SEARCHING FOR JESUS
The orthodox community is a loose collection of Christian believers who generally believe in the authority of the Scriptures with the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, and salvation by faith in Jesus alone serving as the foundational doctrines. Now to be sure there are many who claim these things and yet by their practice and teachings they reveal a very unorthodox version of the faith. But for the purposes of this article I want to address the first group which would be considered “literalists” as it pertains to the Scriptures.
It is widely assumed that if we have a Scriptural and orthodox belief system and statement of faith, and if we believe that Jesus is God, died for our sins, and resurrected from the dead, that we have found Him in all His majesty, mystery, and glory. The average evangelical lives his life content with his orthodox church and its orthodox doctrinal views and its consistent week to week practices and teachings. And like a winding river carrying thousands of logs down to the mill the evangelical community moves like an irresistible force in numbers and in practice. We are orthodox! (applause light has been turned on)
But within this colossus exists a spiritual vacuum that exists because of spiritual lethargy, cultural influence, and doctrinal fear. There is no excuse for the lethargy or allowing the culture to compromise our faith, however there is a reason to be wary of spurious teachings. There are many clever men and women today who can claim to be orthodox while teachings things from slightly off base all the way to heresy. So it is wise to have a healthy discernment concerning these kinds of people.
But that fear has led the church to fortify its positions at the expense of a life changing pursuit of the Living and Reigning Christ. We have found the doctrinal Jesus and with that we are not just content, but we are proud. Armed with easy and self serving answers to all situations and difficulties, we just bring the usual pat answers bucket to any problem and pour our stale water over it and go on about our earthly business. So when someone struggles within our community we can quickly and without much energy refer them to our statement of faith and effortlessly demand they quit whatever they are doing or quit asking questions and just come in line with the rest of us.
Deep thought and meditation as well as sacrificial prayer are at best an inconvenience to the present evangelical lifestyle. So any people with excruciating struggles many times cause believers to retreat to well worn mantras in order to not only avoid addressing uncomfortable questions, but to also avoid carrying uncomfortable burdens for others. The quick fix is the tried and true method. Building funds and conferences and men’s “prayer” breakfasts are of primary importance. I mean we have answered all the questions and solved all the conundrums decades ago so why revisit anything. And when asked “Do you know Jesus” we can all in unison boldly proclaim our doctrinal knowledge of Him as well as an historical event some time ago when we first came to faith. But is that all we are called to?
Is Jesus just our heavenly meal ticket or is His person so glorious and so intoxicating that we cannot help but seek Him with our whole hearts for our entire earthly lives? And when one of our fellow believers or even a fellow human being asks some uncomfortable questions that are troubling them, then it is our spiritual responsibility as well as our compassion which should drive us to seek Christ about them. It is not enough to throw out redundant answers in order to avoid any personal sacrifice and time. And to be quite clear regardless if we are dealing with any questions we should always be hungering and thirsting for more knowledge and intimacy with Christ.
Eph.1: 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
Matt.11: 28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
“Learn of Me” says our Savior and the Apostle Paul prays that we should be given the very spirit of revelation in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus. Now I ask you, why is Paul praying like this when he is speaking in context to people who already have come to faith? It’s because we are supposed to be loving and seeking intimacy with our Lord and Savior. Does that word “intimacy” scare you? Does it sound too mushy especially if you are a man? I realize than many churches present Jesus as some kind of cosmic boy friend but that is not what I mean when I say intimacy. This kind of relationship is sacred and close and growing and it brings the believer more and more of the life he has found in Christ.
How can we ignore or even run from that which brings us life and molds us into His very life? And now I present you a video which I hope provides a backdrop for what I mean when I say we should seek Christ with our whole heart and reject the packaged and apathetic and dispassionate responses that are usually the rule.
Now here is a woman who went to church as a little girl and participated in all the evangelical rituals and trusted Jesus but was internally confronted with attractions and thoughts which she soon identified as wrong but was unable to inoculate herself from those attractions. She probably attempted to sterilize herself and many times repented and asked God to remove them from her. That story has many thousands of central characters throughout the evangelical world. And here is another true story about a boy raised in an evangelical home and church who battled same sex attractions with such torture and who deeply desired those attractions to be taken from him. He eventually threw himself off an overpass onto a speeding tractor trailer and was killed.
Now let me make one thing very clear although some are so transfixed inside their self serving moral forts that they ignore these words and accuse me of promoting the gay lifestyle. I do not care what men may say. But this post is not about the gay issue but it does provide a backdrop from which I can drive home my point about seeking Jesus. This is not about being homosexual or sinful behavior. No, this post is about us. Yes, we who have notarized heterosexual credentials need to examine our own hearts and lives as it pertains to seeking Jesus in order to be redemptive conduits to be used in His service.
I am speaking openly about what it truly means to be a disciple. There are those who claim that discipleship is becoming familiar with all the regular doctrines of the church, and those are important. But being a hungry follower of Jesus goes far beyond some doctrinal test which can be fed into a computer. With all the compromises and all the scandals as well as the obvious powerlessness of the western evangelical church is it not about time we take a painful inventory about who we are and who we should be? Is God pleased with those who claim His name but spend so much time pleasing themselves and so little time pursuing Him? The well oiled and machine called the local church has already planned the year’s calendar and budget and therefore has no need to do any self evaluation to say nothing of a sweeping repentance that literally begs God to do something that significantly changes all of us. So, yes, this kind of spiritual journey falls on all of us individually.
And if you and I desire to seek Jesus in such a profound way we must avoid comparing and measuring ourselves with anyone else. Self righteousness and legalism are Siamese twins which bring death to the life in the Spirit. But make no mistake, once you have personally seen your own spiritual inertia and what treasures remain buried then you are confronted with a choice which has nothing to do with anyone else but you. How much are you willing to sacrifice to seek a sacred and tangible experience with the Risen Christ? And how much are you willing to place before God so that the Spirit can identify what needs to go and what needs to become a reality in your life? You see, it’s not about what everyone else does; it’s about what I am doing.
And here is the question about which this post deals. Am I and are you searching daily for more of the knowledge of Jesus Christ? Can He be known and experienced with a deeper prayer life and occasional fastings and personal repentance and brokenness, or is our doctrinal statement all there is?