November 14, 2011
Over the past year I have been seeing Scripture in a different way since the staff, along with myself, went to the Catalyst Conference in October of 2011. Don’t get me wrong, I am still using correct hermeneutics, but Scripture has been speaking to me differently lately. We were able to hear dynamic speakers including Andy Stanley, Francis Chan, Craig Groeschel, Perry Noble, and T.D. Jakes just to name a few. The theme of their messages was "Tension is Good." Tension IS good. But we cannot walk away when the tension begins. We cannot walk away when we read Scripture and feel tension coming upon us.
Like I said, I have been hearing God speak to me in a different way. Let me explain. Over the past 2 years I have been reading through the entire Bible since I have never done that before. It has been a long journey but well worth it! Along with this process, I have also read the books Crazy Love, Forgotten God, Erasing Hell, The Christian Atheist, Radical and I am presently reading Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman, I was challenged. And when reading books from another person’s perspective, it challenges me to actually say to myself, does the Bible REALLY say those words. Then I look them up (and I hope you do as well). God is a God that never contradicts himself. Let me give you an example.
In John 6, Jesus just fed around 20,000 people (We know for sure 5,000 men but not sure if their wives and children were present.) with 5 barley loaves of bread and 2 fish. Everyone was happy like we are after a great meal and this one was made by Jesus. These people have been following Him for a while and had seen and heard Him many times. Jesus then “withdrew” from them, went and walked on the water (wow), and then went to the other side of the lake. The next day, the crowd realized He was no longer on their side of the lake and pursued after him. When they “found” Him, Jesus said in John 6:26, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.”
How many times in our lives do we pursue after Jesus just to get our fill? He knows our heart better than ourselves. Sometimes that can be really scary. Most times we have our guard up or have our “church” face on when it is appropriate and say the right things to the right people at the right time to “seem spiritual” but we are transparent to Jesus. He knows our motives behind what we are thinking and WANT(ing).
As we continue the story, the crowd wants the bread that Jesus is teaching them about. We see Jesus tell the crowd in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Jesus was telling them seek after me NOT my miracles. They were missing the point to what Jesus was saying as we continue to read (I hope you have your Bible out following along, if not GO GET IT).
As we continue in John 6:60 the sad part of the story happens, “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, this is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” Jesus knew what they were saying and asked them, “Does this offend you?” What if he said this in our culture, the culture of tolerance? I guess many were offended because we see in verse 66, “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”
Like I said, this is the sad part of the story. But here is the point I am getting to. We see Jesus say in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Jesus continues in chapter 7 saying, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
I pray that you do not think I am trying to scare you because I am not. Hebrews 4:12-13 says, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” The Apostle Peter tells us in his first letter, chapter 3:17-18, “For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.”
To close, what is our ultimate goal in life? We are to be a DISCIPLE of Jesus Christ--that is what our ultimate goal is in this life. Jesus tells us how in Luke 9:23-24, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves (of our wants…hard in America) and take up their cross daily (ultimate humiliation) and follow me (simple words). For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it” (parentheses mine). I pray that you will continue in the “grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ” as you WORSHIP God, CONNECT to OTHERS and SERVE the world for Him. Then on that day, He will say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”