Following the Pattern

When a person does embroidery they follow a pattern. If you look from the bottom, it looks like a mess but from the top, you can follow the pattern and it makes sense. God has laid out the pattern for us. I found a video about doing everything to follow God’s pattern: Do Everything – Steven Curtis Chapman.
 


Tell the story of grace in everything you do and what seems like a jumbled mess will someday look like something beautiful.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31

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About Mark Shields

Mark volunteers as a member of the media ministry team at his church. A few years ago, he started an on-line Bible study guide called “This Day with God Devotional”. He uses this as a tool in his journey through the Bible. We live in a very busy world with busy schedules so this tool has helped him continue with daily Bible reading and study. Each of the studies are designed to help apply our faith in the work place, at school, or at home. Join him on this journey or check in every so often to read his thoughts.
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8 Responses to Following the Pattern

  1. Yes, God has laid out a pattern for us.
    Jesus, the Word of God made flesh, is The Pattern. “Becoming more like Jesus was” should be our goal. Sadly, most Evangelical are using a different pattern- Paul.

    Here is a contrast between the teachings of Jesus and Paul regarding the Most Important Commandment.

    JESUS
    Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?
    Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.” [Matthew 22:36-40, Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18]

    Of all the commandments, which is the most important?
    “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “ is this: ‘Hear, of Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than THESE.” [Mark 12:28-31, Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Leviticus 19:18]

    PAUL
    But, in contrast, Paul didn’t know the greatest, most important, first commandment according to Jesus. Paul made up his own rule. Paul wrote:
    “The entire law is summed up in a SINGLE command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” [Galatians 5:14, Leviticus 19:18]

    And again, Paul wrote:
    “He how loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not covet, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this ONE RULE: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” [Romans 13:8-10, Leviticus 19:18]

    Jesus said it’s TWO commandments, with the greatest, most important, first command to
    .1) first, love God with everything you’ve got, and
    .2) second, love people.

    Paul said no, it ONE commandment- to love people.

    Paul, and the Beatles, were wrong.
    Jesus is right. Jesus is my pattern. I’m following Jesus.

  2. Hi Mark,
    Thanks for your encouraging response. Under your “Categories” section listed to the right here, I am very impressed with your selection of some of the Books of the Bible. It is quite different from the selection that would be found on most other “Bible-believing Evangelical” sites.

    Based on your picture, here are couple “fairly short” pieces I’ve written that you may be able to relate to – I mean “dig” 🙂

    1973 – Inside the mind of a “Jesus Person”
    Wow, that “Love Song” concert was groovy, man. They are Right On! The Holy Trinity isn’t “Jesus, Paul, and Chuck”. Besides Jesus, all the characters in the Bible had frailties- like Jonah and Paul. God told them to go one way, and they disobeyed God and did the opposite- but God still worked through them eventually, after they repented. It’s encouraging that God can use imperfect messengers like them, because it proves He can also use an imperfect man like me to advance His kingdom, when I humble myself, repent, and obey His commands. Cool !

    But what do I do with this truth? I don’t know of a single church that simply teaches the Bible simply and preaches the whole counsel of God, including Paul’s sins and mistakes. They all teach “we should be like Paul” and “we should listen to Paul” without examining Paul’s life and Paul’s teachings in the light of the teachings of Jesus in Scripture. They all make Paul and his teachings the one absolute standard of right and wrong, rather than God’s commandments and the testimony of Jesus. They make Paul the center, not Jesus. I want to bring my hippie friends to church- but how to I explain to them that it’s taboo to mention Paul’s sins and doctrinal errors in church?

    How can I make them understand that they should deal with “Paul Worship” the same way that I deal with smoking weed? When I’m at the beach with the hip crowd, I won’t take a stand in public. I won’t say “I’m high on Jesus, and so using a mind-altering drug for recreational purposes is wrong, because Jesus is better.” I don’t want to be rejected by my peers. So I’ll smoke with them, but I won’t let the weed alter my own mind, because “I didn’t inhale!” In order to be accepted in the Establishment church fellowship, you have to smoke the weed of “Paul Worship”- just be true to yourself and “don’t inhale.”

