And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (as Elijah did) But he turned and rebuked them. (And he said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man came not to destroy people’s lives but to save them”) And they went on to another village. (Luke 9:52-56)
As I was reading this above passage this morning my spirit was stirred. I see the Samaritans as a representation of the unfortunate people who struggle because they haven’t received the fullness of the Lord through Jesus Christ. This could be unbelievers who know nothing of His love and it could also be believers who have never surrendered in order to know the depth of His love through receiving Him. In both cases we see people who are refusing to receive the presence of Jesus. I see no reason to pass judgement on this. I believe that even the most devout follower has moments of self-sufficiency where they try and move in a way contrary to the expressed will of God. We are all “Samaritans” until we receive our Savior and then we have moments of relapse as trials and temptations shape and mold our faith. With this in mind the rest of the passage spoke to me in a more meaningful way.
I see two responses to people who are struggling with receiving Jesus or walking in His fullness. I see James and John who remind me of the legalism found in many churches today and I see what Jesus has to say. How many of you have made mistakes in your life that cause shame to dwell in you? How many of you have felt rejected when you try and become vulnerable with those in the church in expressing that shame? How many of you have felt reconciled to God in repentance only to feel condemned by a church that is supposed to represent Him? I see two disciples who were closer to Christ and His teaching than anyone the church today can offer make this same mistake. They fail to see the flaws in this world as the reason God became flesh and dwelled among us. He allowed His blood to be spilled as the sacrifice that erased rejection from sin. Yet the church and its believers can still manage to drive away those who thirst for the living water. I know this doesn’t apply to all churches. I am speaking to those who carry the weight of shame and get hurt through a spiritless congregation. Please see what the true reaction of a Spirit lead church should look like through the words of Jesus Himself.
Jesus responds to His disciple’s desire to punish these people with a rebuke followed by His beautiful truth. “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man came not to destroy people’s lives but to save them.” He rebukes the crookedness of their spirit and then simply states His earthly purpose. There is salvation in Christ, acceptance of your repentance, and unconditional love from the Father. Do not accept unloving condemnation as the heart of God. The heart of God is found through the sacrifice of Jesus. I hope that you will draw close to God when those on earth can’t reflect a love they may not understand. I hope that the hearts of the church will soften and see the opportunity found in repentance of the lost, and the opportunity to show the love of God through Jesus to even the most rejecting heart. Let Christ be the Leader and you can make a difference.
As we grow closer to God we not only grow away from the things of this world we also create a distance from other believers who’s walk is different from ours. It might be that God’s timing or direction for them differs from ours. It is important to support those around us while still seeking our own growth in God through His Spirit. There will be times where people will be unable to support your steps and upward calling. That can be to your advantage in many cases. God guides your steps, lights your path, and is the source of your calling. Your first resource for growth in your spiritual walk should always be the Spirit God has sent to dwell in you. The Holy Spirit should always be the source of your conviction and truth. Allowing the Spirit to be your filter as you seek God through His Word and through Spirit driven sermons means you can receive what the Lord has for you specifically. The living Word of God can speak to you a different way each time you seek guidance through its pages. Allowing the Holy Spirit, which dictated every word, to speak to you with scripture means you can get exactly what you need in your time with the Lord.
There are times when we look around and realize that our walk with God has brought us to a place of unique experience with Him. He speaks to us and grows us in ways that are specific to how He made us. There will not always be someone to share that moment with. It is those times we can take our love and gratitude directly to God, our Source. We can use those moments of revelation to worship and praise Him.
Seeking fellow believers to walk with is God’s desire, but we cannot rely on human counsel as our primary source of revelation and growth. People are fallible where God is not. He designed you and seeks to mature you in His way at His pace. Your growth will drive the right people closer to you and some people away from you. Some of the people who were closest to you in your worldly life will be the furthest from you as your spirit matures. Let God bring people into your life that will develop you through His Spirit. Seek God first and let the Spirit be your counsel.
We are each uniquely design as part of the body of Christ (the Church). He created us and now grows us in different ways to strengthen His Church. Allow God to grow gifts in you that you can bring to grow His Kingdom here on earth. Don’t let people pull you from God’s unique design for you. Make God first and let His light shine forth from you to serve Him and His purpose for your life.
Without Ego/ Pride/ Arrogance– Pride drives people away. Leaders are admired in their humility. People have trouble connecting with leaders who think too highly of themselves. It’s in the leader’s ability to take in fresh viewpoints that they connect to the people around them. In the eyes if our creator no one of His children is better than the other. We were all created in unique ways for His purpose. We must never seek to be any better than anyone else, we must look to grow in the unique qualities that each one of us bring to the table. Only together can we get any closer to understanding the infinitude of God. (Philippians 2:3) Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Matthew 20:26) It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit makes us examples to a world that is lost in the chaos caused by sin. This in turn makes us leaders as our example guides people to reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ. As leaders by example and not just words, we should strive to meet the standard God has for those who believe in salvation through Jesus. This extends into our home, workplace, and anywhere we have the opportunity to glorify God. (1 Peter 5:2-4) Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. We must be: (2)Trustworthy, (3)Guiltless, (4)Set Apart, (5)Discerning, (6)Humble, (7)Consistent, (8)Prosperous.
