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Friday, February 24, 2012

Not a Fan, but a Follower - Matthew - pages 252-259

John is sitting in prison waiting to be beheaded.  Like anyone who pours there life into a good cause, he was expecting a kickback.  Who could blame him?  He has spent his whole life sacrificing for God as the voice of one crying in the wilderness.  He was a zealot of the highest order, devout to beat the band.  In every human sense, he deserved special treatment and honorable mentions.  This was Jesus boy.  He was "the man".


And yet, when he was thrown into prison awaiting his imminent beheading, he had some questions creeping in that he wanted to ask Jesus.  They are questions of entitlement that any human being would have who feels God owes them something for their good behavior.


 2When John heard in prison what Christ was doing(in Galilee), he sent his disciples to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"

Why did he ask this question?  Because he’s a human…not a hero.  

We are all humans…people.

Have you ever had someone ask you a question, when they are really making a statement?  That’s what’s going on here.

**Make no mistake, John knew that Jesus was the ONE…
-       He leapt in his mother’s womb when Elizabeth and Mary were pregnant and met with each other.
-       When asked who he was by religious leaders, he quickly responded, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, preparing the way from the Lord.” Jn. 1:23
o   (Is 40:3) - ‘A voice cries in the wilderness “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God”’
-       When it came time for Jesus to start his earthly ministry, John saw him coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world!”
-       He was the one whom Jesus asked to baptize him at the commencement his 3 years of public ministry.
-       At that baptism, he heard the voice of God shout from the sky, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.  Listen to Him.”  He also saw the Spirit of God take on the form of a dove and lightning, and hover over the place where Jesus was immersed in the river.
-       He was the one who uttered the powerful phrase, “He must increase, I must decrease.”

"Are you the one who was to come,
or should we expect someone else?"

I can’t believe how quickly expectancy turns into expectations.
We go from being Grateful to feeling Grated.
We move from overjoyed to annoyed over time.
We devolve from selfless to selfish.
We digress from Christ-o-centric to Egocentric.

No matter how hard you try not to care, It’s hard not to be offended when you feel like you’ve poured your life into the Kingdom and God doesn’t give you special treatment…
…a back stage pass.
…a package of fringe benefits.
…a free ride.
…a payoff.

Our motivations start very well-meaning, altruistic and generous.  Then ever so slowly they devolve into actions done for praise, attention, and honorable mentions.  We say we don’t care about who gets the glory, but deep inside, we are counting credits at the end of the movie to see if our name is scrolling in bold italicized letters.  We almost can’t help it from happening in our flesh. 

“Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

In other words…"WHY AREN’T YOU SHOWING UP FOR ME AFTER I'VE SHOWN UP FOR YOU???  If I had my druthers…you would get me out of this predicament…this pickle."

I’m sitting in prison…what are you doing in Galilee?
I’m about to get beheaded…when are you going to get me out of here?
I’ve done a lot of amazing things for you…all I’m asking is for you to return the favor.
Correct me if I’m wrong…but don’t you owe me something after all I’ve done for you?

I love this simple quote:

Nobody can be kinder than the narcissist while you react to life in his terms.  
                                                                                                      - Elizabeth Bowen

**Jesus goes on to say in verse 4…

4"Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.

Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."

“Blessed are those who don’t fall away on account of me.”
-       Bless are those who don’t fall away because of me.
-       Blessed are those who don’t fall away when I don’t follow their instructions.
-       Blessed are those who don’t fall away because I don’t fulfill their expectations.
-       Blessed are those who don’t fall away when I don’t answer their every prayer in the affirmative.
-       Blessed are those who don’t fall away when I don’t show up at their every beck and call.
-       Blessed are those who don’t fall away because I won’t follow their plans.
-       Blessed are those who don’t fall away when they find out their not in the driver’s seat.
-       Blessed are those who don’t fall away when suffering comes and I don’t immediately rescue them out of it.
-       Blessed are those who don’t fall away because they aren’t getting their way. (SPOILED)


Have you ever thought…
“Maybe I should be looking for someone else…
cause Jesus isn’t behaving.”
_______________________

Let me ask you something…. “What do you do when Jesus doesn’t behave?  When he doesn’t mind you very well?  When he doesn’t respond to your prescribed expectation?”

