“Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life'” (John 14:5-6, NIV).
Recently, I was standing in the Sunday morning contemporary church service singing the lyrics of a worship song. It seemed as though we chanted the words of the chorus a few too many times and I began to wonder if these lyrics were even biblical.
Did Jesus come to hold my hand and help me through all my problems? Did he come to make me feel better about myself?
(As happens from time to time on certain subjects on this blog, my teaching starts shifting into preaching and that may be what occurs with this post.)
Some of the worship songs we sing in our dimly-lit contemporary church services seem to romanticize the love of God beyond what is biblical. Please don’t think I’m against contemporary Christian music as I listen to it frequently and have my own digital tunes collection. I’m just questioning the theology presented in some of the choruses we mindlessly sing in church.
“For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.” (Luke 7:33-35, ESV).
John the Baptist sent some of his disciples to Jesus to find out if He was the Messiah. When they asked if He was the Messiah, Jesus did not answer them explicitly. Rather, He sent them back to John with this message: “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me” (Luke 7:22-23, ESV).
But Jesus explicitly identified John as the one whom the prophet Malachi described as the messenger who would prepare the way when the day of the Lord comes. Although this explanation of John’s ministry satisfied many of the people in the crowd of people following Jesus who were also John’s disciples, the Pharisees and scribes rejected His testimony about John because they didn’t believe John the Baptist was sent by God.
Then Jesus points out that God’s purpose is accomplished in multiple ways: John’s abstemious method and Jesus’ intemperate style.
Jesus and John didn’t try to justify their own behavior. They didn’t behave a certain way because it’s the “right” way.
“Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came!” (John 12:27, NLT).
Recently, I’ve been reading Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why. The premise of the book is that successful leaders influence loyalty to a product, movement or idea because they communicate why their organizations exist. According to Sinek, knowing your why is more important than knowing what you do or how you do it. And, knowing your why will help you know what to do and how to do it.
So, apply this on a personal level. What’s your why? Why do you exist? Why do you do what you do?
In a conversation in John 12 that Jesus had with some of His disciples concerning His impending death, He seemed to be very aware of His Why. He knew exactly why He existed and why He did what He did.
“The Lord ’s word came to me: Human one, I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you in a single stroke. Don’t mourn or weep. Don’t even let your tears well up. Sigh inwardly; be deathly still. Don’t perform mourning rites, but bind on your turban and put your shoes on your feet. And don’t cover your upper lip or eat in human company” (Ezekiel 24:15-17, CEB).
Like several of the Old Testament prophets, Ezekiel’s prophecies were often intertwined with his personal life. On one occasion God told Ezekiel that his beloved city of Jerusalem was about to be destroyed. Then, God told Ezekiel his wife was about to die!
And if that wasn’t enough bad news, God told Ezekiel not to mourn over his wife’s death and not even to participate in the rituals of grief and mourning that were a part of that ancient culture. Ezekiel was to keep his grief to himself.
“Simon Peter said, ‘I’m going fishing.’ ‘We’ll come, too,’ they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night” (John 21:3, NLT).
After Jesus’ death and resurrection, He appeared to the disciples and other people several times before He ascended to heaven. On the occasion described in the last chapter of the Gospel of John, Peter and several of the disciples had returned to Galilee and were taking up their old occupation of fishing, and apparently, not being very successful at it.
“My Father who lives in me does his work through me” (John 14:10, NLT).
All right, you’re a Christian. Maybe you have been a Christian for all or most of your life or maybe just for a short time.
Either way, the same nagging question always lingers in the back of your mind: “Lord, what am I supposed to do with my life and with my salvation?”
“Now when David had settled into his palace, he said to Nathan the prophet, ‘Look, I am living in a cedar house while the ark of the Lord’s covenant is under tent curtains'” (1 Chronicles 17: 1, HCSB).
Doesn’t building the temple of God seem like the right thing for a man of God like David to do?
“The Lord gave this message to Ezekiel son of Buzi, a priest, beside the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians, and he felt the hand of the Lord take hold of him” (Ezekiel 1:3, NLT).
The word of the Lord first came to Ezekiel while he was living with the Judean exiles in Babylon.
Ezekiel was a priest by descent and, as such, his primary ministry was offering sacrifices in the Temple in Jerusalem. As one of the exiled Jews, Ezekiel was unable to serve as a priest in the usual ways.
“And I have been chosen as a preacher and apostle to teach the Gentiles this message about faith and truth. I’m not exaggerating—just telling the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:7, NLT).
The Apostle Paul was certain about his calling from God and the message he was supposed to teach and preach.
Paul understood that all his efforts were a part of God’s plans and purposes and so he did it because God called him.
“The Angel of the Lord came, and He sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash, the Abiezrite. His son Gideon was threshing wheat in the wine vat in order to hide it from the Midianites. Then the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior'” (Judges 6:11-12, HCSB).
God sent His personal representative, the Angel of the Lord, to Gideon at Ophrah. Because He was the Angel of the Lord, He spoke with God’s full authority.