    Maybe I could speak in code, like they did in the New Testament church with the fish symbol. I could just say “Jesus is our model.” But never discuss the Scriptures that show why Paul is NOT our model. Then the Paulist Establishment church won’t persecute me, but the other Jesus People will know that I’m still keeping the faith and “not inhaling.”

    What I really need is a short catchy slogan to let my fellow hippies know what is expected of them in the Establishment Church now in 1973, regarding the issue of Paul the Pharisee’s sins. Lets see……. “If you don’t ask about Paul’s sins, I won’t tell about them”…. hmmm. Kind of long and wordy. I need to refine that. Maybe there is someone I could bounce this off, to get some ideas. I know! My buddy has a new friend from a Baptist background that seems really smart and good with words. I don’t think he’s involved in church much, but I could talk with that guy. Clinton. What was his first name? One syllable, beginning with a consonant…. George Clinton?… maybe not. Anyway, I’ll talk with Clinton and see if he has an idea for a short catchy slogan- maybe boiled down to four words or so…

    It’s not easy for me now in 1973, as a young man just trying to start out in ministry. We’re in a recession, the economy is terrible, jobs are scarce, immorality is rampant, and in many ways the country is falling apart. For years now America has been stuck in a seemingly endless, unwinnable guerilla war in an Asian nation that borders China. The Middle East is very unstable. Based on what’s happening in Israel, it looks like Jesus could be returning soon.

    I don’t have any position or influence in the Christian world. I know from the Scriptures that “Paul Worship” is wrong, but the entire Church Establishment says it’s right. Who am I to challenge hundreds years of false man-made tradition, like Jesus, Martin Luther, Columbus, Copernicus and Galileo? I don’t want to bite the hand that feeds me (and my family).

    I really will “Stand up, stand up for Jesus, and wave his banner high”- just not right now in 1973. Later, when I’m at the height of my career, and I’m financially secure and I don’t have to worry about finding a job or keeping my job, and I have some real influence- maybe 40 years from now, when I’m, like, in my sixties, say in around 2013- that’s when I’ll really be able to stand up for Jesus. Things will be different then. I’ll do it then.

    The Evangelical “Mexican Hat Dance”
    Sin is always specific, not general.
    The “Hat” is, “What were Paul’s sins?”

    The music starts, with a cheery blast of trumpets in a melody that is familiar to most North Americans- the “Mexican Hat Dance.” (The national dance of Mexico, taught in Mexican public schools since 1921, and officially named “El Jarabe Tapatio.”)

    A couple in rather elaborate traditional costumes begins the dance. The man throws his huge sombrero hat on the floor, and the couple dances around it, but never steps on the hat. (The “Hat” is, “what were Paul’s sins?”) Here are the basic steps- (there may be one or two other basic steps, but they are very similar to these.)

    What were Paul’s sins?
    STEP 1) Paul said; “I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man.” [1 Timothy 1:13]
    (Response- Those were Saul’s sins, before Jesus called him. What were Paul’s sins as a Christian? )

    STEP 2) Paul said; “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst.” [1 Timothy 1:15]
    (Response- Sin is alwasy specific. What were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian? )

    STEP 3) Paul said; “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” [Romans 3:23]
    (Response- Again the same question; What were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian? )

    STEP 4) Paul said; “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.” [Philippians 3:12-13]
    (Response- They say third time’s a charm. Same question; What were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian? )

    STEP 5) Paul said; “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do- this I keep on doing.” [Romans 7:15-19]
    (Response- One more time! This is getting boring. Same question; Specifically, what were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian based on specific verses of the Bible? )

    STEP 6) LOOP- REPEAT steps 1 through 5, until your dance partner gives up, the audience gets bored, or the music stops. The rule is- never step on the “Hat,” just keep dancing around it.

    • Mark Shields says:

      I enjoyed reading your piece. God’s commandments and the teachings of Jesus are the absolute standard. Your use of the word picture with the “Mexican Hat Dance” was entertaining as I could hear the music in my mind while reading. Have a great weekend!

  3. Hi Mark,
    Your reply was like a wonderful birthday gift for me.
    Yes, we agree on the absolute standard: God’s commandments and the testimony of Jesus, as the Apostle John wrote about in Revelation 12:17. (The testimony of Jesus recorded by Matthew Mark Luke & John, backed up by The Law of Moses and The Prophets.)

