Spiritual Driving Lessons

We all needed to learn how to drive.  Some of us might be more “natural” at it than others, but there were still lessons to be learned.  Some, we learned from a book or class.  Others came through experience.

 

In Mark 2:13-17 Jesus gives us some spiritual driving lessons.  And as talented of a driver as you might think you are, or as spiritually good as you think you might be, these are lessons we all need.

First, Jesus reminds us that He doesn’t need any backseat drivers.  He doesn’t need us telling Him where He should go, how He should drive, or who He should pick up along the way.

In Jesus’ day, there was a group of religious people called the Pharisees who were awfully good at giving backseat directions.  They thought they knew how Jesus should live.  And one day, when they find Jesus eating with SINNERS – they think they know better.  This isn’t right, they believe.  These people aren’t worthy, they think.  But, Jesus doesn’t need backseat drivers.  He knows who He came for and who He wants to love.  Jesus came for the people we would least expect.  He came to love the unlovable and save the unsavable. He came to rescue the ones who have been forgotten, left out, and denied.

Second, Jesus reminds us to check our blind-spots.  Jesus tells us that “It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick.  I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners”.  Check your blind-spots, Jesus is saying.  Do you think you have it all together?  Do you think you are doing ok on your own?  Do you believe that you don’t need any saving?  Well, then there are some spiritual blind-spots in your life that need to be recognized.  Jesus came for people who recognize their weakness, who admit their failures, and who confess that they have sinned.

Third, Jesus reminds us to follow Him.  Don’t think you can make it without Him.  Don’t look for any short-cuts.  Don’t try to blaze your own trail.  Just follow Jesus.  As He suffered, sacrificed, and serve, so should you.  Following Jesus won’t always be easy, but it will take you all the way to eternity.  Fix your eyes on Him and His cross, and He will lead you to where you need to go.  Believe in His cross, trust in His promises, cling to His Word, and you will end up right where He wants you:  with Him, forever.

Does God Surprise You?

When was the last time you were really surprised?  Like, truly surprised?  Scream-like-a-little-girl surprised? Put-your-hands-over-your-mouth surprised?  “I-have-no-words” surprised?  I-can’t-believe-this-is-happening-to-me surprise?

This weekend we will (along with Christians around the world) be celebrating Pentecost.  And talk about a surprising day!

First, there was the sound of a loud rushing wind that filled the house the disciples had gathered in.  Then, there was the tongues of flame that flickered over the heads of Jesus’ followers.  If that wasn’t enough, those same people began to speak in all sorts of languages.  Whatever they said was understood by Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, and Cppadocians, Pontians, and Asians, Phrygians, Pamphylians, Egyptians, Libyans, Romans, Cretans, and Arabs all could understand.  Talk about a surprise!  These normal, everyday people suddenly had the ability to speak in all the world’s languages.  And that was because God wanted all the people in the world to hear His Good-News, Life-Giving, Eternity-Altering Word.

But, all of that (the loud rushing wind, the tongues of fire, the speaking in the languages of the world) was really just there to point the people to the most surprising reality of all:  the promise of salvation for ALL people who believe in Jesus.

On Pentecost, as God sent out and filled His people with the Holy Spirit, God was letting the world know who He came for:  all people.  Salvation wasn’t just for the good people, the worthy people, or even the Jewish people.  Salvation wasn’t just for the people who had earned it, who looked the part, or who fit the mold.  No, salvation was for young and old.  Male and female.  Slave and free.  It was for the people you’d least expect and the ones you never gave a chance to.

Pentecost is a reminder that Jesus came for all people.  His Spirit fills all believers.

But, let’s never forget that included in that ALL is YOU.  YOU are a Holy Spirit filled Christian and Jesus came to bring YOU salvation.  Maybe you don’t fit the mold.  Maybe you don’t think you are worthy.  Maybe you don’t think you’ve earned it.  Maybe you have a hard time believing it.  But, it’s true.  God came for YOU.

That’s the kind of surprise God has for you.  A surprising love that we don’t find anywhere else.  A surprising grace that covers the worst of what we bring Him.  A surprising kindness that welcomes in even people like me and you.

Surprise!

You are a saint

When you think of your Christian faith, what words come to mind?  How would you describe yourself as a Christian?

Maybe you think of words like “ordinary” or “normal”.  I think many of us feel that way.  Or, maybe you feel “excited”.  That’s a blessing.  Sometimes we might choose to use words like, “lacking” or “lagging” because we don’t feel up-to-par with our fellow Christians.

But, John 17:11-19 uses a different word to describe us.  Jesus says that we aresanctified.  That means that we have been made holy.  It means that we are worthy of being called saints.

You might not use those words to describe yourself and your faith:  Sanctified, Holy, or Saint.  But, that is who you are.  That is who God has made you.

To be holy or sanctified or to be a saint does NOT mean that you are better than anyone.  It certainly doesn’t mean you are perfect or without sin.  It doesn’t imply that bad stuff won’t happen to you or that you are through doing bad stuff either.

No, it simply means that you have been set apart by God.  Your life is different now.  Jesus has died for you. The Spirit lives in you.  Your life is not your own.  You have been set apart.

The foundation of your life isn’t yourself anymore – it’s God.  The source of joy and happiness isn’t found in stuff – it’s found in Jesus.  The direction of your life isn’t pointed inward, but outward, in acts of service and love for other people.  The guiding principals of your life aren’t found in self-help books or in the wisdom of spiritual gurus on TV.  No, we are guided by God’s Word.  We are strengthened by His food.  We are renewed by His promises.  Your life doesn’t belong to you anymore – it belongs to God.

You are sanctified.  You are holy.  You are a saint.  You have been set apart.

I know, I know.  Try telling that to your non-Christian friends.  Try telling them that you are holy or that you are a saint.  You will probably get some funny looks or hear some laughs.  But, it’s true.

So, I wonder what life would look like if we saw ourselves that way?  What if we looked in the mirror and saw a saint.  Someone who had been set apart for a special purpose.  Someone that Jesus has died for, that the Spirit lives in, and that is being formed into Christ’s image?

What if we saw each other that way?  What if we looked at our brothers and sisters around us as saints?  What if we believed that they were holy?

Well, they are.  You are.  You are holy.  You have been sanctified.  You are a saint.

 

Read more by Peter by checking out his book, “Growing Up:  In, With, and Under Jesus” on Amazon.com