jesus_helping

God: Nice Thought or More?

Back in April, I was thinking about how people think and act about God. Later, I saw a commercial of a show that Morgan Freeman was narrating about who God is across cultures. Watching the promo, I noticed a pattern emerge. To many of them, God was a concept, an abstraction that made them feel good.

Is that the reason many professing Christians aren’t standing out that well in a broken world? Like the rocky soil in Mark 4:16-17, they accept the thought with joy. Did you accept Jesus with a good feeling but no real life change?

A good feeling is temporary, an intangible thought doesn’t trigger change unless it’s accepted wholeheartedly. A term going around for it is practical atheism–where someone believes in God, but behaves like there is no God. He’s just a concept to them, like charity is something that is nice.

Do you fit God into your life when you find the time?

May I be so bold as to say it should be flipped?

God isn’t a concept. He’s the sovereign creator of the universe. A nice thought doesn’t get you through life’s struggles, the emptiness, none of it. That requires something bigger than you. I was told to have faith in my darkest time. Faith is having a trust in something. A nice thought that requires something or someone.

When God arrives, what I call a Godquake happens, everything is shaken up. An overwhelming feeling occurs, your heart breaks as it feels like everything is being pulled out. Then the dirt is scraped off, the gunk poured out, and it’s put back as good as new.

God is so big that when he comes in, things get knocked over.

It can happen at church during altar calls for prayer. It can happen in your home during a really good time in prayer and praise. I don’t cry, for me to shed a tear is rare. I was raised that it wasn’t manly, a foolish thought that was conditioned in me. But I cried so hard in my office at home that I couldn’t see while singing At The Cross (Love Ran Red).

Why?

Because it’s personal, more than a nice thought. Look at the chorus:

🎶At the cross
At the cross
I surrender my life
I’m in awe of You
I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
And my sin washed white
I owe all to You
I owe all to You Jesus🎶

My life was surrendered to Jesus, I had done a great job at screwing it up. The fact that he put me back together is awesome because of why he did it. It wasn’t anything I deserved, yet he took the hit for me. Everything I had done wrong doesn’t weigh on me. Now it’s a cautionary reminder of where I came from. I truly owe all to him, he saved my life.

Yes, it’s a gift I can’t repay, and I follow him in gratitude for what was done and is being done now. It’s not like a codependent parent bailing you out again and again that you can call when needed. He picks us up, knocks off the dirt, and says follow me. 

You do follow then. Life is shaken up and you fit in his agenda rather than Jesus fitting in yours. God is the priority, so everything else is seen as a loss in comparison.

An idea cannot do that for long. Like a new toy, it’s forgotten after a while. It requires grabbing onto someone, not something. Life changes when we embrace two people, and is never the same.

Your spouse.

Your child.

With both, your dreams and priorities change. It includes them now, their needs come before yours. That’s what it’s like with a relationship with Jesus, things change.

He’s the perfect spouse, selflessly giving you what you need. Because of that, you listen and go with him wherever you go. Like it’s obvious you’re married, it should be obvious by how your life is now that Jesus is a part of it.

To see what the self-sacrificial love of God is like, look at a parent’s relationship to their kids. What would you do for your kids? What would you do to protect them?

Anything. And instruct them to stay away from things that can hurt them.

It’s the same with God. Do you know Him like that?

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Defeating Busyness on the Road to Nowhere

Have you ever felt like a hamster on a wheel going nowhere, no matter how hard you run? I watch stacks of books to read grow, hours at work increase, and time to enjoy myself decrease. It’s pretty miserable.

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Summer Streets 2011: Human Hamster Wheel

 

I remembered something Tim Ferriss said on a podcast once about conducting an 80/20 analysis. First, let me explain what 80/20 means. It’s the Pareto Principle where 20% of your actions result in 80% of the results. It’s the minimum effective dose. What does that look like in application?

Enter the 80/20 analysis.

Matt Bodnar has a post titled How To Perform An 80/20 Analysis. Check it out. I did it myself and these were the results.

  • Which 20% of my reading covers 80% of my knowledge?

The Bible, how-to books, broad books on just one big question. Because of that, I began to revisit books that I had learned a lot from before and always return to for reference. While reading new books is great, five new ones came in last month, but I need to get a really good understanding of the ones I use the most. A lot of them are on the Equipping the Saints page.

  • What 20% of my income do we need to live?

It’s obviously more than that. My books don’t fly off the shelf and I’m giving away the last one I wrote. However, our budget is set up where we can live off of less than 40 hours a week of my income.

I say that because the further you go up the ladder, the more time a company wants from you it seems. Or you have a lot of expenses so you need more than 40 hours. Because of that, I don’t plan on going much higher, takes away too much time at home. If push came to shove, I would be fine back on the floor. People matter more than a high salary and/or overtime.

  • What 20% of my time brings me 80% of my happiness?

Friends, home time, and working with my wife in ministries. The fact that she’s almost as involved as me is wonderful.

Find the 20, then focus on the 20. I plan on looking at this a bit deeper. As I typed this, I thought of the two greatest commandments. Summed up, love God and love people. Those two sum up the entirety of the moral law. Not a one of the 10 Commandments doesn’t fall under them. 80/20.

What’s yours?

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What To Do When You Can’t Sense God

Some things are probably left buried. Except they have a tendency to rise from the dead. I got the “brilliant” idea to check my progress and revisit the last months of 2013 when everything changed. Sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, I read the first three chapters of A Ronin’s Journey, the book project I’m working on now.

Those three chapters contain the immediate aftermath of the death of my godson. When I looked up, the unshed tears were blurring my vision. I was emotionally drained, three months in thirty minutes. In hindsight, it wasn’t the best idea. I had picked a scab and it started to bleed again.

It threw me out of whack as the memories flooded back and bowled me over. I had wanted to remember the root of it all and I got it in spades. The agnosticism, tragedy, introspection, more funerals than I care to count, criminal record, a life spiralling out of control and failure.

Waking up the next morning, I felt like there was a divide inside me. An emptiness, God on the fringes barely noticeable. Think of the sun on a thick, cloudy day, the light is there but the source isn’t as evident. I remembering hearing that this happens sometimes, and taking a principle Jesus told his disciples, I remembered what he had done in the past.

I began by searching my notes from 2014, like the Beatitude notes, when I went through the 19 Mercies from the Ragamuffin Gospel, and the sixteen page Gospel Epic I explored “How Much Does God Love Me?” I began to feel better, the gap was starting to close. Maybe I could even write again?

No. The divide wasn’t quite gone yet

I searched a favorite site, GotQuestions.org, asking about spiritual emptiness. First, for any born-again Christian, it’s a feeling but will never be a fact. Every follower of Christ is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Why I was feeling it, I don’t know.

The answer included four steps to help.

  1. Desire to be directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit. So I took a walk and prayed for just that.
  2. Confess anything I did wrong and ask for forgiveness for anything known or unknown.
  3. Present every area of my life to God for control. I made another lap of the plant, going through my mental checklist. What would God have me do at work, home, on the blog, with friends, and at church?
  4. I moved on, accepting the promises of the Holy Spirit, and asking according to His will.

Whatever caused it, whatever the reason, all I know is I got God “back” after going through the process over the week. He encourages us to look for and ask repeatedly. By it, we learn reliance on Him. That empty feeling was horrible and a reminder of how much I need God. I don’t want to go through that again.

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What’s Holding Back Those Who’ve Thought It Through?

We’ve gotten to the final post of this series where we’ve been analyzing and answering why some people aren’t listening to the case for Christ. We’ve explored the systematic processing error that is cognitive biases, that three types of conscious unbelievers from Tim Keller’s book Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism and Mark 4:15, are prone to. The types are the willfully rebellious, the unreasonable skeptic, and the willfully ignorant. The final type we’ll look at is different; they’re genuine.

8815533744_fa7fe5a687_zIt’s the person that is aware of most of, if not all, their biases. They’ve examined the evidence, dived into the philosophy, the theology, and how it fits with the world. They have come to their conclusions with well thought out reasons for not accepting it. They still consider every new piece of information that comes to light.

So, what could be stopping them?

Maybe they want a smoking gun piece of evidence. Or a voice from heaven directed to them in a public place. They could be putting their trust in science, believing that it will figure out the mysteries we have currently in the future.

There may be another reason.

Say you’ve read Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Then you watched every one of William Lane Craig’s debates on YouTube. You checked bibliographies, read opposing views by Bart Ehrman, Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins. You may think the evidence for is better than the evidence against.

That leaves you with a decision to make. To accept it, or reject it. Intellectually, you accept that Jesus and God are real. All the points lead to this being true, so what happens if you accept and put your trust in Jesus as a person and not a concept alone?

What does it mean if the God the inference of the evidence matches the God of the Bible who created everything?

What does it mean when you see thousands of years of prophecies are pointing to one historical figure, Jesus of Nazareth? The same person that history records being killed by crucifixion. That there was a darkness and earthquake as recorded by an extrabiblical source. That no one can see the body of Jesus because it’s not in the tomb or an ossuary. The disciples that claimed to see him and died because of it when rejection would’ve saved them. That James and Paul, hardened skeptics, believed after seeing him after he died.

It means there must’ve been some truth to his words. That he was the Son of God here to die for you so you can have eternal life. If you accept that, what does it mean for you?

That you or any other person are an accident of nature?

Or that you have tremendous value.

God wants a relationship with you.

Your world will not be the same.

It’s the last part that worries people. If no one is an accident, then it follows that they were created for a purpose. If God the Son incarnated as a man to pay the penalty for your sins on the cross, then you must be incredibly valuable to him. So is your best friend, and your worst enemy.

If you follow Jesus and do as he says, it won’t always be rainbows and puppies. You’ll see this life as a fleeting moment in light of eternity. Because you’ve been forgiven, you’ll be called to forgive. You’ll have to let go of hate, grudges, and anger, it’s a process, and on this side of it, I can tell you it’s easier than you think.

You’ll have a new nature, and as you grow, the old you will start to flake off, exposing someone pristine underneath. Is it fear that keeps you away? Fear of the change? Or the desire to not let go of something or someone you know isn’t good for you?

In the end, it still falls to a heart issue. Do you have a heart issue? Is it due to an ‘all about me’ attitude? Maybe it’s an anger issue? What is it? Ask yourself that.

The Willfully Ignorant

The Willfully Ignorant

We’ve been looking at the receptiveness, or lack of it, in people over the course of the past two posts. The idea came from the Parable of the Sower in Mark 4:14-20. We’re looking in particular at verse 15, the conscious unbelievers.

Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.

To recap, we’ve looked at those who are willfully rejecting Christ, and the heart issues underneath it that are fueling their biases. Then we looked at those that reject the evidence of Christ out of hand without much consideration. This comes with it’s own set of biases.

Remember, cognitive biases are from a system error in our thought processes like memory, attention, and attribution. It’s a two-edged sword, sometimes shortcuts are necessary, like making decisions in the face of a charging lion. You don’t put much thought in that. In this post, we’re going to look where I suspect many people fall, rejection due to imitation.

It’s not much of a secret that our attention spans are shorter. The internet is a blessing and a curse. All the information is a click away, available, and you don’t have to remember it. We also don’t really think through things as thoroughly as we used to.

We collect information, mash it up, and spout it without much, if any, fact checking. Who has time for that? I have cat videos to watch on Facebook. It’s opinion by consensus.

One of the most obvious biases at play is the bandwagon effect. If you’ve heard the term, then you probably know what it means. Adopting a belief because others do. Paul quotes the Greek poet, Menander, in 1st Corinthians 15:33 when he writes, “Bad company corrupts good character.” That’s the same principle in effect with the bandwagon effect.

A bias that isn’t obvious to anyone is the blindspot bias. We see others’ biases much easier than our own. Try this, look for your own biases and find ways to counteract them. The anchoring bias is one I have to watch for. That’s why I stressed thinking like a detective in the last post.

Stereotyping is another bias; it fits a mental profile on the first impression, so the person goes with it. Blondes are dumb, people with glasses are smart (people thought that about me until I showed them my report card), and gingers have no soul. All Latinos are here illegally, black people steal, Democrats hate America, Republicans love war and want Jesus for president. It goes on and on and on. It’s pervasive.

These at the heart are blind group think. Sadly, they’re found in every group. They either haven’t vetted the information or have never been taught. Bible verses are taken out of context, without anyone looking beyond it. I run into that a lot more than I would care to. For example, loving your enemies (Matthew 5:44) ties into loving your neighbor (Luke 10:27), who your neighbor is (Luke 10:25-37), and which of the four Greek words used for love is used in those verses.

The willfully ignorant won’t go deeper than that.The Willfully Ignorant

Then it’s justified with the confirmation and selective perception biases. The last two posts covered the confirmation bias. Selective perception is allowing our expectations to influence our perceptions.  You expect the opposing sports team to cheat so you see “every infraction” and suspect the referees were bought off.

There is a saying that you’ll find what you look for. Someone cuts you off in traffic, well they’re obviously a jerk. What you may not know is that their kid was bit by a snake and they’re rushing to the ER.

Being willfully ignorant is at the heart of rejecting Christ by consensus. You have to learn about and meet him before passing judgment.  This type is the opposite of our final type that we’ll go over in the next post. In it we’ll look at those who “have their decision and these are the reasons why.” With it, we’ll close the four part series.

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When Skepticism Leads to a Closed Mind

In the previous post, we looked at the cognitive biases of the mind and the underlying heart issues. Remember, a cognitive bias is a processing glitch. Jesus characterized the type we’re looking at as the “Path” or “Road” soil, nothing gets in, from Mark 4. We’re still looking at verse 15, “Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.

 

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The last post was about those who say, ‘I know and I don’t care’. This one is about the type that says, “it can’t be proven” or “it’s false”. It stems mostly from a rebellion of the mind, and it can get tribal. Politics is a good example of that.

 

In this issue—rejecting Christ—there are six biases in play:

The anchoring bias, going with and allowing the first piece of information to influence you. Suppose you see a link on Facebook that says Jesus is a copycat of pagan myths. Everything you see after that is shaded in that lens despite any evidence to the contrary. You dropped your mental anchor on that piece of information.

Rather than dropping anchor, be a detective, make a note of it and continue the search for evidence. Then see where it leads. Pull a piece out, see if it changes direction or is still the same conclusion. I wrote about that in Investigating Christianity. Once we fixate, the next bias tends to feed that fixation.

The confirmation bias, only listening to information that confirms our preconceptions. It’s evident everywhere in daily life. You research a car you always wanted, that brand is the best ever, despite the amount of recalls on it. Your boyfriend is so nice, he’s the one, everyone saying he’s been going behind your back is lying. A good Christian casemaker doesn’t ignore the arguments against Christianity, they evaluate them. Investigating all the evidence and coming to a reasonable conclusion is how to defeat it.

The choice-supportive bias ties into it a bit, it’s where you feel good about a choice despite its flaws. Your spouse hits you sometimes, but they’re “not that bad”. These are dangerous biases that go down to a tribal level.

It’s seen in politics a lot, where a politician you like makes decisions you wouldn’t tolerate from another, yet you still support them. This is why I don’t play in politics anymore, the blind tribalism got tiring. Where do these point? What’s the center of it?

It’s the emotional investment in select information. The stronger you feel about something, the less engaged your neocortex‒the logical part of your brain‒is. It creates an emotional blind spot. Belief is fine, but only after reasoning through all the evidence, not just a single piece.

The availability heuristic is also at play, basing a judgment on limited info that leads to poor estimates. We all should all watch for it. On a personal level, it’s when you only have a limited side of the story. On a bigger scale, it will help you if you picture a circle. That’s the world of information. Place a smaller circle inside it. That’s the information that you have in comparison. It can lead to nihilism.

The Greek philosopher Socrates said, “The only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing.” Skeptics love this quote. It’s good to question. However, at a certain point, it’s reasonable to accept something when it’s beyond a reasonable doubt. Face it, we’ll always have questions.

If we don’t have questions and accept something wholeheartedly, then it may be the bandwagon effect at work. That bias is where you accept a belief because others do. Tribalism again. Do you go one way because of your friends or family? Or did you jump from one bandwagon to another?

Recency is the tendency to weigh newer information heavier than older data. The danger is that the older information was heavily evaluated and yet still stands firm. The gnostic gospels, for example, are dated later than the four in the Bible. Mark was written within 10-20 years of Jesus’ death and resurrection. So was Luke, it was written before he wrote Acts, which documented Paul’s travels before his execution in AD68. Look in the New International Version of the Bible, and you’ll see footnotes and sections where scholars show where different words or phrases are used, and what sections aren’t in the earliest manuscripts. Contrary to popular belief, the Bible is a very heavily evaluated book.

The core of these last three biases is decisions from limited information and peer pressure. It depends on the depth of one’s thought. We can make a claim, but it takes more work to support it with reason. Have you noticed the sliding scale of intensity, from deep to shallow. There’s a surprising depth to it.

I have two more subtypes to examine and not enough space. Next week we’ll continue with the imitator and the thinker types. My question for you is do you fall into any of these subtypes or know someone who does?

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Speaking With the Stubborn

Have you ever tried to persuade someone and nothing changes their mind? You appeal to their emotions, form logical arguments, present every piece of evidence short of a video. Facebook is really bad when it comes to memes that are so easy to knock down, and when you do, nothing changes. It’s frustrating.

The answer is simple and complex. There are at least two ways to look at this. They’re obstinately hard-headed, or there are deeper issues at play. We’re going to dig. It’s important for a few reasons: first, it’ll identify our own issues; secondly, we’ll understand the person we’re talking to; and thirdly, we’ll be able to speak to them on a deeper level rather than talking at them.

Jesus taught a parable about a sower scattering seeds through a field. Some landed on the road, some in the rocks, some in the weeds, and some in the good soil. The sower is us when we talk about the Gospel and the seed is the Gospel.  We’re focusing and going deeper on verse 15 in Mark 4; “Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.

Tim Keller in his book Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism breaks down the four soils described in the parable even further. I’m going to look at it from a different perspective, from our cognitive biases. We all have them, and even our biases have biases. If you want your brain to hurt, look them up, find yours and find a way to combat them.

What is a cognitive bias? It’s a mental system error in our thought processes like memory, attention, and attribution that affects judgment. It’s when the mind takes shortcuts to reach decisions.

They’re not the same as logical fallacies. That comes from errors in a logical argument. Logic can help in mitigating biases. However, we make too many quick decisions to think that we’re thinking logically all the time. Those decisions are generally in the lower levels of the brain. That’s not a bad thing, some decisions need to be made quickly, like when jerking the wheel of the car to avoid hitting something.

The first type of receptiveness is characterized by the hard packed road. Nothing is getting in. Tim calls those of this type the conscious unbelievers, skeptics, and rejectors of the faith. Then he breaks this group into five subtypes. We’re looking at the first subtype in this post, those in willful rebellion. Is that you?

Willful Rebellion

This type knows, or think they know, but just don’t care. In this, several biases are at play. 366927039_0a227467f4_zStarting with the Overconfidence bias–too confident in their own abilities, thinking they don’t need God. That was me at one point.

Personal Preference bias–how we perceive our actions as opposed to what we see others do. Humans are really good at rationalizing and justifying bad behavior that we wouldn’t accept from others. Yeah, been there too.

Self-Serving bias–when things are good, it’s because of our intelligence and abilities. When things are bad, though? Well…we just didn’t have control over that, it’s not our fault. Sometimes that is the case; it also means that sometimes we did mess up.

Blind Spot bias–not even seeing our biases, a scary one. This holds the others together, where while I can spot your particular biases a mile away, I can’t see my own. That’s why I issued the challenge earlier to explore and combat your biases.

These four biases, distilled to their essences, point to an underlying heart issue. They all stem from our focus on ourselves to the point we have essentially put ourselves in God’s place. Then we justify it with four more biases.

False Consensus–the overestimation of how many people agree with us. We hear it when someone says, “Well, everyone knows…” and you can probably finish the sentence. It can happen when we surround ourselves with others like us, so everyone else must be the same as our group, right? Broaden your horizons, serve and eat with the homeless, speak with the powerful, comfort the hurting, and hold a conversation with someone from a different culture.

This rolls over into the Bandwagon bias, which is essentially, “everyone else is doing it so I will too.” Whenever someone presents contradictory information, it’s ignored in favor of what we want to hear. We’re all in danger of that one, especially on the information superhighway.

The final bias for this type is Selective Perception. It’s where we allow our expectations to influence our perceptions. Think about the time someone said, ‘Of course they did that, they’re ________.’ Or how about this, are you an optimist or a pessimist?

These boiled down show our heart’s desire for justification. In this type, it’s justifying their self-centeredness. There is hope for this type, though it’s not anything that we can do other than praying for them.

Here’s why, it’s a heart issue, something at their core that needs changed. We can change minds, but we cannot change the hearts of others. While we can work on our own hearts, it’s a holding action. A better option is a heart transplant.

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9 NIV

We’ve seen how far it will go to hold us in place. Here’s how it can be fixed.

“And I will give them one heart [a new heart] and I will put a new spirit within them; and I will take the stony [unnaturally hardened] heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh [sensitive and responsive to the touch of their God],” Ezekiel 11:19 AMP

God is the heart surgeon that is able to help the sick in heart. Some say be true to yourself, however, what if you’re a horrible person? Should you still stay true to yourself? Or will you justify it in pseudo-spiritual language like, “God knows my heart.”

He does, and that should concern you as we’ve seen above. The only time it shouldn’t is when with your heart–the core of your being–you put your trust in and rely on Jesus. Then there will be true justification before God (Romans 10:10).

This was going to be one post on the five subtypes, but we dug so deep that for the sake of time, I’ll split it up. The next post will deal less with the heart and more with the head.

