I am not sure if you have been to a movie recently, but I figure there are basically two types of people; preview people and people who don't care for them. For me, I love previews. I get to stuff my face with popcorn and I see the latest movies that are coming soon. If you get to the movies early next time, watch people as they see the previews. If it was a good one, there is usually a smile or a ‘we got to see that!’. Or similarly if it was a bad one, they are reacting to it. Laughter, jokes or disgust.
I have heard it said that as christians, we are to be previews of God’s kingdom. People are watching, observing and making judgments about whether whatever you are putting out there is worth while.
What we talked about this past Sunday was the reality of being a 5th gospel; us.
Now for most of us, we dislike that notion. Simply because we don't want the pressure of being someone’s example of how God is. But the truth is, people are not looking for how well you follow rules or religion; they are looking at how and who you love.
Rodney Smith a 19th-century British evangelist said, “There are five Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian— but most people never read the first four.”
Funny. I used to think that people would see Jesus in me if I healed the sick, or if I was praying 2-3 hours a day. Or maybe if I knew my bible better. But none of those are about loving others, those things (are not bad things) just were distractions from me actually doing the work of loving others.
It is one thing to learn about God, and another to experience him, to be in relationship with him.
Let me give you an example;
I never liked Micheal Jordan.
He beat my Suns & and my Sonics.
But many people have read books on, studied his history and claim to know everything about him. They know the stats, the best games and the history. But they do not know him. They know about him.
Say I was lucky enough to do one of those VIP meet and greet events. It would be great. I would get to say Hi. I would get a selfie and have a great memory. And it would go along great to my knowledge of him. I met him, I know about him.
But that doesn't mean I have a personal relationship with him.
Today, we have many people who claim to ‘know’ God,
but I am not sure they have gone beyond a one-time meet and greet.
They study the bible. They know which passage goes where. Who said it and maybe even the why. But being in relationship with God is what makes all of that come alive. The text with out the ‘WORD’ Jesus is just text. It is inspirational at best and sometimes confusing. The more I know a person like MJ, the more I get to see not only his triumphs, but his failures. I get to know how each event shaped him and the cost of such fame. I get to have meals and hang outs. I get to be involved.
The bible is meant to be the accompaniment of a personal relationship with Jesus. The bible leads us to Christ and gives us a better understanding of who he was, how he lived and what he asks of us.
I want to change a small thing in your mind.
I have been in so many contexts, churches and events I have heard people say, “Then God showed up” or even recently I was listening to a very popular christian artist sing, “When you walk in the room” speaking about Jesus.
Wait… God wasn’t in the room before you sang? Is singing like his welcome mat? Was God not in the room before you got there?
Maybe you never thought of it like this, but I think God is omnipresent (a fancy word for he is everywhere). Which means he was in the room before you. He was in the building before you were and will continue to be after you go. That singing to him does not summon him, but it does open us up.
And here is the subtle change…
Let’s try to recognize that it is us who show up, God has been there the whole time.
When we focus on God, we become more aware of him. When we sing to him, we become aware of him. And this is different because we don’t always need singing to become aware. We don’t need a 25 min singing or prayer session. Those things help us focus on him and help us become more aware.
How does this tie into the 5th gospel discussion? Simple, I think it is easier for us to pray that God would make us aware of him in our everyday life to help live like and love like Jesus. That we would not confine God to a Sunday box or a few hours a week. God is all around us, so why not ask if we could be more aware of him in our everyday? in all situations?
Where do you find it easier to connect with God?
Have you seen some really bad examples of ‘christ-followers’?
Any good ones?
This week Story will be taking a break because of march break, but will be back March 20th.
Our next series is called “Whats the deal with…” and the first one is called “What’s the deal with Easter?”
the story continues…