We are a world void of Jesus. We have denied Him and crucified Him and now live asking where is He?
At the last supper He reclined with His disciples – those he had lived with and loved. Those who were “in the world,” just as we are today. He knew, however, of their imperfectness and He knew His time to depart had come. That very night He would be denied by His own people. Because instead of faith, fear took the stage. The rooster crowed and His followers said they did not know Him. Why? They were lacking in their faith and they were afraid their lives would not be sparred.
When I imagine the events of that night I see darkness lit only by torches. I see people in distress and soldiers taking over a once peaceful place. I see men whose hearts had been overtaken and though their own leader had told them of what was to come, they fell asleep there in the garden of Gethsemane – the garden where Jesus begged for God to take this cup from Him, but also said, “Not my will Lord, but yours.”
Strange thing is this: I see the same thing happening in our world today.
I see the same fear struck people silenced and sleeping. I see a world void of faith and struck by fear. I see a people who deny their leader saying one thing with their mouths yet proceeding to live a life whose actions are of fear, anger, and shame.
I see Pharisees – those believing because they know the laws of the Bible – rising up condemning those who don’t live under the “rules of what God deems to be holy.” Blindly forgetting that they themselves are doing the unholy by judging those who are different from them. They direct their attention to those not living the “holy life” not realizing that they themselves – in their judgement of others – are also breaking what God deems good – to love their neighbors as themselves.
I see a people who live afraid of our modern day lepers – those who are different by the standards of our world, not accepting what God’s Word says, “that the Father put all things under His power.” (John 13:3).
And it all makes me wonder, what if?
What if, God has allowed those who are different from us to live with us that the name of Jesus might be shared? What if instead of sending His people out, He is bringing His people to us to share the good news of Jesus? What if we showed love to those whose skin colors were different, whose faith did not align with that of Christianity, whose origins of birth were not the same, and whose identities are seeking to be known, seen and deemed worthy despite their differences?
What if we stopped being so dang afraid of people and started to love them instead? What if we put aside those things we see to be right and wrong and accepted the truth – that not one of us is righteous? Not one! And that we all commit wrong-doings. (Romans 3:10)
I wonder how our world could change.
As I fell asleep one evening I suddenly saw the Old Testament and New Testament in a different light.
I saw an Old Testament that was Jesus-less. I saw a society where death, murders, jealously, sexual desires and wars were abundant. I saw a world void of the love and compassion of Jesus. I saw people enslaved by their own fears and shame.
I saw the world I live in today.
And then I saw the new Testament.
A place where Jesus is King. A place where love is taught, imperfectness is okay and faith reigns. I see a place where men and women sought with all their might to bring the sick to Jesus. I see where those who were sick sought to touch this Man because they believed that in simply touching the hem of His garment that they, too, would find healing. I see Jesus looking at the sick, the blind, the lepers and telling them what to do, them obeying his commands, and healing occur.
I see people who lived with each other on the streets, interacting in each others lives living in a world that wasn’t perfect, but who’s towns and village squares came together, lived together and worshipped together. I see the place I want to live, the people I want to interact with and the life I am seeking.
Thus the reason I have decided it is time to speak up about Jesus.
I beg of this world to look in the mirror. Do you see perfection? If indeed you do, then cast your stones (John 8:7). But if you see, instead, an individual whose life is a melting pot of both sin and forgiveness then I ask that you would stop hurling your insults and judgement and begin reaching out to your neighbors and understand that they, too, are likely afraid to step foot into this dark world. For those who live lives different from us also fear rejection, malice and hate. And for good reason, for this is what we spew to those who’s faith, religion and identities don’t align with our own.
I plead with our those around me, look inside of yourself and take note. For when we do, we will see what we don’t want to see. But it is here in this place that we, ourselves, will fall to our knees and ask Jesus for forgiveness and guess what? He will give it freely!
But in receiving, let us remember to not be like the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:21-35) who asked to have his debt paid, but then didn’t forgive the debt of those who owed him. Let us, instead, give freely to those around us because Christ gave to us.
If we are ready for Jesus to truly return then it is time to look within ourselves.
For, this my friends, is where He lives. It is this place – our hearts – that He calls home. He stands knocking and asking us to wake up and pray with Him, as He sits in the garden, facing execution, by none other than us.
Will you wake? Will you pray? Will you look within and take note that your wrongs – if put on display – would wreck havoc on your entire life and realize this is the reality of those whose lives do not “align” by the world’s standards?
Will you seek Him? And then, will you, as His disciple go? Will you go and put your everything into helping those around you get to Him? Will you be like the men who climbed a roof, cut a hole in the top of the building and lowered their friend down to Jesus because the crowds were so abundant that there was no other way (Luke 5:19)?
Will you climb the tree to heights beyond that which might be comfortable so that you can get a glimpse of this man whose name is Jesus (Luke 19:1-10)? Will you fight through the crowds believing that if you can just touch the hem of Jesus’s cloak that restoration will come (Matthew 9:20)?
Ultimately, will you allow your faith in Jesus to override your fear?
And then, when you do and when your sight is restored, your legs are given the strength to stand again, will you go? Will you go and help those who need help? Will you sit with those who live different lifestyles? Will you reach out to those who don’t know Jesus, or maybe they have heard of Him, but just haven’t seen or experienced Him? What if you are just that person to show the people around you, who this man named Jesus is?
Y’all, Jesus does live, but right now, He is sleeping.
He lives within you and me. We can pray for Jesus to come back, but until we look within and He reveals our darkness and we experience the weight of judgment that we place on others, we won’t see Him. We are the disciples, out at sea, when the storm surges (Matthew 8:23-27). We are yelling and crying for Him to wake up. But just as on the boat, He was still there, He is still here. But only through our faith will the storms of this life cease.
Ask Him. He will answer. Believe. And don’t forget that our fear is not faith.
The Bible tells us, it is our faith that saves us. Our fear will not. Our fear will only distance us from the One whom we say we want to come back. If you are ready, I ask you to seek Him. You will find Him. Our world can change. But it starts with us looking in the mirror, spending our time and energy on ourselves and focusing on our own souls. Then, and only then, can we go out and bring others to Jesus. For it is love that will bring others to know Him. It is not fear, hate, or anger. It is not condemnation. It is not judgement. Consider if Jesus brought you back by using these tactics on you. Would you come?
I know my answer would be no. What is yours?
Till next time,