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The command from the Father and the Spirit to us, the disciples of Jesus, is so beautiful and straightforward in its simplicity and directness.  It is perfectly understandable why men who do not have the interest of God in their minds and hearts would ignore it as much as possible and even completely.  For it is a command even a child or a woman released from demons can understand and practise.  Perhaps, that is the problem with it.  It is too simple and accessible to all and sundry.  It does not take special academic qualifications or special physical gifts or endowments of wealth to listen to Jesus.

In the days when Jesus Himself was on the Earth, there were no tickets sold nor special partnership agreements for anyone to secure a ringside seat to hear Him speak.  The poor and the worst of the sick, even the lepers, found themselves in front of Jesus so that they could hear for themselves what He was saying.  Even those who could not hear found themselves given the gift of hearing straightaway.  There was no podium separating Jesus from His audience, although the disciples did try to form some sort of cordon around Him, albeit ineffectively, for even women with issues of blood could sneak up on Jesus to touch Him.

Listen to Him and put into practice what you have heard.  The command is simple.  The execution of the command is just as simple.  Practise what you have heard from Jesus.  All the disciples had to do was to teach what He had commanded, and as they taught, likewise, practise what they were teaching.

The simplicity and the accessibility of the teachings of Jesus to all and sundry makes it difficult for any person to develop a system of control over others.  It makes it virtually impossible to develop a religion with its own set of archaic rules of do’s and don’ts, with its pressure to compromise to receive acceptability and the use of the fear of rejection to ensure compliance.

Praise be to God who has restored to us the simple truth of His command, which was so conveniently forgotten by those who consider themselves to be somebody in the church, even Peter.  Yes, it is simply, “Listen to Him (Jesus).” [Matthew 17.5; Mark 9.7, Luke 9.35]  And the Spirit of truth is here to simply help us by reminding us what Jesus has said, make it known to us, and tell us what He has heard, that is, what Jesus is still saying.

Having heard what has been said, having been reminded, and having read what has been recorded, then it is only a simple matter of putting it into practice… like the man the disciples saw driving out demons in the Lord’s Name and yet he was not one of the disciples.  Did the Lord stop him?  Did the Lord rebuke him?  No, rather, the Lord corrected the disciples who wanted to stop the man.  Why didn’t the Lord stop the man?  Because the man was merely practising what Jesus had been teaching.  Jesus had been teaching the driving out of demons and had been doing it in front of His disciples to teach them.  And the man was merely putting into practice what he heard and saw Jesus said and did.  If indeed he was one of the men set free at Gennesaret, then he was merely freely giving what he had received – freedom from demons – and was still practising what Jesus had been teaching.

So, now that we have had the command restored and have had time to put some of the teachings to practice, let us share this simplicity to all and sundry that the Lord might draw to us, even as we await with eager anticipation of His imminent arrival.

Since we know that many follow a different Jesus to us, it is fruitless to point out the obvious.  It would only lead to unpleasantness.  Rather, it would be most enjoyable and profitable to ourselves personally if we learn to show those who come in whom we listen to and the advantagesß of listening to our Jesus, some of whose words are recorded in the four gospels by the Spirit of truth.  It is our testimony of the experiences we have in our dedicated practice of His words that can cause any enquirer or follower of a different Christ to reconsider his position.  Rather than correct them about their Christ, it is best and most prudent that we shine as we practise the truths that our Christ has told us and have lives that bear the results of the practice of His words.  As such, it is no longer a complaint about the churches, for we know they have a different Christ.  Even though they may be borrowing some of the words of our Christ, they are merely using them to promote their Christ.

Thanks to the Spirit of truth, we have the word made certain in the gospels that spell out the way that is Jesus, the truth that is Jesus and the life that is Jesus… travelled, enjoyed and lived through listening to Him and Him alone, and the practice thereof of what each person has heard.  It is the collective sharing of the experiences of listening to Jesus and the practice of His word that allows us to relate to each other as members of the same body, functioning together for the good of the entire body… now that we know to distinguish those who belong to other bodies.  For indeed, what does the follower of one Christ or prophet have to do with another?  Nothing at all, except each should follow the Christ or the prophet that he has accepted.  That is why we are not to judge or condemn, but be found following the Christ we have accepted, ensuring that we each practise His words that we have heard, and encouraging one another to do so.

This attitude of live and let live is summarised by the Lord’s words:  “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” [Matthew 8.22]  It is when the listening and the practice of His words causes us to shine as lights that those who have chosen or are deceived in following the other Christs see the perils of the way they have chosen.  Like Elijah, we must learn to let those who follow their Christs to heal, save and deliver according to their own standards without interference from us.  But like Jesus, when they call out begging for mercy, then we should interfere.  For Jesus only healed those who came to Him and those whom the others could not heal.

Let us not make the mistake of the many, as Jesus has warned, for not everyone will enter even the Kingdom of Heaven, for many will say to Him, “Lord, Lord,” but He will say to them, “I never knew you.” [Matthew 7.23]  Those poor souls obviously did not know the Christ they had been serving even though they were driving out demons, prophesying and doing miracles, but had mistaken our Christ for theirs and hence were soundly rejected.  When you look at it in this context, you might just see our Christ was not being rude or harsh, but rather, was offended on behalf of the other Christ, whoever he may be, for his disciples did not know him, and He (our Christ) was rebuking them on his behalf.

As such, let us devote ourselves to knowing and recognising our Christ so that when He arrives we may be greeted as ones known to Him and Him to us.  However, in our devotion to Him, let us not shun those or offend those who belong to the other Christs, but rather, welcome them so that we may learn of their Christs and they of ours, so that they may truly exercise the greatest gift God gave us – freewill.

Hr. Edmond Kwan

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