The longer I am in this world, the longer it takes me to understand some things. Sometimes these are things that I should realize more easily. Other times, the application is difficult for me to accept. I am not sure if this is denial or if I choose to let things not make sense.
We have had the same two dogs for the last five years. There is Driver, the younger black and tan coon hound who is headstrong, not overly intelligent as dogs go, and who still wants to hunt down every scent in the world. One of the challenges of walking him is not having your arm pulled longer by 2-3 inches for every block you walk. He always is out in front, pulling.
Then there is Trey, the 12-year-old Australian Cattle dog. His is a breed that herds by nature, so when you take him on a walk, Trey brings up the rear. He has always been that way even before he had twelve years of walking on those legs. I make sense of this by realizing Trey is keeping track of his “herd.” When my wife and I are walking with the dogs and if Driver and I fall behind, Trey will always wait until we are in front again. He is very dependable that way. Always there behind us, making sure his pack is together.
Earlier this week, we watched the movie The Shack. I found it interesting for a lot of reasons but what was surprising was that the movie actually presented the concept of the three persons of Triune God. It was necessary to do a lot of sifting with the concepts presented as opposed to what the Bible actually says. But compared to 99% of the movies around today, at least there was something to sift.
In one scene the main character finds himself in a boat on a large lake where Jesus invites him to walk on the water. By keeping his eyes on Jesus, the main character was able to do so.
Later, the man is about to return across the same lake. Without hesitation, he tramps into the lake and promptly finds himself knee-deep in water. He turns back and looks at Jesus with a good amount of questioning on his face. Jesus looks at him and says, with a smile, “This always works better when we do it together, don’t you think?” I laughed.
Remember the title Five Years and a Movie Quote? As I walked the dogs this morning, some things finally fell into place. And no, this is not dog theology. It is just that God knew I would need a few prompts to make sense out of something important and I needed it today. Here is what came to mind.
Sometimes I can be like Driver. As I try to reach out to others, or write this blog, I get ahead of myself to reach the goal of telling others about Jesus. I need to be careful to avoid saying or writing things that may or can sound so good or inviting but either add to or exclude from what is in the Bible. In 2 John 9, I read, Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
The message of the Bible is straight forward. All have sinned. God hates sin. To get to heaven, Jesus had to come to earth, live a perfect life and die on the cross to pay for everyone’s sin. That shows his love for me and everyone in the world. (John 3:16)
If I leave either of those things out, the sin and Jesus’ sacrifice, I do not continue in the teaching of Christ and I am unfaithful to God’s Word. If people seek out Jesus only for relief from the way they feel about themselves, or the struggles in this world, they miss the point of his life. Jesus came to pay the punishment for our sin and open heaven to everyone.
What I write, how I say things, my whole life would be much easier if I wouldn’t think I need to do it by myself. The movie mentioned doing things together and the Bible says it so much better in Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
I can confidently live my life, write and tell other people about what Jesus has done for them with the strength that comes from God. And if I fall short or stray away, it is not a judge I face, but rather Jesus, the loving Shepherd who always is watching and making sure I am led or nudged back on the right path. And his herding skills are far more effective than Trey’s.
This was not a revelation to me. I knew all this before. But the things God put into my life over the last period of time helped me to make sense out of it. The bigger problem for me is to live this out. I often fall short of walking with Jesus in all I do.
The good news? I am forgiven and if I wake up tomorrow, I have another chance to practice following his way, not mine. Better get going, I have a lot of practice ahead of me. Come on back–I will wait you.