Archive for April, 2017
“For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay” (Hebrews 10:37).
Perspective shapes all of life’s events; whether positive or negative; good or bad; constructive or destructive. Perhaps the greatest need for perspective is in regard to time. In a microwavable, instant pot, google, “click here” kind of culture; accustomed to instant results and answers, God’s timing can be a point of frustration. The promises of God that are coming in a very little while; the assurances that will not delay, these are not based upon our understanding of time but God’s. It means they may not occur in accordance to your calendar, or even in the span of your lifetime. They are guaranteed, however, within the eternal perspective of God’s redemptive purposes.
“So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, ‘Your son lives’; and he himself believed and his whole household” (John 4:53).
While it was not uncommon for the remaining members of a household to dutifully convert once the patriarch of the family did so, such supposed conversions are sustained only by an authentic, transformational encounter with the resurrected and exalted Christ. This kind of faith experience is contagious; influencing family, friends, and all those with whom we interact on a daily basis. Our every encounter is a significant link in God’s siren call to others. We all have a part in faith being either replicated or rejected.
“Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your son lives.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off” (John 4:50).
A remarkable faith is one that does not require signs and wonders, but simply believes the word Jesus speaks. The purpose of John’s gospel was to offer a sampling of the things Jesus said and did for the purpose of bringing readers to a place of belief (20:30-31). Like the royal official, a simple belief in the testimony of Jesus’ words is a sufficient starting place for the life of faith.
“So Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe’” (John 4:48).
Though scripture offers a rich record of signs and wonders executed by God, such displays have never elicited the kind of faith desired by our Lord. In fact, he rebukes the longings for such “proofs.” Too many are interested in a show of the spectacular, and too few in showing up and answering the call of faithful obedience.
“but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Notice, Jesus didn’t say, “You shall do witnessing.” He said, “You shall be My witnesses.” Doing is a product of being. When it comes to witnessing and evangelism, what is of utmost importance is being one before doing the work of one. Of first importance as followers of Jesus is to live obediently; that the fruit of the Spirit is borne out in such a way as to make the life of faith contagious and appealing. Emerson said it well: “What you are speaks so loud, I cannot hear what you say.”
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16).
I followed the lead of my one cousin who dared to dive headlong into the cold waters of my grandparents spring-fed tank. The youngest cousin stayed out completely, declaring the waters too cold to be enjoyable. Another waded in up to her waist, teeth chattering, refusing to go any further. Being half in and half out is a miserable place to be. Yet, many professing believers find themselves in that very position of precariousness. They are lukewarm, indifferent, detached, unconcerned, and uninvolved in the work of God. Be one or the other — hot or cold, in or out, light or dark. Nothing is more miserable than half in and half out.
“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:6).
The lofty expectation set before us in the life of faith is none other than God the Father, himself; that we are to imitate him (5:1). In the subsequent verses, Paul lists not only the virtues bearing evidence of that pursuit, but also the destructive behaviors that would detract from it. It’s about the influence we have as followers of Christ. Faith is never just personal; it has a communal impact. We must labor faithfully to close the gap between our confession and our imitation.
“and they were saying to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world’” (John 4:42).
Jesus engages a woman at a well in conversation, who then goes and talks to others about Jesus, who then come to a place of belief. Who would have imagined so much activity, influence, and transformation from, seemingly, such a casual encounter initiated by a mutual thirst? We must never underestimate even the most casual encounters of the day. Being sensitive enough to set the hook gives Jesus the opportunity to reel them in.
“The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly’” (John 4:16-17).
God’s grace meets us where we are and redeems us in the midst of our present circumstance, but then his word guides us in the paths of how we should then live. To be sure, one isn’t a Christian because they are moral, but a Christian will pursue the moral tenets of God’s word. Arguably, there is nothing more reckless, misleading, and unloving than condoning sin under the banner of grace. To disregard God’s moral precepts is to lose our distinctive identity within an amoral culture that lives by its own desires.
“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father’” (John 4:21).
Like Nicodemus and this Samaritan woman at the well, many are so blinded by the structures and traditions of religious practice that they are unable to see, celebrate, and participate in the fresh working of the Spirit in the present generation. True worship is not bound by geography, architectural structures, ethnicity, forms, methodologies, or preferences. Nor is worship as much our offering to God as it is God’s Spirit drawing us up to him.