    Luke wrote the Book of Acts. (Paul did not write it.) Acts is not a Gospel, centered on the perfect actions and words of Jesus. But Acts is a narrative, like other narratives in the Bible, revealing the sinful actions and false words of the imperfect people in its pages, like David’s adultery and murder, Peter denying 3 times he knew Jesus, and Paul… by the way, what about Paul?

    Parable of the Wacky New Religion

    “SNAKE WORSHIPPER” and “PAULIST” make plans to start their own wacky new religion, “based on the Bible”.

    SNAKE WORSHIPPER: I think people make too big a deal about Jesus. Who do they think he is- God? Do they think Jesus is the only way to be saved? The Bible says, “So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived. ”[Numbers 21:9] People are saved by looking at a snake. What do we need Jesus for? We should just keep it simple.

    PAULIST: Right on! Who needs a “Jesus Movement?” I say what we really need is a “Paul Movement!” But as to your comment, I think Christians would say that the salvation referred to there was only temporary salvation from snake poison, for the Israelites at a particular time. And it pointed to the future, to Jesus dying on the cross to save us from our sins.

    SNAKE WORSHIPPER: Don’t confuse the issue with facts! That verse is my favorite verse in Scripture. It says it right there in black and white. So my personal interpretation of this one verse is the trump card that negates all other verses of Scripture about salvation. Are you questioning the inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures?

    PAULIST: Of course, you must be right! If you quote one verse out of context, insist that it means something that contradicts other verses of Scripture, and then accuse me of questioning the inerrancy of Scripture if I disagree with your personal interpretation, than you must be correct. How foolish of me. Please continue.

    SNAKE WORSHIPPER: So that’s it. Just look to the serpent and be saved. Never mind about Jesus.

    PAULIST: But the Bible tells us: “He (King Hezekiah) broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it.” [2 Kings 18:4] So Christians would say that this snake had become an idol, which the godly King Hezekiah destroyed.

    SNAKE WORSHIPPER: Bah! Hezekiah was like Judas, who betrayed the true salvation! We snake worshippers know better. We must restore true worship.

    PAULIST: OK. If that is your personal interpretation of one verse of Scripture, then you must be correct. But my favorite verses of Scripture are from Paul writing to the church in Corinth: “In Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me.” [1 Corinthians 4:15-16]

    SNAKE WORSHIPPER: But Christians would remind us what the Bible says: “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach… They love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi’. But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi’, for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father”, for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher’, for you have one Teacher, the Christ (or Messiah).’” [Matthew 23:1-3, 7-10]

    PAULIST: Don’t confuse the issue with facts! Those 2 verses from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians are my favorite verses in Scripture. It says it right there in black and white. So my personal interpretation of these two verses is the trump card that negates all other verses of Scripture. Are you questioning the inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures?

    SNAKE WORSHIPPER: Of course, you must be right! If you quote two verses out of context, insist that they mean something that contradicts many other verses of Scripture, and then accuse me of questioning the inerrancy of Scripture if I disagree with your personal interpretation, than you must be correct. How foolish of me. Please continue.

    PAULIST: So that’s it. Paul is our father, and we should “be like Paul”. Paul also testified about himself without any other witnesses: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” [1 Corinthians 11:1] So that has to mean that to “be like Paul” is the same thing as to “be like Christ”, and Paul lived a perfect life as a Christian, everything Paul did was 100% correct and everyone around him was wrong, and Paul is our perfect model for life and ministry. Unless all men speak well of Paul and everything Paul ever did, said, or wrote about himself, they are heretics who are denying the inerrancy of Scripture. What other possible interpretation could there be?

    SNAKE WORSHIPPER: Yes of course! That is the only possible choice. Well since we’re starting our own wacky new religion, we need some of the trappings of religion. How about a slogan and a rallying cry?

    PAULIST: I’ve got it! “There is no god but the serpent, and Paul is his prophet”! Our rallying cry can be “Paul is great!”

