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Miranda Writes: Stop, Drop, and Roll!




by Omar Miranda



I remember where I was and what I saw the first time I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was in the third grade at Dream Lake Elementary School in Apopka, Florida. Some local firefighters came to talk to us about fire safety. I still remember what they said—if you’re ever on fire (and trust me, that was a real possibility for me, as wild as I was) you should stop, drop, and roll. I can’t believe I still remember that! I’m taking some new pills to help me with my memory . . . now if I can just remember where I put them.

I remember being so excited looking at all their gear and then telling my parents when I got home, “I’m gonna be a fireman!” When my parents asked me why, I boldly told them, “Because I want to save people from the fire! I don’t want any of them to die!”

I wanted to be a firefighter when I was in the third grade because I wanted to save people from dying, to save them from the fire. I no longer want to be a firefighter, but I still want more than ever to save people from dying the eternal death they will die if they don’t accept the salvation that Jesus gave them, and I definitely want to save them from the fires of hell that will burn them up. As Christians, do you and I have that as our focus? I want to take some time and talk about Jesus’ mission. Understanding His mission will refocus us on our purpose as well.

Jesus’ mission while He was on this earth was to set people free—spiritually, physically, mentally. Take a look at these passages from the Bible. The first one clearly describes the Messiah’s mission when He would come to this earth:
Isaiah 61:1-3: “The Spirit of the Lord God has taken control of me! The Lord has chosen and sent me to tell the oppressed the good news, to heal the brokenhearted, and to announce freedom for prisoners and captives. This is the year when the Lord God will show kindness to us and punish our enemies. The Lord has sent me to comfort those who mourn, especially in Jerusalem.”*

In this next passage we see Jesus in the synagogue formally announcing His mission and ministry for all—including the Pharisees and Sadducees. Jesus opened the scroll and read from the passage that we just read in Isaiah:
Luke 4:18, 19: “The Lord’s Spirit has come to me, because he has chosen me to tell the good news to the poor. The Lord has sent me to announce freedom for prisoners, to give sight to the blind, to free everyone who suffers, and to say, ‘This is the year the Lord has chosen.’”

Let’s take a look at what Jesus was saying. This is the first time He publicly and formally announced His ministry here on earth. His mission was fivefold:

1. Preach good news to the poor.
2. Proclaim freedom for the prisoners.
3. Give sight to the blind.
4. Release the oppressed.
5. Proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Remember, Jesus was making clear that He as the Messiah was not there to build a flashy violent kingdom that would free the Jews from Roman rule. Jesus didn’t come to focus on helping and hanging out with the elite. Instead, Jesus came to look out for all people, specifically focusing on those segments of society that were forgotten, weak, sick, or who couldn’t stand up for themselves (some examples of this would be homeless people, widows, orphans, prisoners, etc.). This made some people really mad. So much so that they wanted to kill Him!

In this next passage of Scripture, Jesus is making absolutely clear why He hates it when people try to make it on their own steam and change the mission of the church to what they think the church should or shouldn’t do. Just some background: the Pharisees and the Sadducees were the spiritual leaders in their day. Jesus has had multiple dealings with them. They have consistently tried to trick Him into saying something to perjure Himself. Incidentally, these religious leaders have already planned multiple times to kill Jesus. Let’s see what Jesus has to say to them regarding what they think is important versus what He thinks is important:

Matthew 23:23-26: “You Pharisees and teachers are show-offs, and you’re in for trouble! You give God a tenth of the spices from your garden, such as mint, dill, and cumin. Yet you neglect the more important matters of the Law, such as justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These are the important things you should have done, though you should not have left the others undone either. You blind leaders! You strain out a small fly but swallow a camel. You Pharisees and teachers are show-offs, and you’re in for trouble! You wash the outside of your cups and dishes, while inside there is nothing but greed and selfishness. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of a cup, and then the outside will also be clean.”

Don’t miss it. Jesus is upset because these are the leaders that everybody looks up to for them to set the example both by their life and by their words. But what were they doing? They were being total hypocrites. They would give a tenth (a tithe) of all their personal spices, but they would do nothing to help the poor, hurting, or those who had been treated unfairly. Again, Jesus is getting on the religious leaders because they would typically take linen gauze, or probably something similar to cheesecloth, and strain gnats or flies out of their food and drink (because those bugs were unclean), but they themselves were unclean inside! Such hypocrisy! The bottom line is this: If we as Christians know better, we should do better.

Social injustice should make us angry, and we should do something about it. As Christians we should let our love inform how we interact with those people in our sphere of influence who are poor, helpless, sick, imprisoned, or who aren’t in any position to help us or do something for us in return for our kind acts. We can’t expect non-Christians to do something for them, because they’re typically too wrapped up in themselves. That’s who sinners are: they’re selfish. But Christians aren’t selfish—at least we’re not supposed to be!

So let me ask you something: What kind of Christian are you? Are you the kind who talks more than acts? Are you like the Pharisees and Sadducees who got so upset with Jesus and tried to kill Him because He was serving people—I mean really serving them, asking nothing from them in return and making the leaders look bad as a result? Do you get upset or jealous when you see the good deeds that others are doing for others? Or do you feel guilty? If you do, what do you do with that guilt? Do you reassess things and then do something positive, something to help somebody?

You may not have access to somebody who is physically sick, or a widow, or an orphan, or someone in jail, but ask yourself this: Whom has God placed within your circle of influence? Are there friends you could help? Is there some kind of homeless shelter you could volunteer at? Is there someone younger than you whom you could mentor? Is there someone older than you whom you could visit or help—or just call to check in on them? How about those students who aren’t that popular? Or those who are socially awkward and are bullied all the time? Is there something you can do?

Jesus said of Christians, “You are the light of the world.” But did you know that He also called us salt? In Matthew 5:13 Jesus said: “You are like salt for everyone on earth. But if salt no longer tastes like salt, how can it make food salty? All it is good for is to be thrown out and walked on.” What kind of salt are you? Do you taste like salt or just look like it? Are you the real thing? If you are, don’t wait to be thrown out because you’re no longer useful; it’s time for Christians to get out of the saltshaker and into the food!

Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omarmiranda@earthlink.net; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at www.insightmagazine.org; or you can check me out or send me a message at my Web site, thriveatlife.org; or you can reach me via snail mail (slow!) at the address printed below.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, certified Christian counselor

Abundant Life Ministries
155 Earl Street
Plainville, GA 30733
Phone: 1-770-354-2912

*Scripture quotations in this article are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright © American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.

Omar Miranda is a Christian counselor with 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes





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