We find the 10 Commandments given to Moses (Exodus 20) fulfilled and overshadowed by the 2 Commandments of Jesus Christ (Matthew 22:37-40). God says that those who fear and love God will obey His commands. Obeying the law was impossible in the flesh, through fear. The entire Old Testament proves that. Obeying the commands of God is only possible with the Holy Spirit, through love. The OT gives us the law of sin and death, Jesus gives us the law of spirit and life. (Romans 8:2) For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. The OT tells us what is right while Jesus and the Holy Spirit equip us to do it. The OT law gives us condemnation, Jesus gives us grace and mercy. (John 1:17) For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. OT law isolates people from one another in sin, love brings us together. The law is made weak by flesh, love is made strong by the spirit. (Romans 8:3-4) For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
“Rules without relationship leads to rebellion.” -Josh McDowell
We have a God that never changes. The same God that created the universe gave you the breath of life. The same God that raised Christ from the dead allowed you to open your eyes this morning. He has no reason to change in His perfect wisdom and perfect righteousness. He knows the beginning from the end and sees the bigger picture as His will is played out on earth.
I’ve been guilty of thinking that my actions in some way change the way God sees me, or the way He can use me. I forget that God knew every mistake I would ever make, every sinful thought or action, before the beginning of time. He knew when He called me into adoption as His child, all that I had done and would ever do. His heart for me has no reason to change. His love for me is incomprehensible and would be overwhelming if I could receive it fully in this human heart. We have to look at our greatest examples of love here on earth and just imagine how infinitely better His must be.
I wanted to imagine an analogy to make this as real as possible to the people who I get to profess His love to. Imagine with me that you are at the park with your kids, or children you care deeply for. You see them working through their pre-school problems with the other kids. (Who gets the yellow shovel? Who touched me? Who moved my rock?) You smile at how funny they are dwelling on the trivial things in life. You laugh at how much bigger the world is than their tiny playground. You wonder what amazing things they will accomplish as they grow and mature. That is how the Father sees us as His children. We struggle, lost in emotions that interfere with our reason and truth. We think that moments spell the end for us and panic. We forget that He is in control and will guide us as we do our children. I imagine God’s smile as He waits for me to come to Him when I think my newest struggle is more than just my newest yellow shovel struggle.
He has no need to feed our panic or deliver us from struggles that don’t hinder His bigger view of life. His love had no reason to waiver over our hyper focus on relatively small things. He’s driving the car and we keep panicking about the dumps in the road. Fall into the freedom of letting God drive the car. Let Him maneuver the way as He guides you through His journey for you. Know always that He sees your struggles, but He sees them through the eyes of His plan and through the eyes of eternity. Your mountain is a grain of sand to the Creator. Let Him blow your mountains away, after you grow in the climbing of those mountains. Share the yellow shovel, the green one works too. That touch didn’t hurt you, but your forgiveness will touch them in greater ways. Let them have your rock, God has a better one waiting for you when you look to Him. We are sojourners on this earth, like a giant playground. Grow in its lesson and return to the Father that watches you the entire time, with a smile that never waivers.
Let’s consider some of the promises given to us through Jesus Christ: newness of life (Romans 6:4), salvation (Romans 6:23), become a child of God (John 1:12), righteousness of God (Romans 3:22), eternal life and escape from judgement (John 5:24), justification through grace (Romans 3:24). These are the things freely given to us as gifts from the Creator and Sustainer of the universe when we decide to accept reconciliation to Him through His son which He offered to any who choose to receive.
There are also things offered to believers which require us to allow God to work in us through His spirit. (Philippians 2:12b-13) work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. These are things that we cannot do on our own. We need God to act in us in order to overcome the sinfulness given to us in original sin. We need the Holy Spirit to renew our minds, to break out of our personal strongholds, to overcome temptation, to drive away the deceiver, to understand God’s word, to guide us in God’s will for our life, to discern God’s will, to be our joy and light in this dark world, and to be God in us! The problem with some is that they expect God to pour these things on us. It doesn’t work that way. These things are grown in the hearts of believers as fruit when the believer matures in their walk with the Lord. God is too wise to hand such powerful things to us in our spiritual youth. As we grow in relationship with the Father He makes these things available to us. Human wisdom has parents who set up trusts for their children so they don’t squander the gifts they receive. How much wiser is our Heavenly Father? God makes all of these things available to His children, but His wisdom is in His timing and our maturity.
Don’t lose hope when God doesn’t hand you understanding or doesn’t deliver you from situations you have walked into. Know that you may not be ready to fully understand that moment yet or that you still need to grow in your painful situation. (Romans 8:28) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Know that God wishes to bless you more than you desire to be blessed. He knows that those blessing deserve to be used for His greater purpose in you. Come close to God, get to know His heart for you, and never doubt that the same spirit that flowed through and raised Christ is in you; and available to glorify God in ways that surpass your imagination.