inequity, and decide every disagreement. When men form governments and choose leaders, they often start with grandiose agendas to change the world. Inevitably it begins by taking money from citizens. Do we want a better school system? Let's spend the money to build new buildings and modernize the facilities. Do we want a better system of medical care? Let the government spend the money to improve the system.

One could conclude that we perceive money and power to be the solution to all problems. But God has all power and unlimited resources. He could intervene to correct these problems. Maybe we think like the man who wanted Jesus to solve his inheritance problem. What if the biological father of these two men knew his sons well enough to know which was wise and which was foolish and dictated his will accordingly?

Getting back to our world, change is necessary, and taxes are required. But balance and wisdom tell us that there is a more important factor. Human choice. Some students don't want to learn-and no amount of money will change that. Some people will not become healthy without a change in lifestyle. All external intervention will be fruitless until the more important internal change occurs first.

Man's desire to build schools to educate minds and create medical facilities to develop healthy bodies is a worthy goal. But worthy goals and wise processes are different. The Apostle Peter was fervent for the Kingdom of God to be established on the earth. He and the other disciples were ready for it to begin. Like many religious people down through the centuries, they convinced themselves that the time was now. As they were leaving the last Passover service they observed with Jesus, they carried their swords, ready for battle. The war was approaching. When a few soldiers appeared to arrest Jesus, Peter must have thought he was initiating the Great War to overthrow the rule of Satan and usher in the Kingdom of God. As he struck at the head of an approaching soldier his errant aim took only the ear of the hapless man. Peter knew he was no physical match for this crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. He was ready to die for the cause.

Again, it was Jesus who brought reason to the situation. He healed the soldier reattaching the man's ear. One might ask how a soldier could arrest the man who just healed his body? Could a man get off an operating table and arrest the doctor who saved his life? How can a man stand face to face with God and not worship Him?

The change that matters is the change of heart.

So Jesus turned His attention to Peter. "Don't you realize that I could ask my father for thousands of angels to protect us and he would send them instantly?" (Matthew 26:54 NLT). After all, Jesus himself had just prayed repeatedly for this cup to pass. And each prayer ended with "If this cup cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done." (Matt. 26:42 NLT).

It is a mark of truly great men to distinguish between personal desire and the will of God. Even fools call for a world of peace, prosperity and health. The wise understand the benefit of limited government.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien