Would You Stand Up and Walk out on Me? - Purity 888
Purity 888 11/14/2022 Purity 888 Podcast
Today’s photo of Buffalo’s Electric Tower decorated in Red White and Blue Lights and Washington Street Illuminated by street lights comes to us from yours truly as I stopped long enough to capture this scene before making my departure just before 4 am on Saturday morning. Even though I was raring to go, I try to be intentional about appreciating the journey as I go and in that still early morning silence it was as if the Holy Spirit Himself told me to stop and take one last look around before I hastily departed the trip that I felt God had called me to take.
Well, It’s Monday again, and yes it is back to life and back to the reality of work life again but that’s a good thing, as much as we enjoy our week end get a ways, vacations, and impromptu mission trips, the vast majority of our lives are spent doing the things we need to do to provide for ourselves and our loved ones and it is the place where if we are walking in the Spirit we will necessarily find peace and joy, just living as Christian disciple’s in our “normal lives”.
Don’t get me wrong, I was positivelyecstatic over my latest adventure on the road. With Wednesday evening’s walk through the downtown streets of Oswego, Thursday’s jaunt along the Coast of Lake Ontario and stop in Niagara Falls before my hostel stay in Buffalo, and culminating in volunteering at the Evening with David Jerimiah on Friday night, I really got a small feel of what it was like to live the life of a “beat writer” like Kerouac as I took time to appreciate the journey as much as appreciate the purpose of the journey.
And I guess that where I and Kerouac would have parted ways, my meandering journey had a meaning and purpose beyond the journey itself. To paraphrase the quote from Dan Akroyd in the Blues Brothers: I was on a mission from God.
In 2010, I was saved quite unexpectedly by a radio gospel message spoken by a preacher I didn’t know and who I thought I would have fun mocking. But the joke was on me as I came to understand the gospel of grace for the first time in my life that fateful Friday in March. The message was the forgiveness of sins without works through faith in Jesus Christ. And the messenger was David Jerimiah.
So earlier this year when I heard about his upcoming tour and event in Buffalo, that just happened to be on Veterans Day, I felt the call to go and serve the ministry that delivered the message that saved my soul.
And as the Lord would have it, my role as a volunteer seemed to come “full circle” as I who was saved by a David Jerimiah message was given the opportunity to serve as an “altar counselor” – a person who would greet and pray for others, like me, who heard the truth of God’s call on their lives and either made Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior or felt called to come forward and rededicate their lives to Christ.
I talked about my experience of serving as an altar counselor in the opening minutes of yesterday’s Bible Study with the Cincotti’s “For Such a Time as This” (https://youtu.be/WpN-j-I8C58) so if you want to here about it, I am including a link to the video on YouTube on the blog today.
It was a very joyous and humbling opportunity and I felt honored to serve there but there was one moment that happened before David Jerimiah completed his message and invited people to come forward that I will never forget.
Before the altar call and before the musical performers started singing “Amazing Grace”, David Jerimiah preached a message based on Jesus’ Olivet Discourse found in Matthew 24 & 25, Mark 13, and Luke 21, where Jesus prophesied about the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and what we commonly know as the end times. Jerimiah’s teaching on this subject can be found in his latest book “The World of the End”. Jerimiah’s message was biblically sound and sought to encourage the audience that even though current events may seem chaotic God was still in control and He had a plan to make things right that would come through the eventual return of Jesus Christ.
I literally had a front row seat for the message and was impressed with Jerimiah’s simple but hopeful teaching of what can be a frightening subject. I didn’t find his delivery or subject to be condemning or off putting at all.
However, about midway through Jerimiah’s message I noticed something. As I watched Jerimiah’ message from the right side of the Key Bank Center Arena, I saw a couple in the seats on the left side, stand up and walk out. And then I saw two other people walk out. And a group of three. Then I saw more leave. It wasn’t a mass exodus or anything but I would say that I observed approximately 15 to 20 people head for the exits with there coats on and seemingly no intention to stay.
The evening with David Jerimiah up to this point was filled with music and general positive messages regarding the Christian faith but when Jerimiah preached from the word of God from Christ’s end times prophecies people left as if to say: “I don’t want to hear any of “your” end times preaching!”
I also saw this. I saw an older couple, presumably married, and when some people started leaving the husband stood up as if to say “I’ve had enough, we’re done here.” But the wife remained seated. She didn’t move and although her husband stood for more than just a moment, she basically ignored him until eventually he just sat down again. Can you say “unequally yoked”?
You see David Jerimiah wasn’t speaking his end times message, he was reading and explaining the word of Jesus Christ, you know that guy who is the TRUTH, the Way, and the Life?
And to get up and walk out this rather basic interpretation on the words of Christ, really has to make you wonder about the spiritual destiny of someone.
They could stomach the worship music and general niceties of Christianity but when a message that was proclaimed that spoke of the urgency to believe and to follow Jesus suddenly the show was over. Their “religious tolerance” had reached it’s limits.
You see David Jerimiah wasn’t telling anyone how to live their lives or telling people who to vote for, He was telling people of the desperate need that every man, woman, and child had to make Jesus their Lord and Savior in light of Christ’s words. That’s it. Jerimiah basically encouraged his audience to not be afraid of the chaos of this world, to put their faith in Jesus, and to trust in the Lord.
But that was too much, because even though he didn’t say it, people know that if you put your faith in Jesus there is an expectation to be changed, to become like Jesus, by following His example in how we live our lives.
Any gospel that tells you that tells you nothing needs to change when you put your faith in Jesus denies what Jesus Himself and what the whole counsel of God says.
But apparently you don’t even have to preach about repentance, for some all you have to do is point to the exclusivity to save or the belief that God will intervene in the course of history to have His will be done “on earth as it is in heaven” to send people to stand up and walk out.
Now I realize that there could be very good reasons why some of people these left. I could even imagine that some of these people wholeheartedly identify themselves as Christians. But among all the reasons and a categories of possibilities I can cut it down to a few.
1. They are actually a follower of Jesus Christ and they had other matters to take care of that demanded their immediate attention. Hey, some times you got to go, sorry pastor. I’ll buy that book, tell my friends and family to put their faith in Christ to follow Him because we are in some dark time for sure!”
2. They may identify as a Christian culturally, or know Christians, but they don’t have a relationship with the Lord. They think Christianity is nice but don’t might believe that the Bible isn’t all true, don’t believe Jesus is God, or find other things in scripture like the call to sanctification or the end times to be highly questionable. They have no sense of assurance of salvation and suspect that religion just might be a game. Their “faith” doesn’t have a part of their lives or doesn’t have a priority in them.
3. Or they don’t believe - they were dragged along for the ride and although they suffered through the worship music, they couldn’t stay a minute more after the Bible got brought out!
That’s basically it. I think. Those who actually believe. Those who are along for the ride but don’t really have faith. And those who know they don’t have faith.
It gives me no pleasure to think about those who would walk out if they should fall into the latter two categories. In fact, when I saw those people leave I got a chill as I imagined the worse: that these people’s departure was a concrete example of their rejection of Jesus Christ in the starkest demonstrative way. I can imagine Jesus singing Joe Cocker’s old song about His friends:
“ What would you do if I sang out of tune?
Would you stand up and walk out on Me?”
Well some people, I don’t know which ones, got up Friday night at Key Bank Center in Buffalo and showed that they are no friend of Jesus by getting up and walking out on Him.
All I can say to that is that I hope a seed was planted. I hope that David Jerimiah’s preaching of the word of God disturbed them enough that they think about what Jesus said and it causes them to investigate the word of God for themselves.
Because as someone who got up and walked out of church on more than one occasion in my life, I know that as long as we live there is still hope for those who blatantly reject Christianity. As we walk through life and go through trials and suffer loss, there is the potential we will seek the meaning of our existence and we will instinctively ask God to reveal Himself to us.
And I know that even the most worldly sinner, can find the Truth when they humbly ask God for His help.
So for those who know the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and who are living with the hope and peace that go beyond understanding, share the good news. Keep walking and talking with God and demonstrate how good God is by living righteously and by caring for others.
And if you are not sure, or don’t have faith, I won’t preach but I would encourage you to investigate the spiritual matters of life and ask God to reveal Himself to you, because the word that you may not believe, tells us that if we seek the Lord with all our hearts we will find Him.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.
The Sermon on the Mount
On the Hidden Nature of the Christian Life
The Simplicity of Carefree Life
But where is the boundary between the goods I am supposed to use and the treasure I am not supposed to have? If we turn the statement around and say, What your heart clings to is your treasure, then we have the answer. It can be a very modest treasure; it is not a question of size. Everything depends on the heart, on you. If I continue to ask how can I recognize what my heart clings to, again there is a clear and simple answer: everything which keeps you from loving God above all things, everything which gets between you and your obedience to Jesus is the treasure to which your heart clings.
Because the human heart needs a treasure to cling to, it is Jesus’ will that it should have a treasure, but not on earth where it decays. Instead, the treasure is in heaven, where it is preserved. The “treasures” in heaven of which Jesus is speaking are apparently not the One Treasure, Jesus himself, but treasures really collected by his followers. A great promise is expressed in this, that disciples will acquire heavenly treasures by following Jesus, treasures which will not decay, which wait for them, with which they shall be united. What other treasures could they be except that extraordinariness, that hiddenness of life as a disciple? What treasures could they be except the fruits of Christ’s suffering, which the life of a disciple will bear?
If disciples have completely entrusted their hearts to God, then it is clear to them that they cannot serve two masters. They simply cannot. It is impossible in discipleship. It would be tempting to demonstrate one’s Christian cleverness and experience by showing that one did know how to serve both masters, mammon [wealth] and God, by giving each their limited due. Why shouldn’t we, who are God’s children, also be joyous children of this world, who enjoy God’s good gifts and receive their treasures as God’s blessings? God and world, God and earthly goods are against each other, because the world and its goods reach for our hearts. Only when they have won our hearts are they really what they are. Without our hearts, earthly goods and the world mean nothing. They live off our hearts. In that way they are against God. We can give our hearts in complete love only to one object, we can cling only to one master. Whatever opposes this love falls into hatred. According to Jesus’ word, there can be only love or hate toward God. If we do not love God, then we hate God. There is no in-between. That is the way God is, and that is what makes God be God, that we can only love or hate God. Only one or the other option is possible. Either you love God or you love the goods of the world. If you love the world, you hate God; if you love God, you hate the world. It does not matter at all whether you intend to do it or whether you know what you are doing. Of course, you will not intend to do so, and you will probably not know what you are doing. It is much more likely that you do not intend what you do; you just intend to serve both masters. You intend to love God and goods, so you will always view it as an untruth that you hate God. You love God, you think. But by loving God and also the goods of the world, our love for God is actually hate; our eye no longer views things simply, and our heart is no longer in communion with Jesus. Whether it is your intention or not, it cannot be otherwise. You cannot serve two masters, you who are following Jesus.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matt. 6:25–34).
Do not worry! Earthly goods deceive the human heart into believing that they give it security and freedom from worry. But in truth, they are what cause anxiety. The heart which clings to goods receives with them the choking burden of worry. Worry collects treasures, and treasures produce more worries. We desire to secure our lives with earthly goods; we want our worrying to make us worry-free, but the truth is the opposite. The chains which bind us to earthly goods, the clutches which hold the goods tight, are themselves worries.
Abuse of earthly goods consists of using them as a security for the next day. Worry is always directed toward tomorrow. But the goods are intended only for today in the strictest sense. It is our securing things for tomorrow which makes us so insecure today. It is enough that each day should have its own troubles. Only those who put tomorrow completely into God’s hand and receive fully today what they need for their lives are really secure. Receiving daily liberates me from tomorrow. The thought of tomorrow gives me endless worries. “Do not worry about tomorrow”—that is either cruel ridicule of the poor and suffering, whom Jesus is addressing, of all those who—in human perspective—will starve tomorrow if they do not worry today; it is either an intolerable law that people will reject and detest or it is the unique gospel proclamation of the freedom of God’s children, who have a Father in heaven, who has given them the gift of his dear Son. Will he not with him also give us everything else?
“Do not worry about tomorrow”—we should not understand that to be human wisdom or a law. The only way to understand it is as the gospel of Jesus Christ. Only those disciples who have recognized Jesus can receive from this word an affirmation of the love of the Father of Jesus Christ and liberation from all things. It is not worrying which makes disciples worry-free; it is faith in Jesus Christ. Now they know: we cannot worry (v. 27). The next day, the next hour is completely out of our hands’ reach. It is meaningless to behave as if we could worry. We can change nothing about the conditions of the world. Only God can change the conditions, for example, a body’s height, for God rules the world. Because we cannot worry, because we are so powerless, we should not worry. Worrying means taking God’s rule onto ourselves.
Disciples know not only that they may not and cannot worry, but also that they need not worry. It is not worry, it is not even work which produces daily bread, but God the Father. The birds and the lilies do not work and spin, but they are fed and clothed; they receive their daily share without worry. They need the goods of the world only for daily life. They do not collect them. By not collecting they praise the creator, not by their industry, their work, their worry, but by receiving daily and simply the gifts God gives. That is how birds and lilies become examples for disciples. Jesus dissolves the connection between work and food, which is conceived in terms of cause and effect apart from God. He does not value daily bread as the reward for work. Instead, he speaks of the carefree simplicity of those who follow the ways of Jesus and receive everything from God.
“Now no animal works for its living, but each has its own task to perform, after which it seeks and finds its food. The little birds fly about and warble, make nests, and hatch their young. That is their task. But they do not gain their living from it. Oxen plow, horses carry their riders and have a share in battle; sheep furnish wool, milk, cheese, and so on. That is their task. But they do not gain their living from it. It is the earth which produces grass and nourishes them through God’s blessing.… Similarly, man must necessarily work and busy himself at something. At the same time, however, he must know that it is something other than his labor which furnishes him sustenance; it is the divine blessing. Because God gives him nothing unless he works, it may seem as if it is his labor which sustains him; just as the little birds neither sow nor reap, but they would certainly die of hunger if they did not fly about to seek their food. The fact that they find food, however, is not due to their own labor, but to God’s goodness. For who placed their food there where they can find it?… For where God has not laid up a supply no one will find anything, even though they all work themselves to death searching.” (Luther) But if the creator sustains birds and lilies, won’t the Father also feed his children, who daily ask him to do so? Shouldn’t God give them what they need for their daily lives, God, to whom all the goods of the earth belong and who can distribute them according to God’s own pleasure? “God give me every day as much as I need to live. He gives it to the birds on the roof, how should he not give it to me?” (Claudius).
Worry is the concern of nonbelievers, who rely on their strength and work, but not on God. Nonbelievers are worriers, because they do not know that the Father knows what their needs are. So they intend to get for themselves what they do not expect from God. But disciples are to “strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” This makes clear that concern for food and clothing is not yet concern for the kingdom of God, as we would like to understand it. We would like to consider performing our work for our families and ourselves, our worrying for food and a place to live and sleep, to be the same thing as striving for the kingdom of God, as if striving for the kingdom took place only in the context of those concerns. The kingdom of God and God’s righteousness are something entirely different from the gifts of the world that are to come to us. It is nothing other than the righteousness about which Matthew 5 and 6 have spoken, the righteousness of the cross of Christ and discipleship under the cross. Communion with Jesus and obedience to his commandment come first; then everything else follows. There is no blending of the two; one follows the other. Striving for the righteousness of Christ stands ahead of the cares of our lives for food and clothing, or for job and family. This is the most exacting summary of everything which has been said before. This word of Jesus, like the commandment not to worry, is either an unbearable burden, an impossible destruction of human existence for the poor and suffering—or it is the gospel itself, which can make us completely free and completely joyous. Jesus is not speaking of what people should do but cannot do. Rather, he is speaking of what God has granted us and continues to promise us. If Christ has been given to us, if we are called to follow him, then everything, everything indeed is given us with him. Everything else shall be given to us. Those who in following Jesus look only to his righteousness are in the care and protection of Jesus Christ and his Father. Nothing can harm those who are thus in communion with the Father; they cannot doubt that the Father will feed his children and will not let them starve. God will help them at the right time. God knows what we need.
Jesus’ disciples, even after having followed him for a long time, will be able to answer the question, “Were you ever in need?” with “Lord, never!” How could they suffer need who in hunger and nakedness, persecution and danger are confident of their community with Jesus Christ?
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship