“Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven” (Luke 10:20).
Too often our sense of joy is determined by the successes or failures of the moment. As excited as the disciples were that the demons were subject to them, Jesus offers the reminder that this is but a present tense moment. A more enduring joy is to be found not in the success of right now, but the security that is ours for all eternity; not in what is but what is to come.
“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you — unless indeed you fail the test” (2 Corinthians 13:5)?
The most difficult examination to be faced isn’t in an academic setting, but rather, it is the self-examination of one’s own life and faith. What drives you? Some explain away their reckless and careless lifestyles to peer pressure. It’s a victim’s mentality. The disciples of Jesus do not have peer pressure, we create peer pressure. We are not a cowering down, defensive stronghold. We are a bold and principled army; infiltrating our world as an offensive movement. Spiritual maturity recognizes that the life of faith isn’t just a response to the offering of God’s grace, but it embraces also the responsibilities of obedience, influence, and accountability.
“Nevertheless the righteous will hold to his way, and he who has clean hands will grow stronger and stronger” (Job 17:9).
The life of faith is a forward call offering little, if any, latitude for the energy draining, time wasting, production killing emotions of sentiment and nostalgia. Conversations about the past, and the way things use to be, offer a sense of security to the one lamenting only because it is familiar ground that has already plowed; a path that has been experienced and survived. While a retro-view of life seems to offer a womb of security and familiarity, it is but a tomb for those called to walk by faith into a capricious and uncertain future. Speak a language of hope and confidence in the One who said, “Behold I am making all things new.”
“Examine me, O Lord, and try me; test my mind and heart” (Psalm 26:2).
Ego will not allow you to earnestly pray this prayer. While most err in thinking themselves a good judge of others, none of us do well in judging and evaluating ourselves. Our ego-centric existence blinds us to the greater realities that exist; that others are not the blame for our malady; that we are the virus of our own sickness. Ego is the featherbed offering comfort to the soul that refuses to grow, mature, and be transformed.
“So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, ‘It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for your to carry your pallet’” (John 5:10).
Sick religion preoccupies itself with rules and regulations, rituals and familiar customs, at the expense of human need and the advancement of the Kingdom. That the religious establishment was more concerned about the weight of a pallet than the weight of God acting miraculously in the life of one lame 38 years indicates how sick their religion had become. A dynamic faith that allows God to work outside our familiar processes and personal preferences is to be desired over a static religion that exists with no expectation of renewal.
“Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, pick up your pallet and walk’” (John 5:8).
While salvation is certainly the product of God’s grace, nonetheless, by its very nature the life of faith engenders a sense of responsibility. What was true of the lame man miraculously made well is no less true of the church. Padded pews can easily become the pallet upon which we sit and watch the world go by. We, too, must get up, pick up, and walk out of our sanctuary if we are to truly discover the wellness and life of missional service God would desire for us.
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Would you be surprised to discover that Jesus was a man whose life was filled with joy? He was a man of deep convictions and delightful disposition. His influence is revealed with every turned page of the gospels. The masses flocked to him; children loved him; sinners found an audience with him. He lifted the spirits of the broken-hearted. His presence was infectious and transforming. He really knew how to light up a room.