Looking at Old Testament heroes really challenges me. It shows me that as followers of Jesus, you and I should be attempting greater things on behalf of the God of the Universe. And while nearly all of our biblical figures made mistakes, they made them within the context of attempting the miraculous. I have tied to make this point over and over in the previous weeks. The Bible consistently shows us ordinary men and women doing extraordinary things by God’s power.
When we are brave and we act on behalf of God out of obedience, we have every reason to expect that God will provide a victory. Psalm 46:1 reads God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. I think our lives would look a whole lot more courageous and obedient if we actually believed that God is our strength.
I was watching a message the other day on youtube by Pastor Carl Lentz and while he challenged me in many ways, much of his message broke down to this. “It doesn’t matter what you say about yourself, or what you do in life, who you are is who Jesus is to you.” -Carl Lentz Who is Jesus to you?
You can’t escape that question. 1. If Jesus is just some guy that lived and taught some great things about how to treat the poor a couple thousand years ago, then that Jesus will have little affect on my day to day life. 2. If Jesus was God, and came to earth, and died on a cross for my sins, was raised to life, and is coming back to judge everyone and to separate those who believe in him from those who reject him, then that Jesus will have a profound impact on my daily living. Who is Jesus? Actually, your life answers that question every single day. We just fail to observe the data and draw logical conclusions. I don’t think we actually want to know.
Most of us say we believe in the second Jesus and live like we believe in the first one. We say we care for the poor, but do little to understand or lessen their plight. We say we want justice, but what we really want is what we think we are owed. I pray I never receive justice which is why I am banking on grace. I deserve justice, justice demands that I pay for my sins myself, I don’t want that. I want grace. If you believe in Jesus, live like you do. If Jesus is just some radical teacher then you are free to live under whatever bondage you choose to place yourself under.
When it comes to who Jesus really is to us, it often revealed in our willingness to obey Him. Who Jesus actually is to us will most often be revealed in how we respond when He call us to do something difficult.
When God called Jonah, his actions revealed that he had little faith that God would keep him safe. It is interesting as I look at this story. God had a message of the Ninevites and he wanted Jonah to deliver it. When Jonah heard God speak, there was no mention of Jonah’s well being. I would guess that Jonah would have been more obedient had God said, “And by the way, you are going to live through this.” But no such promise was made. The fact that Jonah might die was a real possibility. As I said on Sunday, Jonah’s response to run from God was not an obedient one, but it was a rational one.
I think we are more willing to obey Jesus when we get a guarantee of safe passage. But God doesn’t often tell us how it is going to turn out, he just tell us how and when to obey.
In what ways can you be more obedient when God puts a challenge in front of you?
Do you find yourself looking for guarantees of success when you are deciding whether or not to follow God’s call on your life?