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Searching For Fulfillment

People look their whole lives for the thing that will fulfill them. It could be a high-paying career in a Fortune 500 company. It may be prestige and celebrity. Meeting that special someone that makes your whole world stop. Happiness, pleasure, love, family, all great things, all temporary things unfortunately.

If it could all be met in one thing, wouldn’t you want it? What if it was also temporary, would it be worth it then? What if you could have something enduring and eternal?

To set the stage, Jesus just fed over 5,000 people, and the word got out. Soon more arrived in the area after he and the disciples left looking for a free meal. Who doesn’t like free food? However, when they found Jesus, he called them on it.

“Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” John 6:26 NIV

They were thinking of the present, and while important, that’s not all there is. Jesus told them there was more.

Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” John 6:27 NIV

What Does That Even Mean?

They asked the same question. What kind of food? What kind of work? What’s the catch?

It was pretty much hand-to-mouth, so it wasn’t the easiest life. The poor begged and gathered food from the uncut edges of the fields to sustain life (Leviticus 19:10; 23:22).

They had to work for it. So what kind of work was Jesus talking about that lasts for eternity? The prevailing thoughts these days is if you do your best, then you can walk through the Pearly Gates or you get a second chance and reincarnate. Both depend on your efforts.

Jesus said the work of God is only one thing.

It’s simple, and surprisingly hard. I like how the Amplified Bible puts verse 29. Want to know what you have to do to have eternal life?

“Jesus replied, This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent [that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger].”

It’s true that you’re saved by grace through faith alone. In non-Christianese, it means you’re saved because of the love of Jesus if you trust him to. However, that’s the work involved, you have to take that step and trust him.

If It’s So Easy, Then Why Aren’t People Doing It?

Great question. For now, read the fourth chapter of Mark. I will admit, it’s something that bothers me, too. I may do a series of posts on it from Mark 4, looking at the four types of soils-the receptiveness of people. It’s not hopeless, though; there’s been a way made for you.

When we do this work, we get the Bread of Life, which is a metaphor for Jesus. In John 4, when he was speaking with the woman at the well, he told her about living water. He sure loved his food metaphors, didn’t he? Why?

Consider this, people look for a physical need to be met. The Jews wanted food so they would live. You need food or water so you won’t die. Eternal life requires something more than Wonder Bread and Evian.

Have you taken Communion, also known as The Lord’s Supper? Jesus told them he is the Bread of Life. In Luke 22:19, he broke the Passover bread and said, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Because of him, eternal life is available. It’s a symbol that shows the sufficiency of Jesus to meet those needs we desperately long for.

Why Is It So Hard To Believe That?

It was an issue then as it is now. Jesus said, “But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.” (John 6:36.) It’s a number of factors: nothing is free so I have to do something, don’t see the evidence, don’t believe the evidence. It could also be more of a heart issue rather than a head issue.

You want to do things your way. Or, you’re angry at God or someone who says they follow him. Maybe you consider all religion as bad without considering their fundamental cores.

God still calls to people, though, regardless. It’s what Jesus meant in John 6:37; 6:40. There are four ways God calls to you:

  1. Through the Holy Spirit.When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. John 16: 8-11 NIV
  2. Nature (natural theology): “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20 NIV
  3. The Moral Law: “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” Romans 3:19-20 NIV
  4. The Conscience: “(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)” Romans 2:14-15 NIV

            “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.For in my              inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against                the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.” Romans            7:21-23 NIV

We rebel at the thought, but as we step closer, the hostility fades. The seed starts to take root because the ground is ready. When it sprouts, then you’ll be secure.

We fear losing security. Our jobs, homes, families, and lives; loss of any of these is absolutely devastating. John 6:37 though is a beautiful promise once you have a relationship with Jesus: “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.

You could be the perfect spouse, and still your loved one wants a divorce. A top-earning salesman that is still laid off during budget cuts. World’s greatest parent, and your kids hate you.

Jesus says you could be the worst husband, steal from work, and neglect your kids; he still wants you, and despite all your failings, he won’t reject you once you come to him. He also won’t let you stay that person.

Those personal failings and issues we fight, he’s there, knocking off the rough edges and polishing you up. The Creator of the universe says, “surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” He keeps his promises, too.

Creator. Sustainer. Alpha and Omega. Savior. Lord. Friend. Brother. In him there is life eternal. Lonely? In him you have a friend that is also family, he’s your brother. Lost? He is the Lord that will lead the way. A nobody? Because of him you’re adopted into the family of God. You’re a child of God, heir with Christ, who is the beginning and the end. Every need of importance is met in Jesus, just come to him and he’ll never turn you away.