There are a few times in my life when I have been absolutely, positively, crystal clear that God has spoken. I love it when that happens. Sometimes it’s hard to know what God would have me do – or say. Sometimes it’s hard to know how Jesus would handle a particular situaton. How many times have I wished that God would speak audibly or write me a letter to tell me exactly what to do. But that would not require faith, would it?
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
– Hebrews 11:6
In today’s culture even Christians differ on what God has to say regarding many hot topics. Christians sit in opposing camps and even become hostile towards those who believe different than they do. Social media is plastered with all kinds of moral, spiritual, and political points of view and sometimes it’s hard to decipher what is right and true.
I can’t tell you how many times I find myself in situations when I discover that someone who I admire and respect has a dramatically different opinion than me about what God has to say. I have to consider the possibility that maybe sometimes I could be wrong. I so badly want to follow Jesus all the way to the cross and I do not want to be deceived. The thing about being deceived is we don’t know when it is happening because we are – deceived.
So who is right – and who is wrong? Are there black and white rules that we should be following? If Christians hold different beliefs does it mean that some will gain entrance into heaven and others won’t? How can we know what is right – or wrong?
Let’s look again at the above verse.
“Anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists”
Let’s start there. Do I really believe Jesus exists? Do I talk to Him daily and study His word? Am I more “talk” than faith in action? Am I following Him or my own moral compass? Do my actions and beliefs line up with what it says in the Bible? Am I twisting the words of the Bible to fit my personal agenda? Do I pray? Do I hear His voice? Do I obey when He speaks? Is the Bible even revelant today?
Look at what Jesus says in Matthew 22:29 when He was being challenged by the Sadduccees.
Jesus replied “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.”
Jesus tells us that the Bible is relevant. Over and over Jesus referred to Old Testament scriptures saying, “It is written“. Even though Scripture was written by men, Jesus was subject to Scripture as God’s Word. He obeyed it. It was His authority, the rule by which He lived. Yes, and we are talking Old Testament scripture. Don’t let anyone tell you that the Old Testament scriptures no longer matter – because they mattered to Jesus. We can find truth in the word of God.
I cannot describe how many times I have experienced strength and power through scripture. My world might feel chaotic and out of control but when I open His word my world rights itself. The words give me strength and courage and my feet are once again planted on His firm foundation.
Maybe you have tried to study the Bible and found it to be frustrating and hard to understand. If you want to get to know Jesus it is imperative to study the Bible. I have studied the Bible for 30 years and I still like to have a study guide on hand. One of my favorite Bible scholars is Warren Wiersbe. Click on his name, scroll down and you will see the study guides that he has written that begin with Be. Be Wise. Be Rich. Be Joyful. Be Mature. Be Alive. I believe he has written a study for every book of the Bible. He will take you through the scripture, explain it’s meaning, give background on the culture and the setting, and help you to understand God’s truths.
Now remember what Jesus said. The verses have power. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? It takes faith to believe this. The more you read scripture the more your faith will grow. The words themselves have power to change and to heal. They bring peace and comfort. They will set your world right. They will be your solid foundation in the midst of chaos.
OK, yeah. I got a little pumped up and have talked more than I had planned, but there’s still a bit more so please stay with me. Cruise on back to the very first verse and look at the second half of it.
“…and He rewards those who earnestly seek Him”.
Ahhh….this where the rubber meets the road. Am I earnestly seeking Jesus? Am I seeking to know Him through His word? Am I willing to obey when it may cost me? Am I willing to turn away from sin in my life and turn towards Jesus? Am I seeking truth? Or have I decided that I know-it-all ? Do I really know what Jesus has to say about the matter?
I was recently in a situation with another believer where we both believed God had something different to say on a particular topic. She had a compelling argument and I believe that I did to. At the end of the day we agreed to disagree with respect and consideration towards one another. I think that makes Jesus happy.
I believe with all of my heart that there are earnest followers of Jesus who sit in opposing camps. I also believe that followers of Jesus should respond to those in opposing camps with love. Those of you who have read my blog know that I can be a little bit of a spitfire at times. When I am hurt or criticized my knee jerk reaction is to get mad, hurt, or criticize back. When I think something is wrong my natural instinct is to fight in order to prove a point.
Over the past few months the Lord has revealed to me that is not OK. As Christians we should be “unoffendable” – meaning we should not easily be offended or take offense. We should not be grudge holders. The Lord did a number on my heart and opened my eyes to new truths and I have experienced change. I pray that I continue to change and grow all the days of my life.
Over and over Jesus tells His followers to love one another. He didn’t say that in order to love someone we have to sit in the same camp. We are not to be bound to any camp of people. We are to follow Jesus – period. And following Jesus demands that our personal relationship with Him is more important than what is going on in the camps. We are to obey His word wholeheartedly and at the same time be able to love those who see it different than we do. And we should not be offended when others don’t agree with our point of view.
We should not spend time criticizing those who disagree with our beliefs. Criticism is not love. We should not presume to judge someone else’s life. Judging is not loving. The Bible is clear about what sin is – and we should be only looking at our own. Here is a verse that always make me cool my judging jets.
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. – Matthew 7:2
It’s dangerous to judge. I don’t think that all Christians outwardly look the same. When believers enter the pearly gates I think there might be some surprises as to who is there and who isn’t. Only Jesus knows each heart. He knows our story. He knows if we are seeking truth. He knows if we are loving and kind. He knows how far we are willing to walk with Him. He knows if we are earnestly seeking Him and He rewards those who do.
Until next time,