One of the things I used to say when I was an expert on parenting (before I had children) is that I would never say “Because I said so.” I swore to myself that I would never be like my parents when I would incessantly question them about why I had to do what they instructed me to do and they would say, “Because I said so.”
But then I told my eldest daughter to do something that seemed like a no-brainer to me. I told her to brush her teeth. She said, “Why?” My response, because I didn’t want to go into the explanation of why we should brush our teeth again and if we don’t they’ll rot and fall out, was a curt, “Because I said so and I am your father.”
One of the greatest weaknesses and fallacies of the western Church today is that we seem to have lost the idea that God is our Father. Father is a loaded word for many people, I understand that. But just because you or I have had a bad experience with our earthly father doesn’t mean that we are then required to have a problem with our heavenly Father.
Our so-called faith in the Western Church is all about us and what makes us comfortable. Oh, the term Father makes you uncomfortable because your own dad was broken and sinful? Okay then, we’ll just accommodate your sensitivities and bow to your wishes and stay away from such toxic words as “father.” It’s kind of ridiculous.
Another thing we’ve lost in the western Church is the authority of God. For us, Jesus has become our friend, our “lover”, our homeboy even. While Jesus is a friend of sinners and entirely accessible and kind and loving, He is also the risen and ascended King of glory. We forget that to our great detriment.
Let me illustrate.
Jesus’ disciples walked with him, lived with him, laughed and cried with him for three years. They say Jesus in His most human and in His most glorious and divine nature. After He was raised He appeared to them. John’s gospel records something that I want to talk about.
“After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:26-28, NASB)
This is important. Thomas recognized Jesus for who He was; the risen Lord, God and King. Did you notice that? None of the other disciples voiced this, only Thomas.
Here’s what I’m trying to say.
Jesus is our friend, yes. Jesus is our elder brother, yes. Jesus is the lover of our souls, yes. Jesus is kind and merciful and loving and all those things. But He is also the risen King of glory. His power and authority are absolute.
His power and authority are absolute.
It really doesn’t matter if you agree with that or believe that. It is true, regardless of your belief or my belief. And because that is true, because Jesus has absolute authority (Matthew 28:18), we must give Him our undying trust and obedience and love.
We don’t get to say no to Jesus.
All throughout Scripture, God/Jesus/Spirit is asking and commanding people to do things that are vastly uncomfortable for them. I’m reading through Ezekiel right now if you need an example. God regularly asks of His people, His children that they do things they don’t want to do. After all, Jesus did what He did not want to do. He went to the cross, He suffered by taking on the sin of the world in a way that we cannot possibly fathom. But He did it willingly. Why?
Because it was the will of the Father.
Because God said so.
The sooner we embrace God’s absolute authority in our lives, the sooner we have peace. I’m not saying that what He asks of you or me will be comfortable. In fact, the Bible bears witness repeatedly that following Jesus will probably be distinctly uncomfortable. But that doesn’t mean we get to say no to Jesus and what He says because we crave our own comfort more than Him.
Let me be clear:
Either Jesus is Lord of all or He is not Lord at all.
Either we are obeying Jesus or we are not. His power and authority are absolute. We need to stop qualifying our obedience and trying to bargain with God based around a selfish desire for our own comfort. Our obedience to God’s will in our lives is based solely on who He is, not how we feel about our choices.
Jesus is the risen and ascended King of glory and we obey because He said so.
Soli Deo Gloria!
I don’t know about you but I have a love/hate relationship with the Bible.
Before you get all upset, let me explain. I love the Bible. It is God’s revelation of Himself to us, His story of redemption, His very Word to us. I read and study the Bible incessantly. I do this because it is the very Word of God. How else can I hear His voice? How else can I come to know Him except by His Word? Granted, He has revealed some things about Himself in nature, in humanity, in the world. But the primary means by which we may know God is the Bible. I love it.
I also “hate” it. I don’t mean hate as in hate hate. I mean hate as in it makes me very uncomfortable at times. God confronts me in my sin by His Word. He calls me to confession of sin and uses His Word to point out the darkness of my heart. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way,
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12, NASB)
Here’s my point in all this.
I was reading this morning during my time with God…You know what, let me back up a second. I have spoken ad nauseum about all that has gone on in my family’s life over the past few years; there has been heartbreak and heartache, painful situations, tears and mourning and uncertainty. I recently, in a conversation with my dad, was talking about following the call of Jesus into ministry. Eight years ago I walked away from my law enforcement career to follow the call of the Master. My dad and I were talking the other day and I said this,
“Yeah, what a stupid decision that turned out to be. It’s caused us nothing but pain.”
Now, on its face, this is a ridiculous statement. There have been many times of joy, not the least of which is my wife and I marrying and having two beautiful children, meeting many people along the way, telling them about Jesus and many other things.
But we’re in the middle of a painful season and all we can see sometimes is the pain and discomfort. And then, this morning, I read this.
“As they were traveling on the road someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus told him, “Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Then he said to another, “Follow me.” “Lord,” he said, “first let me go bury my father.” But he told him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me go and say good-bye to those at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”” (Luke 9:57-61, CSB)
I was struck to silence and conviction and tears by the Word this morning. Not because Jesus is harsh and was mean to me but because His Word speaks directly to my heart and reveals my sin. Did you notice how many times Jesus, in this text, told someone to follow Him and they say ‘yes but…’
Yes but is not obedience. Yes but is not submission to our Master and Lord. Yes but is so us though, isn’t it? Jesus, I’ll do what you want me to do but….
Don’t ask me to actually witness to who You are and what You have done to anyone.
Don’t ask me to quit my job (that one hit me hard).
Don’t ask me to go there and do that.
Don’t ask me to move to somewhere where I know no one or away from my family.
In fact, Jesus, don’t ask me to do anything that is uncomfortable to me.
If our yes to Jesus is in any way a yes but, then it is not obedience. I’m struck by the obedience of Jesus to the will of the Father.
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8, NASB)
But God is gentle and kind with us. He gives us chance after chance to repent. Maybe this is you today; it certainly is me.
Don’t hold back from Jesus. Don’t give Jesus your ‘yes but.’ Don’t look back from the plow before you. I don’t know why Jesus calls you or me to do what we are doing or what we will do. But I know that we must do what our Master bids us to if we love Him. The truth is that if we give Jesus a yes but, what we’re really saying is, “You’re not worth it, Jesus.”
Faithfulness matters more than our comfort.
What is God calling you to do? What is He calling me to do? What is it in your life and my life that we say ‘yes but’ to? Jesus said if we love Him, we will obey His commands. Hey, it’s hard for me also.
Don’t look back.
Don’t be afraid.
Pray for me. I’ll pray for you; that in all our lives the great worth of following Jesus would be shown to the world in joy and sacrifice and love!
Soli Deo Gloria!