Who does not enjoy the affirming thoughts of a greeting card? When we read about being loved, about another’s appreciation, those loving expressions brighten our day and fill up our hearts. Greeting cards are intended to be like a warm emotional hug. But, are they the only kind of expression of love or care?
In my collection of treasured items, there is a letter my Dad hand-wrote to me in 1976, when I was just starting in pastoral ministry. In it, he said some hard things about choices, about the effect that my actions would have on the lives of others, about the sacrifices and joys of the calling that I was embracing as a young adult. It is a profound expression of his love for me despite the inclusion of words that challenge me to this day!
In John’s Gospel we read “Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it? … many turned away and deserted him.” (John 6:66, NLT) Yes, it is true. Jesus offended many of those who were following Him by saying some HARD things to them about the place He claimed as their Bread and Life! He spoke in words about eating His flesh and drinking His blood and for some of them it was just more than they wanted to hear. If they wanted to experience the salvation He was offering, they were called to become one with Him and the way in which He spoke of that was hard, offensive, and many walked away.
Christian, Jesus still says hard things to us. In our modern Church we smooth out the wrinkles, ignore the Mystery, and too often attempt to make the Gospel into something like a greeting card that is all about love and good feelings. But, that is not the whole of the Message. Jesus is good news. In Him we find our true Life, our real reason for existence, and our eternal Hope. We also hear Him say things like ‘take up your Cross and follow Me.’ Who likes to hear that invitation to die to Self? I want Him to affirm me, to give me the things that make my life easy, to warm my heart with whispers of affection. Of course, that is surely a part of knowing Him. And yet … we also hear Him say that we must love Him so intensely that all other loves will seem hatred in comparison. He reminds us that our riches are to be eternal when He says ‘lay up treasure in Heaven.’
If we are honestly engaged with the Scripture and the Spirit, we will sometimes find ourselves offended, angered, disturbed by His words.
If you are not left wrestling with the implications of discipleship, challenged by the invitation to make Him Lord as well as Savior, I will be bold enough to suggest that you are living a superficial Christian life. There are moments in my discipleship journey when all can do is sink to my knees and borrow His prayers – “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done!” I sometimes do not understand. I am sometimes angered by His demands of me, but I always know that what He asks flows from nothing but love – for me, for my world.
- Christian, are you struggling to understand some part of God’s Word that you find offensive?
- Has the Spirit convicted you about some part of your life that He wants to be more closely conformed to the ways of Jesus?
- Have you run headlong into a conflict between what you desire and what the Lord demands?
Take this line and live it. “When you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart!”
May the choice of the faithful that is reflected in our word from the Word be ours as well. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:67-69, NIV)
(Worship along at this link)
All things work for our good
Though sometimes we can’t see how they could
Struggles that break our hearts in two
Sometimes blind us to the truth
Our Father knows what’s best for us
His ways are not our own
So when your pathway grows dim
And you just can’t see Him
Remember you’re never alone
God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
So when you don’t understand
When you don’t see His plan
When you can’t trace His hand
Trust His heart
He sees the master plan
He holds the future in His hands
So don’t live as those who have no hope
All our hope is found in Him
We see the present clearly
But He sees the first and the last
And like a tapestry He’s weaving you and me
To someday be just like Him
He alone is faithful and true
He alone knows what is best for you
When you don’t understand
When You don’t see His plan
When you can’t trace His hand
Trust His heart
Babbie Mason | Eddie Carswell© 1989 Dayspring Music, LLC (Admin. by Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.) Word Music, LLC (Admin. by WB Music Corp.)
CCLI License # 810055
Pastor Jerry Scott- FAITH DISCOVERY CHURCH- www.FaithDiscovery.com