Have you ever been rejected because someone misunderstood you? Don’t feel alone. Nearly all of us have at one time or another. Sometimes we mean well but don’t communicate very accurately. We hurt other people’s feelings or unknowingly insult them. And we lose friends because of it. This is exactly what happened to Jesus.
“From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him” (John 6:66).
Crowds had been following Him. He was like a rock star. But His parables began to be too hard. “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” (John 6:60) they asked. But Jesus didn’t back down, and made the language even harder. Why didn’t Jesus see He was turning the followers off. Why didn’t He just soften His words a little? Perhaps this was all a test.
After the crowds had wandered away, shaking their heads, Jesus asked His disciples, “You do not want to leave, too, do you?” (John 6:67). To which Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68-69).
The life lesson is obvious. We don’t have to understand His words, but we must believe and stay faithful. Don’t ever stop following, no matter what. Where else are you going to find answers?
You can’t play any kind of game without some rules. In baseball, you’ve got to touch all the bases. In basketball, you can’t carry the ball outside the foul lines. In golf, you’ve got to play the ball where it lies. Its no fun playing with someone who doesn’t play by the rules.
Rules in life can be called boundaries. Everyone needs to know what the boundaries are and must respect those boundaries. My grandkids learned early on what “No touch” means. It means there is a boundary here that you may not cross.
But, if the boundary is only in my head and not spoken, others may not know where your boundaries are. So, identifying the boundaries early on is important. Those boundaries need to be identified in business, in dating, and in hospitality. My wife and I took years learning how to respect each others’ boundaries.
Sometimes people in the church cross the boundaries. Staying too long, saying too much, and crossing ethical lines are all forms of crossing the boundaries. Raise the bar high and establish your boundaries and you will limit the hurt Satan can bring into your life.
Last week Dish Network booted CNN coverage from their satellite network. Bummer! I enjoyed CNN coverage because I felt it was less biased than several other news networks. FOX tends to be too right wing and MSNBC tends to be too left wing. CNN seemed to be fairly neutral. What now?
With the coverage of the shootings in Ottawa last week I began searching for another news network that would give balanced coverage, and guess what I found? Al Jazeera America (the Arabic news network). They were quick to tell us that the shooter was a recent convert to Islam. And that the running down of soldiers earlier that day nearby was also done by a recent convert to Islam. The other news networks were afraid to mention that the first day. So, until CNN gets back on the air, I think I’ll watch Al Jareeza America. They seem to be balanced in their reporting and haven’t tried to mislead us yet.
There is one media source that I am an extremist on, however, and that’s the Bible. I really don’t want to be ‘balanced’ in my understanding of God’s Word. Because I want to know what He’s saying to believers in the 21st Century, I take what He says literally whenever possible. Let me be remembered as a man who took the Word seriously.
What news coverage do you watch?
Hebrew poetry is a major part of the Bible. The style is to say the same thing (or opposite thing) twice, using picturesque terms, and often word analogies, or word pictures. The Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon (known as the Poetic Books) are all written using this Hebrew style, as well as many other parts of the Old Testament and New Testament. Here is a great example from Psalm 32:1-2:
Blessed is he
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man
whose sin the Lord does not count against him
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
Often, some meaning is lost in the translation, but understanding the style used helps us understand the meaning, such as the last line in each verse: “whose sins are covered”, and “in whose spirit is no deceit”. To cover up something would be deceit, thus saying the same thing. But, in this translation we would think that having one’s sins covered is entirely different from having no deceit in one’s spirit. But, understanding the Hebrew poetry style, it helps us interpret better what the original author meant. The next time you read one of these Old Testament books, watch for the poetry.
Have you ever seen two Christians fighting with each other? Its a sad scene for the lost to behold. The Book of Galatians records such an encounter between the Apostles Paul and Peter, two of the founders of the faith.
“When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray” (Galatians 2:11-13).
Peter was shown by God that he was not to call anyone unclean when God had made them clean (Acts 11:9). And yet here he was showing favoritism to Jewish converts and shunning Gentile converts. That made Paul angry and he confronted Peter because of his hypocrisy. And the saddest part of the story is that Barnabus, an idealistic new believer, was led astray by Peter’s prejudiced behavior.
And that whole dispute is recorded to teach us a valuable lesson for today: Don’t favor any one group of Christian converts over another. We’re all saved by grace.
Bill Massey passed away Thursday morning. Bill was a faithful head usher on Saturday nights and we will miss him.
Bill first started attending New Hope several years ago and was surely rough around the edges. He was a truck driver through and through. But about three years ago he had a change come into his life. I remember him coming to the altar one Saturday night. The Holy Spirit had gotten a hold of him and he wept like a baby. He understood forgiveness and completely surrendered his life to Him. It was a dramatic turn around.
He openly began to talk about what the Lord had done for him and eagerly began to look for ways to serve the Lord. God soon connected him to Janett (Brunger), a recent widow, and they were subsequently married.
Bill is an example of a changed life and I will miss his encouraging words.
What do you remember about Bill Massey?
Pioneers are those who go ahead of others. They blaze the trail. They fight the enemies. They discover the shortcuts. Pioneers go slow, but others follow much more quickly.
John the Baptist was such a forerunner. Jesus spent His 3-year ministry preparing the 12 disciples to be spiritual pioneers; to blaze the trail for others to follow. He sent them ahead to prepare the way.
“Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ They replied, ‘The Lord needs it’.” (Luke 19:32-34).
These disciples who were sent ahead were expected to smooth the way for He who came after, Jesus. When they encountered difficulty (Why are you untying the colt?), they had an answer: “The Lord needs it“.
I listen for those words every day. “The Lord needs it” has precedent over my needs any day. Listen carefully and you’ll hear that reply come from many sources. Jesus cannot do what He’s come to do without disciples who will go ahead. Be a Pioneer.