The subliminal message of American Christianity is that you snap your fingers, or tap your little ruby red shoes, or rub your little ancient lamp, or stick a quarter in your spiritual vending machine and POW! Shazam!  Jesus is at your beck and call, fanning you and feeding you grapes.

It’s so easy to want Jesus as long as he gives me what I want…


I’ll tell you what I see in myself and in a lot of other American Christians…
-       I see people exiting stage-left when they discover they aren’t the central personality in the gospel story.
-       I see people bailing out when they don’t get their way.
-       I see people questioning Jesus whenever they run into calamity.
-       I see people leaving the church when it doesn’t meet their specific needs.
-       I see people giving up on prayer if they don’t get their desired outcome.
-       I see people following Jesus with the condition they get something out of it.
-       I see people drawn to stick around so long as Jesus behaves.

**And I think what Jesus is looking for is someone who will say: “I’ll give my life to you, no strings attached, no small letters at the bottom of the contract, no disclaimers. NO more following you on my terms.  I’ll follow you for you.” 

 As John's disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the windIf not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:

   'I will send my messenger ahead of you,
      who will prepare your way before you.'
11 I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

**What were you drawn to when you went to see John?…
1.    “A reed swayed by the wind?” – Someone who was a people pleaser.
2.    “A man dressed in fine clothes?” – Someone who was slick and professional.
- “John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt
around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.” – Matt. 3:4
3.    “A prophet.” – Someone who was a visionary and a mouthpiece of God.

Jesus goes on to say…
12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.

The Greek word for forceful is the same root word for violent.  It carries with it the idea of a clashing, a crashing.  Something marked by intensity or great emotional force.

The kingdom of God isn’t for the faint of heart.  It’s not for the dropouts and copouts.  It’s not for the ones looking for a free ride.  It’s not the people looking for easy street.  It’s not for the freeloaders and back-drafters.  It’s not for the weak-willed and the road-killed.  It’s not for the pathetic, lethargic, or apathetic.  Those souls can’t hold on to the intense forward movement of the Kingdom…of the explosive and dynamic message of the Gospel.

It’s for the people who have a heart to be reckoned with.  A soul that can hold on to something wild, raw and aggressive.  A spirit that wants to take risks and follow God into the bowels of this world…reaching out at the risk of their lives.  This is the kind of kingdom that we are invited into.

The kingdom that is near, at hand.
The kingdom that is in our hearts.
The kingdom that is forcefully advancing.  Not sheepishly, not swimmingly, FORCEFULLY. 

People who are absorbed in their own little empires, will never lay hold of the kingdom…the kingdom that must be laid hold of with both hands if it’s ever to be grasped at all.  You can’t hold your empire with one hand, and God’s kingdom with the other.  It takes everything you’ve got to lay hold of something this forceful, this vibrant, this intense.

16"To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:
 17'We played the flute for you,
      and you did not dance;
        we sang a dirge
      and you did not mourn.'

God doesn’t always do what we want him to, when we want him to, how we want him to.

We could be having great success, all the while he’s crying.
We could be having the worst day of our lives, all the while he’s filled with joy.
Our church could be growing while God is dying inside.
Our church could be shrinking while God is coming alive.

Blessed are those who don’t fall away on account of me.
Blessed are those who don’t fall away when I don’t behave according to their expectations.

When you follow God only when you get your way…
It’s no longer Theology…it’s Meology.
It’s not longer about deity of Jesus…it’s about the meity of "Jason". (insert your name)

Theology is the study of God.
Meology is the study of Me.

Theology concentrates on the worship of God.
Meology concentrates on the adoration of Me.

Theology speaks of the glory of God.
Meology speaks of the awesomeness of Me.

Theology seeks to promote God’s dreams and desires.
Meology seeks to endorse My objectives and aspirations.

Theology centers on Jesus.
Meology orbits around Me.

Jesus has asked us to follow Him.  He is not following us.  And though you have asked him into your heart…the real alteration of lifestyle and worldview comes when He invites you into His…and you accept his invitation.


2 comments:

Christina Varghese said...

Jason, this is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G and so true. Could I share this on my FB notes, please?

Thank you :)

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