Monday, July 13, 2020
Do You Have Enough Room in Your Life?
Do You Have Enough Room in Your Life?
Don’t blame Jesus for some Christians who need more than some Jesus in their lives!
Just because somebody says they’re a Christian doesn’t mean they have invited Jesus entirely into their heads, hearts and guts as Lord and Savior; because if they did, their behavior wouldn’t embarrass Him so much and give Him such a bad name among people that are repelled from Him by people who say they love Him while acting worse than White Sox fans in Wrigley Field.
Some people with some Jesus in their lives are as authentic to Christocentrically Biblical faith as those little dab’ll do ya religious people polluting church membership rolls. Any connection between them and the real Jesus of those red letters is just coincidental.
Our Christianity is not authentic until we are fully immersed in Him.
Let me put it another way.
Walkng into a church and getting your name on a church membership roll, which is now easier than signing up for AARP, makes you into a Christian about as much as walking into McDonald’s turns you into a Big Mac.
Maybe it’s an indigestion pero I think Jesus would like some churches to post a disclaimer at the beginning of their services in the bulletin or online: “Don’t blame Me for what you’re about to see and don’t blame Me for how they act after the benediction!”
Really, so many churches prove those letters from Jesus in Revelation weren’t just for the 1st century.
A quick hit on His letter to Sardis illustrates the point: “You have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead” (Revelation 3:1-6).
Maybe AMC looked at too many churches when they were putting scripts together for The Walking Dead.
You know it’s true.
If energy and enthusiasm were dynamite, some churches wouldn’t have enough to blow their noses.
I think of the guy who went to your typically boring Presbyterian church – BTW, I just don’t have time to mention those boring Episcopalians, Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, UCCers and the rest of the mainliners not to mention sideliners that are just as boring – and got excited during the sermon and yelled, “Praise the Lord!” An usher rushed to him, tapped him on the shoulder and said, “I’m sorry sir, but we don’t do that here.” “But,” the man protested, “I’ve got religion!” “Well,” snapped the snotty usher, “you didn’t get it here!”
How untrue to Jesus but too true for too many churches.
For if Jesus is entirely in your head, heart and gut, you’re singing with Kool and the Gang: “Celebrate good times, come on!...There’s a party goin’ on right here. A celebration to last throughout the years. So bring your good times, and your laughter too. We gonna celebrate Your party with You…[Jesus!!!]…Celebrate good times, come on!”
The first recorded miracle of Jesus comes to mind.
The wedding at Cana in John 2.
The woman and man exchange vows and have a big party.
Jesus is there along with his mom and lots of friends.
“Celebrate good times, come on!”
The wine ran out.
It must have felt like cash bars at some weddings.
Remember, mom knew Jesus was reaaaaaaaalllllllly special; so she said to him with an obvious hint, “They don’t have any more wine.”
So what did Jesus do?
He made more; and not only did He make more, it was better than the previous servings.
“Celebrate good times, come on!”
While Jesus wasn’t a teetotaler and didn’t use Welch’s at Cana or the Last Supper, He wasn’t about to encourage Uncle Ernie and Aunt Alma to go on some drunken binge and barf the night away.
Say it with me: moderation.
Paul even wrote about a little wine being good for ya (1 Timothy 5:23).
Again, say it with me: moderation.
So if you can’t handle it at all, don’t handle it at all.
If you act like Beavis or Butthead after a few swigs, it ain’t for you.
If you’ve gotta drink to get drunk or start acting like plastered Uncle Ernie and Aunt Alma at wedding receptions, embarrassing yourself and saying bad things that hurt other people and…, after two cans, it ain’t for you at all.
I mean that’s why Lydia and I tell Steve and Leslie not to buy Oreos. We can’t eat just a dozen at a time!
Back to the wedding at Cana, don’t miss the forest for the trees.
While Jesus is all in on celebrating the providence of God in guiding a woman and man to holy matrimony, the miracle of turning water into wine is a metaphor for the gospel of existential relief generated by the assurance of eternal life by grace through faith in Jesus.
The miracle at Cana, bringing out better wine after the old batch was exhausted, shouts out the gospel that life and eternity become immeasurably better – The best! – when Jesus is entirely in our lives.
Jesus is the best tasting and best lasting elixir to live happily ever after.
The parable of wineskins comes to mind (Matthew 9:17).
It’s important to know what precipitated this parable (Matthew 9:9-16).
Matthew, a dirtbag tax collector at the time, heard Jesus speaking and was immediately drawn to Him, then converted to Him and didn’t hesitate to join up when Jesus invited Him to join the divine salvation army: “Follow Me.”
Apparently, there’s a little party. I agree with those who say Matthew was so excited about feeling like he was born again, getting a fresh start in life with the bonus of expecting more after the last breath, that he invited some old dirtbag buddies – “tax collectors and sinners” – to meet Jesus with the hope that they would experience what Jesus did for him.
Of course, there were some party-pooper Pharisees who asked, “Why does Jesus hang around with such dirtbags?”
Jesus never suffered fools gladly like so many of today’s preachers and other politicians and shut ‘em up: “People who are sick need healing. I came for sinners. Don’t forget God’s mercy extends to everybody!”
Then Jesus was asked, “Why are you having a party? Why do people who hang around you party more than fast?”
According to Matthew’s account, this confrontation came after Jesus had already said in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), “When you fast…” Jesus didn’t say, “If you fast…” Jesus told us that fasting is one of the ways that we increase our intimacy with God. When we are fasting, we are concentrating on God. We know we are abstaining from something or even someone to increase our focus on God that will allow us to be more filled with God.
So like Solomon in Ecclesiastes, Jesus is saying, “There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven…a time for this and a time for that…a time for fasting and a time for partying” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-15).
