So, we made it through another holiday season! It’s been a while since I contributed to this blog, but in my last post I talked a bit about experiencing the holidays as “holy-days”. It seems to me, that shift of experience from a hectic mess of getting things done during the holiday to that of experiencing the love, joy, and wholeness of God, can only occur if we “Come to Jesus“. That is the title to the sermon I’ll be preaching tomorrow (2/9/20). But how does one do that? How do we come to Jesus? And, even more importantly, how do we keep coming to Jesus? I mean it’s one thing to say/think something along the lines of, ‘Oh, I came to Jesus years ago when I first submitted to Him as my Lord” (i.e. “I got “saved”). Well, that’s fine and good, but I need Jesus in my life everyday and so do you. How do we come to Him when He seems absent? How do we come to Him when we’re pretty sure He could never like or love us anymore? I don’t have all answers (!), but in I Peter 2:4, after we have been reminded in verse 3 that “we have tasted that the Lord is good/kind”, we are now to ‘keep coming to him, . . .” Peter, you see, wants to “encourage and testify” to His readers, the “true grace of God” so they can “stand fast in it” (I Peter 5:12) . From this I gather at least the following about coming to Jesus again and again: I cannot do this apart from the grace of God. And, once empowered by and encouraged by His grace, I will be able to stand because I will have connected with Jesus again. Now “grace” can be one of those overused and misunderstood “Christianese” types of words. I think what Peter means here though, is, we are gifted to come to Jesus. We don’t come as deserving people, but as a hungry and thirsty people. We come as a trusting people, who have been given the courage to accept God’s acceptance. Do I have the courage to believe Jesus isn’t tired of me? That He is not disappointed in me? Do I have the courage to believe He sees me as a living stone, a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, and, as someone who is precious to Him (I Pet.2:4-7)? Let’s be honest. Believing those things can be hard. To truly believe what He says of us, to accept His truth, is more than a cognitive exercise. He wants us to feel His love toward us at a heart level. And, this belief, this ability to trust Him, to come to Him, again and again, is a gift, starting with the new heart/inclination/motivation He gives us to come (Ezek.36:26ff). Yes, I digress a bit, but I write to encourage you. Jesus wants you to feast on Him. Even if He has been on the “outside” knocking on your door Christian, He says, “let me in, I will come in and eat with you” (Rev. 3:20). This is a promise of fellowship and acceptance. He wants us to come and open the door, but one beautiful thing that makes our coming possible, is that He first comes to us knocking. Will we open the door when we hear Him? Will we, can we at least honestly say, “I do believe you God, but help my unbelief”? (Mark 9:23-25). That is, “I trust you Jesus, and I want to come, but there’s a part of me that doesn’t trust. Will you help me with this?”
My final word of encouragement in our coming to Jesus again and again, would be to remind us of His words in Matt.11:28-30. There, our Lord says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Are you soul-weary? That is, is your life feeling more than a bit drained? Jesus give us incentive to come to Him because He is gentle and humble. He won’t judge us in our coming. Just as when we open the door and let Him in, He offers us a meal, not a lecture on proper eating habits or chastising us for our tendency toward too much junk food. He wants us to experience HIm and to rest in Him. I read somewhere, there is only one place in all of the Bible where Jesus says in effect, “Do you want to know what my inner life is like? What my “heart” is like? He says, “my heart is gentle and humble”. Now we know He also has a “holy” heart. A “just” heart as well. But somehow, we don’t struggle so much to believe that Jesus, and the God He came to reveal, is holy and just. But gentle and humble? I need a special and gracious invitation to believe in such a God. But thank God (!), that this is exactly the invitation He gives us. Through His gentle and humble Son, He calls us to come to Him through His Son. This call to come, and to keep coming to Jesus, is a gracious gift (Hebrews 4:14-16). As 2020 continues to unfold, my we keep unwrapping this gracious invitation to come to Jesus, to keep tasting that He is good.