Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Jesus Gives Goodies to Shut You Up -and Down

If Jesus HAS BEEN raised from the dead - and is REALLY alive now - should we follow Him?

I think the obvious answer is yes. The real problem is that having mastered life and conquered death, Jesus sees no need to chase us down and force us to follow Him.

He does, however, admit we may need a nudge or two. And can I tell you the scary and wonderful thing about Jesus Christ, if you have EVER been baptized or professed faith and THEN gave up on Christendom? [You knooooooowww - stopped praying so much, stopped going to church, stopped trying to be 'oh-so-good' -].

He'll let you. For awhile. Maybe even a long time. Decades even. There is NOWHERE in the Bible where Jesus petulantly demands your return to following Him and His ways. No sir.

In fact, just about the opposite.

And even more scary, He will give you what you demand as a permissive parent if you are NOT praying "Lord, keep me close to you." You have to push the 'Please sanctify me daily' button.

The problem is, we tend to revert into self-protecting, judgmental or critical cynics who look to the world going to Hell in a hand basket and moan at all the poverty, injustice, cruelty, crime, warfare and then whine "WHY doesn't a LOVING God DO anything about this??!"

May I tell you God is nearly laughing in heaven when you whine like that?

He did everything at the cross.

You wanted to leave His service, so He let you. Others, the same. Or maybe they just never believed they were created by a Real Designer and paid for by a Real Redeemer? So they never call on Him for help? Well, if you do believe, then telling others is part of your growth as a Christian.

So God makes a public spectacle of Jesus on the cross, it echoes through history and even in Christendom, and STILL less than 1% want to share the Good News that sins are forgiven by God. Why? Because they also know in their hearts that it means facing into Christ, admitting their own rebellion and disbelief and then having to take on a Jew as their King. As the Lord of ALL Creation.

As the Guy Who Owns You and Can Judge You When You Die.

We think we can skirt encountering Jesus. We cannot.

Why do we think so? Is it because He is weak and powerless?

No. Just the opposite.

Because He really does have all power. He knows "where you live" [I mean the emotional metaphor, not location here]. He knows you are quite used to being fearful, being 'like everyone else' and being your own Boss.

All that is a false view - you really are not - yet He will bless you almost as you flee, just to show you He is NOT a stingy, control freak of a God. He is a Sovereign king who can find you anywhere, anytime. Nothing can stop Him. You? Not so much.

Look, it is really simple. When Jesus rose from the dead, and was given the keys of Heaven and Hell - you know, so He can put anyone anywhere He chooses - He gets an opportunity to really pound on His disciples. Really stick it to them, guilt-trip them and make them feel utterly ashamed for implying He was a liar or a loser, by 'giving up' on Him.

He doesn't. He knows He does not need to. He even gives them what they WANT, knowing that by so doing, they cannot refuse His love anymore. They want fish, He gives them fish.

He patiently waits for them at the Sea of Galilee after His resurrection - and I suspect He is sighing to Himself, thinking "Well, O.K. guys, if we have to go all the way back to the beginning..."

They haven't caught any fish. All #$%*%$ night, and no fish.

Jesus asks them about it.

They confess yeah, we ain't doing so hot.

"Throw your net on the other side, and you will get some!"

They do - and they can BARELY haul in the goodies. "Even with so many the net was not torn!" writes John. He even gives a number. Only a poor fisherman would be excited enough to count each and every one.

They wanted fish. They got fish. And that is how Jesus got them.

By the time they eat breakfast with Him, and there is not ONE word of condemnation - nope, Jesus is testing Peter's heart, not busting his chops - Jesus has these men eating out of the palm of His hand. Literally.

He knew it would be tough for them to accept He was alive. He knew it would take decades to understand fully what had happened. He knew they were going to get hurt and killed, but not by Him - by a cruel and unbelieving world that did not even think "truth" existed. ["What is truth?" asked Pilate, remember?]

So He smiles and helps them out and cooks breakfast and asks 'Do you love Me?'

And when Peter says 'Yes!' [and is soooo ashamed of his earlier behavior] Jesus consoles him with a gentle order of business: "Feed my sheep."

Not "conquer new lands for Me", not "Kill the infidels!", not "bring lots of money in or I will bring you home!" just "feed my sheep."

And do you see what is implied by Jesus?

"Like I am feeding you Peter right now: closely, friendly-like, intimately, gently."

Look, if you want to do your own thing, I understand. We humans have been doing that since the Fall of Mankind. It is right there in the Bible. But if you WANT to follow Jesus and you are scared, just keep in mind two things.

One, He will take good care of you and your particular neurosis/obsession.

Two, He has never wanted anything but to bring you glory as a son or daughter of God. In other words, you serve Him and people will be talking about YOU.

And YOU will stop talking about them.
"Lord, what about him?"
[sigh] "If I want him to remain ALIVE until I come again, what is that to you? You follow Me!"
Follow Jesus.

Everything else is, frankly my friends, dumb.

Amen.

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