Bringing the partying at Cana’s wedding back to mind, Jesus asked rhetorically, “Do you fast at wedding receptions? When I’m not around or I’m not entirely in someone’s life, people don’t really feel like partying. When I’m around, party time!”
Explaining, Jesus says, “No one cuts up a fine silk scarf to patch old work clothes. You want fabrics to match. You don’t put a new patch on an old pair of pants because the new patch will pull away on the old garment and cause a tear and make it worse.”
Again, Jesus isn’t talking about a Singer sewing machine. He’s talking about what’s best for you and me and everybody else. It’s a parable. It’s a story with a life-changing spiritual message. It’s a metaphor for experiencing God’s best in our lives. Simply, don’t try to keep the old that was O.K. in its time when the best has come in Jesus. Jesus is not putting down the old ways of the Hebrew Scriptures or even religious traditions evolving from the Hebrew Scriptures but saying He has something/Someone better – The best! – for us.
Just like the wine at Cana’s wedding that Jesus made was better than anything that anyone ever had before was a metaphor for saying life with Jesus will be better than anything that anyone ever had before, Jesus is saying to take off the old clothes of life without Him and put on the new clothes of life with Him and you’ll look and feel better than ever before.
Then He says, “No one puts new wine into old wineskins. That’s really dumb. If you do that, the skins will burst and the wine will spill out and you’ll lose the wine. Old wineskins are just too rigid and stiff and not elastic enough to stretch enough to make room for what’s more powerfully and explosively better than anything you’ve ever tasted and experienced.”
Let’s go deeper.
Jesus is the wine.
Jesus is out of this world yet come into this world to give us experiences that are out of this world as a preface to being permanently out of this world in heaven.
Jesus is the best in time and forever.
Jesus is the best and wants the best for us.
Again, if you need a quick, concise, clear, compelling and conclusive reminder on that, read John 3:16-17.
Drink deeply of Jesus for the best buzz.
We are the wineskins.
The wine is the best.
Do we have enough room in our lives for Jesus?
Are we flexible enough to expand our way of thinking and seeing and doing things for what will be the best if we just let Him in?
Are we elastic enough to stretch our heads and hearts and guts and wrap them around what will be an indescribable improvement over anything or anyone that we’ve ever experienced if we just let Him love us?
Are we pliable enough to be blessed?
Or are we like the innkeeper who couldn’t/wouldn’t make room for baby Jesus?
Are we like those who long for the way things never were or maybe were but are no more?
Will we crack under the pressure of making room for His best as we try to hold on to what’s less than His best?
Let’s go deeper.
Matthew’s record of this parable of the wineskins (9:17) and Mark’s record (2:21) are identical; pero Luke’s version (5:37-39) includes a tragic fact about some wineskins/people/churches: “Some say, ‘The old is better.’”
Some people are satisfied with the O.K., mediocre, good and better.
Some people settle for the pedestrian, #2 pencil, peck on the cheek in marriage, rotary phone and Honda 50.
Same old same old is just fine for those satisfied with the boring.
Bad for them.
Jesus offers so much more.
Jesus offers so many tastes of the heavenly in time before the heavenly beyond time and forever.
Make no mistake about it.
Jesus, the new wine, is for right now so we can agree with the Founder about His creation: “It is sooooooo good!”
Jesus, the new wine, is forever in paradise when it will always be heavenly.
Let’s go deeper.
The parables of new clothes and new wineskins mean God doesn’t want us to “patch up” or “put up” or “plug up” what’s old but rather replace them with the new, fresh and best that He wants for us.
Let’s go deeper.
Until we are ready to be entirely His, we won’t know what we’re missing.
I’m not complaining – actually, I am – but I’ve had it with Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. They put non-rockers like Tupac Shakur and Janet Jackson in while leaving out Mountain, Jethro Tull, Steppenwolf and so many others.
How can you even pretend Whitney Houston is a rocker and deserves a plaque in the Hall of Fame next to Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Elvis, Little Richard, ZZ Top, AC/DC, Dylan, Clapton, Stones, Beatles and…? If I go on, I’ll get really sick.
Talk about the abomination of desolation!
Recent enshrinements into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame must be the last signs of the apocalypse.
Well, they’ve also left out Bachman-Turner Overdrive and here’s their take on what people without Jesus are missing: “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, B-b-b-baby, you just ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Here’s somethin’ that you’ll never gonna forget. B-b-b baby, you just ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
O.K., before you text or email me, I know that song’s got some bad juju.
But you get the point.
Life with Jesus is the best.
Truth be told, and we must tell the truth if we really love God and love like God with that love that liberates in time and lasts forever, people who don’t know what they’re missing apart from God can see it in the countenance of people who aren’t missing anything because they’ve got everything with God.
Did that last sentence make sense?
It does to the saved because the saved know being saved is the best and cannot be confined to words or definitions.
Being saved is beyond words.
Being saved is out of this world.
One of my favorite things is to see the difference that Jesus makes in the countenance/appearance/looks of the saved.
That always happens when I go into a restaurant and see people praying.
After they’re done, I’ll often go over to them and say just loud enough for everyone around them to hear, “So I’m guessing you love Jesus.”
Their eyes light up as their faces lift up and body moves up and I can almost see haloes over their heads.
I can also see frowns and scorn and disdain and cluelessness and deadliness and nothing really good in the faces of those in the restaurant who aren’t saved.
That’s when I’m reminded how much better to best it is to make room in our lives for Jesus.
It’s so booooooorrrrrriiiiiiinnnnnnngggggggg without Jesus.
It’s indescribably beautiful with Jesus.
Blessings and Love!