    SNAKE WORSHIPPER: That has a familiar ring to it somehow…

    PAULIST: We’ll make people take a religious pilgrimage once in their lives- we’ll call the pilgrimage the “Journey of Paul”. It will go from Galatia (present day Turkey) to Antioch (present day Syria) and to Jerusalem, so we can “be like Paul” and do the things Paul did.

    SNAKE WORSHIPPER: Tell me more.

    PAULIST: In Galatia, the pilgrims will go and circumcise some young men, [Acts 16:3] and then yell at them “You foolish Galatians” [Galatians 3:1] because they got circumcised.

    SNAKE WORSHIPPER: But in the Bible, Paul taught passionately, over and over, that Christians should never be circumcised under any circumstances, and Jesus said “Anyone who says ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” [Matthew 5:22]

    PAULIST: What are you, a liberal? Only liberals criticize Paul. Conservatives have an instant, airtight justification for everything Paul ever did or said. If you criticize Paul that means you’re a liberal who is attacking Jesus.

    SNAKE WORSHIPPER: Of course- carry on.

    PAULIST: At Antioch, the pilgrims must have a sharp disagreement and part company with whomever they are with. [Acts 15:39] If they are married, they must get divorced. If they have children, they must disown them. If they are with friends, they must separate.

    SNAKE WORSHIPPER: But in the Bible, Paul wrote to Timothy “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer without anger or disputing.” [1 Timothy 2:8]

    PAULIST: Paul meant for that to apply to everyone else except him. Paul is an exception. Paul is always the exception to the rule. If Paul disputed, he must have been right. Remember in the inerrant Scripture, Paul testified about himself “follow my example”.

    SNAKE WORSHIPPER: Yes of course.

    PAULIST: Luke records Paul as saying “compelled the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem.” [Acts 20:22] So since Paul said this about himself, that has to mean it was true, and we should “be like Paul.”

    SNAKE WORSHIPPER: But Luke, who was personally traveling with Paul to Jerusalem at that time, also wrote “Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.” [Acts 21:4]

    PAULIST: What are you, a left-wing liberal heretic who is attacking Jesus and the Bible?

    SNAKE WORSHIPPER: OK. Lets just keep true to our foundations as a religion. Just look to the serpent and be saved. Paul is our father, and we should “be like Paul”.

    Hopefully NOT to be continued….

  4. Jesus is our pattern – not Paul. Here is another parable in the form of a “Letter” to illustrate what happens if you follow the wrong pattern.

    Letter to the Angelenos
    Setting and context: Los Angeles California, Summer 2009. Due to lack of rain, there is a water shortage.

    The Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, preached that homeowners should only water their lawns 2 days a week, not every day, in order to save water. But after that, a TV news crew camped out 24/7 at the mayor’s house, and found that the mayor’s own lawn was being watered every day. Now, it has come to the mayor’s attention that some other homeowners are also watering their lawns every day again.

    The mayor could write a letter to the homeowners of Los Angeles about the need for water rationing. If he decided to use the life of the Paul the Pharisee as his example, and he wanted to “be like Paul,” he could write the letter below, using Paul’s letter to the Galatians as his pattern.

    TEXT OF LETTER TO THE ANGELENOS

    Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles,
    To the homeowners of Los Angeles:

    I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the 2-day-a-week plan for watering your lawns. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion. But even if we or an angel from heaven should tell you to stop the 2-day-a-week water-rationing plan, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody should tell you a different message, let him be eternally condemned! Not even my personal staff members at City Hall are watering their own lawns every day.

    You foolish Angelenos! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes I clearly explained the need for water rationing. I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. What has happened to all your joy? Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? How I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!

    Mark my words! I, Antonio Villaraigosa, tell you that if you water your lawn every day, your life in Los Angeles will be of no value at all. You have fallen away from grace. For in Los Angeles, neither a green lawn nor a brown lawn has any value. You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the 2-day-a-week water-rationing plan? A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty whoever he may be. As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and turn their lawns into swamps!

    Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to water your lawn every day. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for having a brown lawn. In Los Angeles, neither a green lawn nor a brown lawn means anything.

    Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I’ve suffered a lot for the City of Los Angeles. Do as I say, not as I did. How dare you ask me why I was watering my own lawn every day?
    Regards,
    The Mayor of Los Angeles – Antonio Villaraigosa

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