Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A series of expositions on John the Apostle Pt.1

What could make a man’s beliefs so strong, so rock solid, and so relentless as to suffer an entire lifetime of hardship and persecution.
Imagine that, ponder that, you’ll be all day on it, I was and more. This man spent years, many years being mistreated, manhandled, imprisoned and once even boiled in oil!
He endured and suffered like a piece of iron though, beaten but not budged, weathered but not weak, like a pillar of granite John stood with Christ his best friend and his Lord and could not be shaken from him.
Even the most devout atheist should be rocked by this, after all could an atheist stand in his commitment of unbelief while standing before a vat of bubbling boiling hot oil that he is about to be delivered in to?
John is unwavering because of what he knows, what he has seen, and who he has indwelling him.

I think we can often pass by the life of the Apostle John “The one Jesus Loved” without taking some time to live with him a little while, see what he saw, smell what he smelled, and try, as difficult as it is, try to put ourselves in line with his perspective by really looking at and trying to live in the details that we have about his extraordinary testimony of faith.

At the same time we need to be encouraged and empowered ourselves for the same Spirit that John did these things by resides in us today. John was after all just a human with flesh and blood and even with quite a temper at first being called a “Son of Thunder.”  He was a flawed human like you and me, but with a perfect God, an ordinary man with an extraordinary Savior.

Part 1.
In John we see a beautiful rebirth. From a young man seeking, what he thought would be a position of power and authority from Jesus of Nazareth, to a man that through his own Gospel written by him at around the elderly age of eighty-five, didn’t even bother to mention his own name. When we read John’s Gospel we see that he only refers to himself as “the one Jesus loved” or the “other disciple.”

We first see John as a disciple of John the Baptist. John the Baptist sees Jesus walking by and exclaims “Look the lamb of God!” John 1:35
At this John and Andrew begin to follow Jesus of Nazareth.

Sixty years after this fateful meeting John can still recount the time it occurred, “four in the afternoon” John 1:39
We have all experienced profound sometimes life changing events where we can remember where we were, who we were with, even the smells and the details of the day many years later. This no doubt is the event in John’s life as it would’ve been in ours, the event that would write the story of how the rest of his life on this earth would play out.
John being a follower of the Baptist was already a man after God, a man seeking the truth. The Baptist’s entire existence on this earth was purposed only in one thing, “make straight the way for the Lord” to point to the Messiah, so John the Apostle had no doubt already learned quite a bit about this coming Messiah and how he was to become greater than the Baptist because we see John move without hesitation to leave the teaching of the Baptist to begin this new following.

How ready and willing are we to go wherever Jesus may lead us? To put it all in His hands and really let go, relinquish control and wait for the Spirit’s instruction? We live in a society here in the U.S. that largely identifies itself as Christian but the statistical evidence of the number of people that would claim this brand versus the number of people sitting in the pews or active in some faithful organization is vastly different numbers.  The word “believe” does not mean what it once did and it means less and less daily I am afraid. Many people do not make the connection between a vocalization and how that should transfer to your actions and behavior. This is just not the case in this ancient Jewish society of John the Apostle. They professed a belief and they viewed that as having direct consequences for their actions and behavior.
John could have professed his belief vocally and remained running his own life as he saw fit, and likely lived a life free from imprisonment and beatings but to John that would not have been real belief or real faith and it shouldn’t be to us either. We profess Christianity and do not even go as far as to inform ourselves on what we profess. Many people when asked about God’s coming judgment think it will not apply to them because they have professed a belief or uttered a prayer with their lips but when you ask them what they have actually done, what choices they have made in their own lives that pertain to that faith they have little to say.
Truly without reading the Word of God for ourselves we cannot be adequately informed on what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ, not just a “Christian” but a disciple.  If we who profess “Christianity” as our faith are not even willing to read when men like John and many others including our Savior were willing to die that should give us an indication of where we are spiritually, and that’s coming from a guy that was there once.

We slap a fish sticker on our car and a necklace around our neck, maybe even read a couple small fictional books about the faith and go about trying to look and conform ourselves to other “Christians” when all the while something so infinitely better sits on our table collecting dust waiting until next Sunday to be opened, after all we have to carry our bibles like everyone else, right?
This is why we have “Christians” today that carry picket signs proclaiming God hates people of a certain sexual orientation.
This is why we have Christian extremist’s that think its good for them to threaten harass and even physically assault abortion doctors.
This is why we have ignorant “Christians” calling for the slaughter of all Muslim people because of the acts of a few.
This is why we have a religion full of people that think we “Christians” were sent here to judge the unbeliever and tell everybody what their doing wrong. We sit in bible studies focused on our criticism of the sinner rather than the growth or lack there of we’ve made in Christ and how our looking and Loving more like Christ might attract the lost into faith in Christ.

We have a religion full of people terrified of who will get elected next, of what will happen with the economy, and who are perpetually offended by what lost people do, even when they themselves were once lost. These behaviors seem small and silly at best when compared to the disciples in the bible, when compared to what real “Christians” once looked like.

This condemnation of the lost is NOT in the bible and is NOT condoned by Jesus Christ.
 Jesus would see this behavior akin to the very Pharisees that had him executed. “Christians” today accept the ungodly behavior of there brother or sister in the pew and focus all there criticism of the lost.
This is opposite the actions and behavior directly taught by Jesus and all the first disciples and if we don’t think that’s going to make a difference when we meet the real man Jesus, who called people like this the children of Satin himself John 8:44, than we are delusional. If we profess Christ as our Lord and then go about criticizing, condemning, threatening, and perpetrating or advocating violence our lip service will not save us from the damning evidence of our actions. Jesus said in Matthew 15:8 “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

I am not your judge or theirs and do not claim to be but one is coming who will be.
I am just an ordinary man that was once guilty of some of these behaviors but has now read the Word of God for myself and knows that if you claim to be a “Christian” and follow a man/God named Jesus Christ that he tells us to Love the lost unconditionally and that will woo them in so that they may be willing to hear the truth of the Gospel. He also condemns the religious leaders of his time because they use the truth as a hammer on the lost and they twist the Word to suit themselves rather than apply themselves to the Word.

We “Christians” are to emulate Christ and we can’t know Christ or follow Christ by following the actions of a human that claims they know Christ, by being spoon fed the details someone else wants us to have. We are not called to just go to church, we are called to be the church and we cannot possibly begin to get that right until we let Jesus himself describe it to us.

We get God Wrong, we get life wrong, and we get eternity wrong, and beloved eternity is a long time to be wrong!