Monday, March 17, 2008

Rethink Jesus: Part 4

While on vacation, I missed part four of the “Rethink Jesus” series. So, thankfully, I got to listen to it on our church’s website. Wow!! It was great!! There was a LOT of good stuff, and stories, that Chad talked about and I don’t know if I will be able to cover it all without getting too lengthy. Therefore, I highly recommend listening to this one!!

Chad first retouched on “religion” a little bit and about how religion is a way of connecting and binding to God. God’s commandments and laws (the old covenant) was the way provided for the people to connect and bind to Him. But, like humans so often do, they distort and pollute the purity of what God’s purpose is for what He has given. Soon, the law started becoming more and more about the rules, rituals, and the yokes of burdens that the religious officials would keep adding and piling up on the people. Chad talked about some of those things in the previous part in the series (feel free to listen to it for yourself because he explains it a lot better!). The foundational principle of loving God and loving others became secondary instead of primary because people became so consumed with keeping all the rules that started becoming attached to the religion.

At the last supper, Jesus totally blew things wide open when he said in John 14:6, “…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” This is what he had said in response to Thomas saying “Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” (Jesus had just talked about going away to prepare a place for them). Chad said that though Thomas often gets a bad rap for “doubting” he said in some ways, we should be like him because he was always one to ask questions. Kind of like how you are sitting in class and the teacher asks if you understand; you really don’t, but you are afraid to question. You consider asking for clarification, but you hold back for one reason or another. Then, a “Thomas” asks the very question you were thinking of; the burning question that everyone was wanting to ask but didn’t. Then, the teacher goes on to explain and clarify. I remember times like that. One of my all-time favorite teachers always used to tell us to ask questions if we didn’t understand (though, many were petrified of asking him and of being made a fool of lol. Only the brave ones knew how and what to ask!). “Otherwise, I’ll assume you know everything,” he always said. If no one asked, he would say “aces.”

Well, since most of us aren’t always “aces” and do need some explanations, Jesus provides them when we ask; just like he did when Thomas asked. Though, even then, that was a hard answer for the disciples to take in because the “way” they always knew was the way they had always grown up with [the law]. Now, to say that HE [Jesus] was “the way” was a little mind-boggling. Jesus was showing them that HE was the one that had come to make and be the way; the new covenant.

John 14:6 is sometimes hard to digest because not all can understand or accept “one way.” A lot of times, we consider many other “ways”; including our “own way.” So, which “way” is correct? Chad said that he had a girl ask him that very question. She was preparing for college and of course, we all know how college can shake up your belief system. So, in preparation, she was hoping to discuss and solidify what it means to believe and about Jesus being “the way” and what made Him the only way and not some other person or religion. You might want to listen to how he talked about it in the sermon online, but I will try and sum it up. He said that he thinks he mishandled things and wishes he could do things over (been there done that!!). He said it all seemed a little like “deal or no deal.” Here he was presenting the one million dollar Jesus case. Then, there’s these other cases that maybe could be the ticket to the million. Which case do you pick? Which is the right one? Every religion claims they are right. How do you know which one is telling the truth when they all claim truth?

Chad says that he went too much down the path of “Christianity” rather than just the path of Jesus and who He is. He also related it to an example of how when he was going over his sermon, his daughter asked what he was preaching on and he had John 14:6 before him. She took a pencil that was on the table and underlined “no one” in the verse. Chad said it broke his heart because he knew that she got that from him. He said it should be more about underlining “truth and the life” rather than “no one.”

So, in rethinking what he could have done different, he talked about the focus being the “truth and the life.” What is truth and life? What has Jesus done in your life? What are your “God stories”? That is what is true! That is what gives life!! I remember learning about the importance of that at Acquire the Fire years ago. They asked us what we were going to tell people when they ask us how we know Jesus is real. The easy answer: “He changed my life!” It’s not solely about “evidence” and “proof” (though there is plenty!). The biggest proof is your testimony - or how Chad put it “God dancing in my bloodstream.” Like Acts 17:28 says: “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.”

No other person or religion could ever do for me what Jesus has done for me!! Chad said to go and look at what the other “religions” offer compared to who Jesus is, what He’s done, and what He is doing (and will do!). In what other religion is there a God who not only loves you, but pursues you? Is there any other God who loves you, has sacrificed for you, and is coming back for you? This brilliant statement by Chad says it best: “He’s the only way because He’s the only one.”

John 14:6 is true; not only because Jesus said it, but because it’s real in every heart that believes it!! Chad shared countless God-stories to back that up and I have several of my own (some of which happened on my vacation - which I’ll be sure to blog about later!).

So, how is Jesus working in your life? Is He “dancing in your bloodstream”? Man, I love that phrase!! It makes me crave God even more!! I just want to be continually filled with His joy and His Holy Spirit - renewed, rejuvenated, and refreshed in Him each and every day with a new passion and zest for life…..because He is the one that fills it and makes my life what it is!! I know Jesus is real and that HE IS THE WAY - THE ONLY WAY - TRUTH AND LIFE!! He’s real because He is alive and living in me!! He gives me life, purpose, joy, and so much more!! He fills my heart and it bursts with gladness, thankfulness, and praise! He puts a smile on my face and spring into my steps!! I am who I am because of Christ and I couldn’t (and wouldn’t!) want to live without Him!!

Do you know what I know? Do you have what I have? If you don’t and you’re thinking “I gotta get me some of that!” well…….you can!! The same Jesus that died for me and did all that He did in my life can be your Jesus too!! If you want Him, you can have Him!! God made it all possible!! “The Way” is there; all you have to do is choose it and believe it!! Then, just you watch what happens next!! Jesus will change your life!! Hallelujah!!

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