I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears! 6 I'm sorry—forgive me. I'll never do that again, I promise! I'll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor."
Job 42:5-6 (MSG)
I've been thinking and praying today for those who don't "get" God.
Some of whom I know personally, and love.
Being kind of heavily invested myself in following Jesus, it is sometimes hard for me to step out of my "Holy Bubble" and understand just why people who I know have heard the story of God's love through Jesus and who have even followed Him for a while just never really commit.
But I'm getting help.
Reading that snippet of Job and God's conversation helps me see how someone can be very religious, go through all the right hoops and do all the right notions - even know the secret handshake - but miss God by a mile. Living off someone else's faith, never wrestling personally with the deep questions, just trusting that others know is like the hearsay and rumors Job talks about. Faith in Jesus is a personal decision, and if you don't ever really choose to follow Him, as soon as those who really are following - the ones you are hanging with - move on, you are left without even a thimble of real faith.
So Job is helping me see that faith in Jesus always has to be intensely personal. No second-hand faith - through family or friends - will get you where you need to be - with God.
Then there's Donald Miller, an amazingly authentic person who writes without benefit of exposure to the cultural Christianity most of us live in. He has this annoying habit of looking at what most of us and our churches do, and telling others about it.
We believe a person will gain access to heaven because he is knowledgeable about theology, because he can win at a game of religious trivia. And we may believe a person will find heaven because she is very spiritual and lights incense and candles and takes bubble baths and reads books that speak of centering her inner self; and some of us believe a person is a Christian because he believes five ideas that Jesus communicated here and there in Scripture, though never completely at one time and in one place; and some people believe they are Christians because they do good things and associate themselves with some kind of Christian morality; and some people believe they are Christians because they are Americans.
If any of these models are true, people who read the Bible before we systematically broke it down, and, for that matter, people who believed in Jesus before the printing press or before the birth of Western civilization, are at an extreme disadvantage. It makes you wonder if we have fashioned a gospel around our culture and technology and social economy rather than around the person of Christ.
- Donald Miller in Searching For God Knows What
Being a Christian means following Jesus Christ. In every situation. With every thought, every word, every action. It means a surrendered life that renounces selfishness for a life spent in loving God, loving your neighbor, and serving both.
It is an intensely personal commitment lived out among others who share it, for the benefit of those who don't. It's first hand knowledge, like this:
From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in— we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we're telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us. 3 We saw it, we heard it, and now we're telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!
1 John 1:1-4 (MSG)
My heart aches for those I love who don't love Jesus. If I contributed to you hearing rumors or hearsay and tried to give you a second-hand faith, I'm sorry. Faith is won after a struggle, where you surrender in order to win - and admit defeat to claim victory. You choose to follow Christ, no matter what.
No one else can do that for you.
It's your life.
Lead pastor - New Hope