After four years of pastoring a storefront church, I’m still dumbstruck at the fact that very few of the members of our church really grasp our mission. (Kind of like Jesus’s disciples didn’t get the Suffering Messiah bit).
What’s even stranger t
o me is that they don’t really understand me. They’ve claimed that they did and pledged their loyalty and support, but their words and actions (or lack thereof) tell me otherwise. (Kind of like Jesus’s disciples didn’t initially buy His servant leadership).
I was reminded of this as recently as last night. The one who was supposed to be teaching “Bible study” spent the majority of the time trying to cast doubt on my character, doctrine and leadership ability. It wasn’t even done subtly; he “made an example” out of me before the entire listening audience. (Kind of like Jesus and the Pharisees).
What did I say in response? Nada. Zero. Not a mumbling word. (Kind of like Jesus was silent before Pilate at the judgment seat).
What would have been the point? Obviously (to him anyway), I’m a fake. Anything I might have said was not going to change his opinion of me. (kind of like Jesus’s critics then and now).
Not that this is anything new to me. Ever since I was a young boy, I’ve been
seen as “suspect” (meaning not what I appear to be). As a result, I learned not to open myself up easily to those who might mean me harm. (Kind of like Jesus didn’t commit Himself to people completely).
But this guy is not some public enemy; he’s a leader in my congregation. (Kind of like Peter denying he knew Jesus or Judas betraying Jesus to the Roman soldiers with a kiss of friendship).
I hurt – not only for myself, but for him. I know in attempting to disparage me, he hurt his own credibility. Only he doesn’t have a clue. I know this because he came to me afterwards and asked me to consider letting him “teach” more often. Talk about turning the other cheek!!
Maybe one day, when he and I both stand before our Maker, we’ll see each other for who we truly were while we were down here. In the meantime, I’m praying for both of us. For him, I’m praying that he’ll learn and do better; for myself I’m praying that I will remember that I am better because of having to endure this.
Kind of like Jesus. That’s what I’m after.
Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if every person on the planet became focused on the single, most important pursuit in life – which is a relationship with the Divine?
This relationship is the very thing for which mankind was created and for which Jesus commanded us to search in Matthew 6:33. He said, “But seek first the kingdom (fellowship of and submission to) of God and His righteousness (completion and wholeness by faith), and all these other things (possessions, self-worth, positive relationship with others) shall (must) be added (included in due time) unto you.”
Our problem as human beings is that most of us never become/remain THAT focused on finding and maintaining our primary relationship with our Creator. Instead, the majority of us spend almost an entire lifetime searching endlessly (and futily) for satisfaction apart from Him. Even the most devout human beings tend to become distracted from time to time, allowing temporal, tangible trinkets to successfully tempt and divert us away from eternal, intangible truths which are valuable and beneficial both now and forever.
Such distractions are what life is made all about (so it seems). Yet things are seldom what they seem. The reality is that until we become and stay focused on the “straight and narrow” way that leads to this higher consciousness, we will travel a “broad way” that leads – figuratively and literally – to our own destruction (which, in my opinion, is any way that results inunfulfilled potential and regret).
Jesus both taught and demonstrated what a lifelong, focused, intimate and purposeful relationship with God can be. He also said such a relationship only comes by a complete, full surrender of one’s self and own agenda. At first, such demands may seem unreasonable and too costly, but (again) things are seldom what they appear to be. The reality is that it IS worth giving up EVERYTHING to pursue and obtain this most wonderful, fulfilling relationship.
The apostle Paul wrote, “Forgetting those things which are behind me, and seeking those things which are before me, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God which is in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:15-16).
It’s ALL for Him, or it’s all for NOTHING. With God, it’s NEVER for NOTHING.