Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Reckless Abandon

Luke 4:22-28
All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. "Isn't this Joseph's son?" they asked.
Jesus said to them, "Surely you will quote this proverb to me: 'Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.' "

"I tell you the truth," he continued, "no prophet is accepted in his hometown. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian."
All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.

I'm getting back into my daily Bible reading. This is part of the passage I was reading last night. I read through it and was actually a bit frustrated at myself because sometimes these stories of Jesus just don't penetrate my heart like I want them to. They kind of bounce off of me and I don't know what I'm supposed to learn from it. Why did Christ walk away at the end of this passage? Is He really that heartless that He would just leave those people like that? So as I was honest with God about my questions and concerns, I asked Him to reveal something to me through this. About Jesus, about me, whatever He wants. And sure enough, I haven't been able to get this passage out of my mind since. And boy has God been revealing!

First of all, this passage reveals the human condition. And I have to realize that Jesus wasn't actually even surprised by their actions. He knew their hearts before He even got there. And knew the cross was necessary for this reason. Look back at what this passage says. First the people were amazed and speaking well of Jesus when He was speaking what they wanted to hear and all the grace coming out of Him. But as soon as He spoke some truths that they didn't want to hear, they wanted to throw Him off a cliff. Suddenly He wasn't that feel-good Jesus that makes everything feel better in a snap that we think He is supposed to be. No, He was being the real Jesus. He is good alright, but He isn't always out to make us feel good if it is to bring us to the place we need to be. We don't know what happened to this group of people after He left, but I like to believe that they were later humbled by what His message of the cross really was if they ever were to hear it again...which brings me to my next point...Jesus' heart for relationship.
He was looking for people Who wanted a relationship with Him. And as soon as He was rebuked, He moved on to find someone who would follow Him. But did He leave them with a hard heart? No He left them knowing that soon after, the cross would take care of His relationship with them. He knew the story wasn't over. And as we know, there were only a select few out of His disciples who did actually follow Him all the way to the cross for shear loyalty. Most everyone else nailed Him there.

Wow! Is it just me or can you relate to this wishy-washy way of living and supposedly "following" Christ? We want feel-good Christianity...not the kind that requires us to abandon all our desires and dreams so we can follow Christ simply for Who He is and not what He might do for us. The second we don't hear what we want or don't have our prayers answered, or are asked of something too hard, we just want to "throw Him off a cliff" and abandon Him first to "protect ourselves" from anymore hurt. And we only know where that leads us.

Last Sunday night at church we had an awesome discussion about what Christianity really involves. And when it is said to take up our cross and follow Him, taking up our cross means to deny our own selfish wants and desires for His. They were traded out at the cross anyways so what are we holding on to? Our flesh was crucified ALONG with it's passions and desires way back then. We can't hold on to the flesh and the cross at the same time...and follow Jesus. It just doesn't work that way. That was a huge revelation for me. Not a new one, but a fresh reminder of how skewed my view has been. But the good news is that we have freedom to choose to pursue what He was out to accomplish and that is ultimately to have unbroken relationship and fellowship with Him....if we choose. I guess the way to know if we are messing it up is if we are putting things we want ahead of having a relationship with God? I'm sure all of us can think of something. We're human and we live in a fallen world. The first commandment says to have no other Gods before Him...we mess that up daily. But there is no condemnation in this because the cross took care of our human, worldy condition. Therefore we can choose to follow Him today and every day so He can show us what the cross accomplished. I know I haven't seen enough of that in my own life...but know I'd like to.

All in all, are we asking God to follow us? Are we trying to "throw Him off a cliff" because He didn't tell us what we wanted? Or are we willing to jump of the cliff with Him and whole-heartedly follow Him?


Jackie said...

Hey Beth!

I stumbled across your site tonight and so glad I did! This is a great post and one I think everyone should read! And, Amen....We should be following Him for who He is and not what He might do for them!

Oh, I joined His Beloved and hope you'll stop by Fresh Oil Today for a visit!

Sweet Blessings!

Sam's Thots said...

I enjoy your reflections and find myself often drawn to your blog when my heart is heavy with burden. Reading your insights and seeing you put to words my own inner conflict is refreshing. Thank you. God Bless.