God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.
In our last post from the book of Acts we looked at five reasons God gave Philip such an easy opportunity to save the soul of the Ethiopian eunuch. If you’re interested, you can check that out here: 5 Reasons God Gave Philip Such an Easy Opportunity to Save a Soul: Acts 8:26-40. In today’s post I’ll share something personal that happened to me a few days ago, and what God did to completely change my perspective about someone close to me.
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.Acts 9:1-9
I Was Hurt and Offended
I said something to someone close to me the other day and they responded in an unexpected way, and I felt hurt and offended. Then, as sometimes happens, Jesus used the next twenty-four hours or so to show me some things. After that exchange with the person who offended me I went out to walk and pray and God showed me that the reason this person responded the way they did is because they’re hurting. They’re hurting in obvious ways, on so many levels, that what I should really be concerned about is this person’s pain and hurt, not my own relatively minor pain and hurt.
And then yesterday something happened during my morning devotion time. I was reading from 1 Peter chapter 1 where Peter says, “he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct . . .” and I was praying as I was reading, as I sometimes do. And as I was praying, “Father, please make me holy . . .” He just hit me with this profound feeling of wholeness, and all the hurt and offense I felt toward that person who had reacted in an unexpected way, it just vanished — and that lasted for about twenty minutes. But never the less it was there long enough for me to realize something. (1 Peter 1:13-16)
G.K. Chesterton once wrote,
“In one sense, and that the eternal sense, the thing is plain. The answer to the question , ‘What is Wrong?’ is, or should be, ‘I am wrong.’ Until a man can give that answer his idealism is only a hobby.”G. K. Chesterton
And that’s exactly what God was showing me. God was sharing with me an important truth. And that truth is
The problem is me.
Like Paul in our text, I think I know things. I think I’m pretty smart. Smarter than most. Pretty far over to the right on the bell curve when it comes to intelligence. (This is all unsubstantiated of course, but it doesn’t seem to stop me from thinking it’s true.) And I like to use all of my self perceived brain power to evaluate people. I evaluated the person who didn’t respond the way I expected. Of course my evaluation was accurate and insightful, I thought, and that person was clearly wrong, I thought. I like to evaluate the Bible too sometimes. I gravitate toward what lines up with the way I look at the world, and I like to think my university and internet educated 21st century mind operates on a far higher level than the ancient authors of the Old and New Testaments. I’ve studied the whole of scripture, the entire Bible from cover to cover. Using today’s standards of evaluation with all of this data incorporated into my analysis, I know my well informed enlightened mind can tell what’s worth valuing and what’s not. At least those are the thoughts rattling around in my head.
In today’s text Saul was evaluating the followers of the Way. He was so sure he was right. Educated at the feet of Gamaliel, having studied the Jewish scriptures from cover to cover, he knew that what he knew was the hard truth: the followers of the Way were ill informed and misguided. And the issues at hand were serious issues that warranted Saul’s response. While Saul was the evaluator he described his own feelings as a “raging fury” against Jesus’ followers. (Acts 26:9-11)
And then he encountered Jesus on the road. The light of Christ was overwhelming. He was humbled almost beyond what he could bear. He fell to the ground and heard Jesus say to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Pointing us to the truth about what we’re really doing when you and I evaluate Jesus’ followers. When we persecute a fellow believer, we persecute Jesus.)
Saul asked, “Who are you, Lord?”
Jesus said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
Saul was so overwhelmed by this encounter with Jesus, he entered into a new way of life. Where he used to be the evaluator of others, Saul now surrendered himself to Jesus’ evaluation of him. And Jesus’ evaluation of him was all that mattered.
This new way of life also changed him in another way. Where he used to plan where he would go and what he would do, Saul now surrendered himself to Jesus’ plan. “. . . rise and enter the city, and you will be told what to do” next, Jesus said. From now on it’s Jesus who tells Saul where to go and what to do.
This is the way of those who follow the Way. We’re no longer evaluators of people or Jesus or God or the Bible. If we want to follow Jesus we have to stop evaluating and become the evaluated, evaluated by Christ. I have to stop evaluating and surrender myself to Jesus’ evaluation of me.
What Christ thinks of me is all that matters.
And we have to let ourselves be overwhelmed by the light of Jesus.
And we have to ask:
Where will you send me Lord?
What would you have me do next?
“Father, please have mercy on me and on the dear person praying this right now. Please forgive me for thinking I’m more than I am. Please forgive me for my arrogance. Please forgive me for evaluating others and for evaluating even You and Your words in Your scriptures. Be merciful to me Father, and change me, transform me the way You transformed Saul. Take the scales from my eyes and help me to see Jesus clearly. Help me to be overwhelmed by the light of Jesus to the point where I surrender to him and follow his words.
“Have mercy on me.
“In Jesus’ name.
Jordan M. Poss, What’s Wrong, Chesterton?, February 28, 2019
Now available on Amazon!
Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus)
Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.
Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:
- Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
- How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
- The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
- How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
- How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
- How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
- How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
- How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
- How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.
With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too.
A life of loving like Jesus.