Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Some tough teachings

My quiet time today found me reading John 6.  I've read this chapter countless times, but some things stuck out at me today that I don't remember before.  The Bible works that way.  You can read the same verse time and time again, and each time it can apply to your life differently, or mean so much more, depending on what is going on in your life at the time.

Today as I read I had in my head the grumblings I've been hearing more and more lately.  People of my generation and the generations coming after mine are grumbling about the church.  I even hear people who I know to be believers grumbling and questioning.  Maybe not questioning their faith, though some are, but questioning the tactics of the church, the bible and other believers.  This has really got me thinking.  I know in the end times many "false Christs" will rise up, deceiving the nations.  To some extent that is what is happening.  The cross is hard and people are finding other "prettier" ways to get around it.  People are offended at the Bible, even those who grew up loving and trusting it.  

As I read John 6 today a few verses stuck out at me.  Let me set the scene.  Jesus had just fed the 5,000.  The next day people came back to Him, wanting more physical fulfillment.  They weren't seeking anything spiritual from Jesus. They weren't trying to discover how to get to heaven, how to be a better person, they were simply hungry and wanted more.  This was the easy part.  He had fed them.  They were willing to accept that miracle.  This day was different, however.  He started teaching on things that weren't so easy to accept.  He stepped on a few toes. He laid it all down.  People didn't like this Jesus as much as the one the day before.  See, this Jesus was telling them the truth about themselves, the truth about life, the truth about God.  It was easy to be fed, not so easy to hear what they really needed.

John 6:60 says, "On hearing this, many of the disciples said,  "This is a hard teaching.  Who can accept it?""  --Even some followers of Jesus were having trouble with His message.  
Following Christ isn't easy.  It definitely isn't popular.  But it is worth it.  You can't pick and choose what you do and don't want to believe about Christ, about God, about the Bible.  This is a package deal.  We can't just omit things because they are not politically correct or because they are socially unacceptable.  That's not how it works.  There are going to be times when you have to stand up for things that go against this world.  There are going to be times you have to walk away from things because they go against the Word of God.  But you can't just merely back away when the going gets tough.  Thanks be to God that Jesus didn't.  He could have walked away from the cross, but instead He chose the will of the Father.

John 6:61 says, "Jesus, knowing in Himself that His disciples were complaining about this, asked them, “Does this offend you?”"

Jesus knew His message was hard.  He had told them that He was the one and only way to heaven.  God isn't just some god on a mountain that we're all working our way up to and eventually all get there, no matter what path we take.  No.  He is GOD.  The Almighty.  The One and Only.  He doesn't require that we work our way to Him, instead, He came down to us.  This is Jesus.  This is offensive.  This sounds close-minded and judgmental.  After all, isn't God love?  Absolutely!  But God is also just.  He demands perfection, something none of us can give.  But, because He is love, He allows us to come to Him through His Son, Jesus.  Jesus IS perfect.  When we place our trust in Him God no longer looks at our imperfections, He chooses to see Jesus.

The end of chapter 6 hit me pretty hard.  Verse 66, "From that moment many of His disciples turned back and no longer accompanied Him."  The going got too tough.  His teachings got to be too much.  He was no longer simply being the "loving" God, He was sharing the whole truth, the cold, hard facts.  And they turned away.
There were a few, however, who didn't turn away.  John 6:67, "Therefore Jesus said to the Twelve, “You don’t want to go away too, do you?”"  In 68 Simon Peter responds to Him, "Lord, who will we go to? You have the words of eternal life."

See, Peter got it.  Yes, the teachings are hard.  They are socially and politically incorrect.  You may have to give up things, turn away from things, make a stand when no one else will.  You may lose friends, even family, because of these beliefs... But to whom else would you turn?  Jesus is the only one Who has the words of eternal life.  Period.

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