Sunday, January 8

What Are We Missing?

Just before Christmas, Claire and I ran into Walmart for some last minute groceries. It was early morning, and the crowds were low. I wasn't prepared for our trip. But, going home to make a list would mean facing a much more crowded store. I couldn't bear the thought. So, we meandered through Walmart as quickly as we could and were so happy to reach the checkout to see no lines anywhere.

Even with no wait, though, our cashier was not happy at all! Halfway through our transaction, another employee got in line behind us and attempted a conversation with our grumpy checker. She asked a question that she may still regret asking to today,

Are you ready for Christmas?

To this simple question, the cashier rolled her eyes and answered with a tone of complete disgust,

No! I don't do this Santa stuff. We do JESUS at my house. We focus on the REAL meaning of Christmas. I ain't studying keeping up with everybody else. If my kids grow up and want to do all that crazy Santa stuff, fine. But, I am not!

I was completely shocked! She was missing the joy of Christmas and in a big way. I shuddered (literally) when she spoke the name of Jesus with hate in her tone. I did send Claire ahead while I whispered to her that I do celebrate the REAL meaning of Christmas. But, we also do Santa at our house. I simply asked her to keep in mind that it would be awful for a child to hear the truth of Santa's non-existence from a grumpy Walmart employee. As I walked away, I really, really wished I'd told her she might SMILE as she reflects on Jesus at Christmas time.

Since that moment, though, my true feelings towards that encounter are of complete sadness. Maybe she was just having a bad morning. But, she represents so many of us as we attempt to share Jesus with the world. We just miss the point!

I was reading in John 5 this morning, and it is a chapter FULL of humanity missing the point. The first part of the chapter tells the story of the man at Bethesda who spent much of his life sitting by a pool of water. Every once in a while, the water would stir. When that happened, the first one in would be healed of sickness/disease. This man couldn't walk, so he never made it into the pool first. One day, though, Jesus stepped onto the scene. He healed the man with only words and asked him to take up his mat and walk away. Hallelujah (right?)! He passed some Pharisees, though, that harassed him for carrying his mat on the Sabbath.

They missed the point!

The remainder of John 5 is red lettered. Jesus was talking to those Jews that were blinded by themselves and needed spiritual vision. He was explaining His relationship to the Father, but they'd already made up their minds. They were seeking to kill Jesus (verse 18). They called their way good. They felt they were protecting people from falsehood and deceit. They saw Jesus only through the lenses of their ignorance and unbelief. Then Jesus said something profound,

You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life.
John 5:39
That's a little scary to me. The Pharisees looked to something good (Scriptures) so heavily that they missed their Savior! The Scriptures were meant to point the way to Jesus; but, because they refused to take off the lenses through which they viewed all of life, they missed out on their redemption and rescue. Jesus healed a man from a lifetime of of paralysis on the spot. He stood up and walked, and they focused on the mat. 

Yesterday, I saw a blog posted on Facebook about worship becoming more about entertainment than praise. The post was directed at Passion 2017 and Carrie Underwood being brought in to sing. It was "judgey" and negative and a little preachy. As I read it, I could picture the author was wearing the same face as my Walmart cashier. I could hear disgust in the tone. And, I was sad. 

She missed the point!

Over 50,000 college students filled conference seats and heard the name of Jesus (probably through smiling lips) proclaimed for three days. Lives were changed in those three days! Students were called to ministry! Others determined to follow hard after Jesus from that day forward. Some were there for the entertainment, sure. But, I believe the Spirit even moved in the hearts of some who showed up for all the wrong reasons. He's a big God, and He can do that!

I serve a God that parts seas, raises the dead, heals the sick, and rescues the fallen. He will call people to Himself however He chooses. He's more creative than I am. He owns everything on this Earth and knows the hearts of every person that inhabits it. When Jesus walked here, many Jews missed Him. They missed out, because He did things differently than they expected. I'm afraid it's happening again. 

The Earth is the Lord's and all that it contains, The world and those who dwell in it.
Psalm 24:1
It's all His! He reserves the right to use the things of this world however He pleases to call His people to Himself. To compartmentalize times, events, people, things, etc. and say they are worldly and entertaining and can't be used to point the lost to Christ is to join forces with the Jews in John 5. That's equivalent to choosing to see the mat on the Sabbath rather than the miracle of Jesus' healing the sick. My God is smarter than I am. He's definitely more creative. And, He can do whatever He pleases. 

Besides, when Jesus ascended into heaven, He left the Holy Spirit that is living and active in every, single, believer (John 16:7). He is our Helper. If we'll look to Him to read scripture, make sense of difficulty, and deal with others, I believe we'll pray more and rant less. 

See, even at our best, we are a bunch of ragamuffins! We won't fully get it this side of Heaven. With the help of the Holy Spirit, though, we have the opportunity to see glimpses of Jesus in all things. He's here! He hasn't left us or forsaken us. He's our teacher. When we get it wrong, He can even use our mistakes to guide us back to His truth. When others get it wrong, He can and will do the same for them. 

All I know for sure is that My God reigns and rules whether I see it or not! I just don't want to miss it!

For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps. 
Psalm 135: 5-6

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