Here are the BIG questions I am tackling this week as I prepare for Sunday’s message:
Why are you in church?
Why are you calling yourself a Christian?
Why do you claim to follow Christ?
John 6 will be my text. As we continue in our MULTIPLY series, and then with that look toward Lent, these are HUGE questions Jesus has for those who “follow” him.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. (John 15:4)
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:24-26)
The source of life for others comes in the death of some seed. Something had to die. Pride. Ego. Even a literal life laid down. Something was surrendered. Something was given over. Something died.
When I will live out the fullness of Rom. 12:1-2 and put my life on the line every day, willing to allow death to my own systems, there is the possibility of multiplication. What am I willing to do? Not for MY life, but for the life of the Kingdom?
16 You didn’t choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you could go and produce fruit and so that your fruit could last. As a result, whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. (John 15:16)
Father, you have empowered me. You have chosen me. I am empowered to bear lasting fruit.
What I need for resources, you have. I am to ASK. You, my Father, will supply.
The Gospel of John has some great “I AM” statements of Jesus. (“I am the light of the world.” “I am the Way, the Truth, the Life.”)
Last night the Lord had me revisit each chapter and make prayerful notes of where I am in that story. They weren’t all positive declarations. There were those moments where I knew I was the one caught in sin (John 8:1-12). There are those “I am” statements for me. There are also the statements of faith, such as John 15 where “I am abiding in his presence.” There are statements of longing, such as John 9 where “I am blind and in need of his touch to see.”
It is a walk of faith to pray some of these statements. There are prayers of confession and prayers of powerful declaration.
Where do you find yourself in this story?
John 5 gives us the story of the lame man healed at the Pool of Bethesda. The real problem the Jewish leadership had was… horrors! … Jesus healed on the SABBATH.
They were so concerned about Sabbath breaking they missed the larger point of actually helping someone.
Each of us, regardless of our theological leanings, have this temptation in us. We cut to the rules and find the rules we like to harp on and then we camp right there waiting for someone to trip over the rules, or our narrow theological definitions, or (place your issue here) and then we pounce.
For some theological circles, it’s upsetting if I hang out with homosexuals and call them my friends. For some theological/political circles, it is anathema that I mention Israel possibly doing something wrong in the current situation in Gaza.
For some, it’s upsetting to buy a sandwich at Chik-Fil-A, or buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks, or shop at Target…
In each case I could hear shouted out at me, “YOU SABBATH BREAKER!”
I have yelled it at times myself. It’s fun. It gets a lot of energy out. I feel a bit more superior… and RIGHT.
Which brings me to the point… and I do have one.
We are far more concerned (and I speak to “right,” “left,” or whatever stripe of theology you may bear) with being RIGHT than being RIGHTEOUS. We become consumed with winning the argument rather than being the apprentice to Jesus like we are called. We hesitate to help a Muslim or a homosexual or a Republican (I won’t let anyone off the hook. I’m an equal opportunity offender) because we fear someone wagging a religious finger at us and yelling, “SABBATH BREAKER!”
God help us to DO righteousness. To DO justice and to LOVE mercy! THEN we will know God!
Philip wanted to see the Father. He basically says to Jesus, “Okay, just show us the Father! That will be enough!”
Jesus basically says back, “Have you not been paying attention at all?”
We have our mindset of what it would be like for Jesus to “show up,” so when Jesus finally DOES come by and reveals himself to us, if it’s not precisely in our definition of what that looks like… we may just miss him!
Let us pay attention to how the SPIRIT wants to move among our lives today! Let our ears be open to his voice and let our expectations be minimized so we can experience the fullness of God’s Spirit moving among us. Spirit, surprise us today!