Shekinah Glory

Then He Opened My Eyes (Testimony)
May 4, 2008, 10:38 am
Filed under: Bible, Christianity, Church, God, Grace, Inspiration, Jesus, Religion, Sermon, Spirituality

We are told in both Luke and Ephesians that followers of Christ had their minds opened and their hearts and eyes were enlightened before they embarked on the tough tasks of repentance, forgiveness and realizing the great hope that laid before them on their journey toward wisdom and revelation. For some reason this week I looked back on my own journey and could completely relate to these two themes.

I would have been content to stay in the religious tradition of my childhood. To think that I was a soldier in the army of the Lord and that our only foe was Satan. You would think that the certainty of being saved for a paradise in the future and the need to save as many fellow humans from the burning pits of hell would fill my life with a type of purpose. After all, I asked Jesus into my heart four or five times. On the path of my childhood beliefs all I needed was to witness to others about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ to make sure they spent eternity in heaven. Then I could pretty much like everyone else. I would have been free to pursue a nice career, make a good living, live in quiet domesticity and die knowing that even if tragedy followed me on this planet the next would certainly make up for it.

This isn’t what I signed up for! Here are some of the things that I have learned from taking my initial commitment to being a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. Leadership means serving, serving means humility, humility means knowing my true self and knowing my true self is painful. I learned that what I understand of God is radically small and is tied into how well I understand my fellow humans and myself. That Jesus doesn’t want me to lose my personality or myself but to love others and myself like he does. I know that sometimes pain is my best friend. I have come to appreciate that sometimes my personal beliefs are a lot less important than being faithful. In the end all my personal interactions boil down to something that I could learn even if I never read a word of the Bible. Do unto others, as you would want them to do unto you. I could spend a lifetime trying to understand what I need and then practicing it on you.

I did not expect that in order to follow this strange Jewish teacher that lived 2000 years earlier I would be stripped and deconstructed of every cultural and religious tradition that I held sacred and have it held up in the true light of day. I have been shaken, stirred and sometimes felt that I barely made it to the other side. The Spirit has radically challenged my every belief and after deconstructing them has told me to be open and much more liberal about grace. I was challenged by Christ’s teachings away from being a homophobic, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, sexist, racist, fundamentalist. That is the power of Christ when you take his teachings seriously and allow him to mess around with your mind. What a powerful teacher.

Today, Christ is forcing me to listen closely to Atheists, agnostics, Muslims, evangelicals, Zoroastrians and anyone who fits outside my safe sphere of beliefs. I am listening and Christ is opening my mind. Although I may find some of their views infuriating, I am being taught daily how to love. I am constantly being stretched to examine my own anger, intolerance, greed and unhappiness.

That is my testimony this morning. Too often I am like those followers who after hearing the hard teachings of Christ say, “this is tough, who can follow this man?” This is why I have never been in the running for the job of God. If it would be up to me things would never change, our systems would rigidly adhere to my control and I would have unrealistic expectations of myself and everyone else. In other words we would all fail to measure up to God Brian. Aren’t you so grateful that I am not in charge of the universe?

I guess no one wants to say, “I was wrong.” Especially me. Isn’t the whole idea of being a Christian having certainty? Shouldn’t we have some benefits in this life? Shouldn’t the Christian faith be like a good hour of Crossfire? The one with the most intelligent position should win the day, right?

Following Christ is filled with absurdity. This is why Paul proclaims it to be foolishness. Loving our enemy, hanging around with those whose sin reeks to high heaven, repentance instead of divide and conquer, forgiveness instead of nurturing resentments for the rest of our lives, unity instead of division, servant leadership, humility and the acceptance of those whom I have relegated to the margins of God’s kingdom.

So, beware all ye who enter this way. If you are serious about this Jesus thing it will never be easy, it will always be challenging, but the rewards are eternally satisfying.


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