If we have any desire to follow Jesus Christ and model our lives according to his, we will soon encounter difficulty. Sometimes, the reason for this is to allow us to revaluate who is really in the driving seat: our Lord or ourselves.
Influential church leader and former pastor Tim Keller accurately described our desire to remain in control, when he tweeted: We don’t want a King. We want a consultant in the person of Jesus to advise us as we order our lives.
In such moments of testing, we will either turn our back on Christ, or bow our knee in fresh surrender.
John 6 presented such an opportunity. Up until this point, Jesus had been growing in popularity. Earlier in the gospel account, John records that Jesus had turned water into wine, healed the sick and fed thousands. So great was his popularity that John the Baptist’s disciples had now joined him, and the masses had forcefully tried (but failed) to make Jesus their new king.
All that changed, when the Lord declared that those who purport to follow him have no life in them, unless they take him for who He really was, God in the flesh, and the ‘bread who had come down from heaven’.
While the masses deserted at this point, Peter exclaimed that there was no one else to turn to, and that the Christ was the Holy Son of God.
At such points of difficulty, where it is so tempting to turn away from Christ, what could possibly keep us following him?
We must look again at the cross of Christ, and remind ourselves that there is no one else we can turn to.
Well loved theologian John Stott wisely reminds us of why he became a Christian in the first place. He wrote: “I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross… In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?
Unlike other deities who are detached from our pain, he writes… in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in Godforsaken darkness. That is the God for me!”
The result of all this is that our life will be transformed into the life God has for us, a life which will bring us greater joy than if we had never gone through difficulty.
May God Bless you.
Tendai Chitsike, Every Nation Church