Don’t be offended. Love Him!
Palm Sunday in Baia Mare (Romania) did away with any uncertainties there may have been. Although the congregation there sang the well-known hymn “Mighty God, we praise Thy name”, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider called on the congregation and all other Christians to not take offence at Jesus.
The Bible text already hints at what the sermon was about: “Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ they were indignant” (Matthew 21: 14–15). The children recognised the Messiah! The Pharisees were indignant. The Chief Apostle said about this: “These very intelligent and educated teachers heard from ignorant children that this carpenter’s son was the Messiah!” On the one hand, there were these devout Pharisees who knew the law by heart. On the other hand, there were these children, who neither knew nor respected the law. The contrast could not have been greater!
“What does this story tell us?” the Chief Apostle asked the congregation. Following is his answer.
- “Let’s not be offended by Jesus, but let us accept His word and adopt His attitude into our own hearts. In order to enter the kingdom of heaven it is not enough to just go to church, pray, sacrifice, and live by the rules.”
None of this is bad, of course, he said, but it will not bring us salvation. A faith that is based solely on tradition cannot save. What is important is the love for God. “Let’s not be Christians out of mere tradition, nor New Apostolic Christians out of mere tradition.”
Don’t bargain with God
There was more food for thought. The Chief Apostle said that living by the rules is relatively simple. “Although you attend every divine service for fifty years, your heart’s attitude might not be right.” Decisive for God is that we love Him and our neighbour.
- “Let’s not bargain with God! Many Christians turn to God and say: ‘I will give You something, if you give me something.”
Even worse is if we try to dictate something to the Lord. The Lord Jesus threw such people out of the temple. “We have to get rid of this attitude. I feel strongly about this,” Chief Apostle Schneider said to the congregation. We are to grow in love.
- “What we do for the Lord we do out of love. We love Him because He loved us. What we do for our neighbour we don’t do in cold deliberation, but because we know that we are doing it for the Lord. Our motivation must be love, anything else is no good.”
Not punishment, but grace
The Son of God emerged as a simple man, the son of a carpenter from Nazareth. And even today He still does not come as a powerful ruler and exerts pressure on human beings, the Chief Apostle said. “Let us not take offence, but accept the Lord as He is. He will leave human beings the freedom to make decisions right to the end.” He wants to save sinners.
- “Let’s also adopt the following attitude of Jesus: we do not expect God to punish sinners and condemn those who are evil.”
The Pharisees were upset because the children, who did not understand anything, were accepted. The Chief Apostle said in conclusion: “Let us accept the Lord as these children did. We are like children. We do not understand everything that God does, but we trust Him.”
Following the divine service, the Chief Apostle was awarded the honorary citizenship of the Romanian city of Baia Mare. More on this on Saturday.