Can’t See the Forest. . .

Anyone who professes Jesus Christ as their Savior would say that He is the authority for their lives. We would say His wisdom is greater than our wisdom, and our understanding must come from Him. Many similar conclusions spin off from this essential conviction that Jesus Christ is Lord. Then comes the rub. We either humbly submit to His authority, or we fabricate an image of Jesus that fits the way we want Him to be.

When Jesus walked among us, He set Himself apart from the dreams and visions of conventional wisdom. For example; “. . . when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” (John 2:23-26) Jesus countered human expectations many times; “you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” / “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.” / “Get behind me Satan” / “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” / “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” Some of those who Jesus answered were His disciples. They believed enough to follow Him, yet they did not see things His way. They had to learn a different vision. But isn’t that what a disciple is supposed to do? Among other things Jesus came among us to deliver us from our ignorance. “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”

One of the basic things a disciple must possess is humility to acknowledge weakness. As the old hymn goes, “I am weak but thou are strong. . ” It is right to admit that our strength is not enough. Peter denied. Judas betrayed. The apostles jostled for the best spot (so they thought). “They all forsook Him and fled.” We should be able to see ourselves in the variety of behaviors which Jesus encountered. Before conversion it was fairly easy to see ourselves in the common sins of the world; lying, cheating, drunkeness, arrogance, etc. It is on the basis of being made aware of our sins that we repent and give our lives to Jesus. When following Him, the same willingness to see our deficiency applies. “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” (Col.2:6)

It is harder to be objective about our personal concept of Jesus than to see the plain shamefulness of a sinful act. Deceiving ourselves with our personal vision of Jesus is more subtle and has great danger. “If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matt 6:23) It is this darkness that pervades the religious world. It manifests itself in blasphemy: teaching for doctrine the traditions of men, religious imagery (idolatry), ministries in the names of men, the pride of man’s works. There are so many evil manifestations of being led astray by Satan who “transforms himself into an angel of light.” This deception emerges from our desire to have things our way. It is a twisted thing to approach the Creator and imagine to shape Him after our own ideas.

How to be objective? How do we disconnect ourselves from our personal way of looking at things to follow the true way of Christ? Jesus prayed to the Father for His apostles and His disciples: “And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.” (John 17:9) He, who was once a part of the everlasting glory, became a man. “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil.2:8) In this way He sanctified Himself. He always made it a point to show that He was subject to the Father’s will; “not my will, but thine be done.” He came to be obedient in a way that had not been fulfilled by man. “By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb.10:10) To be sanctified by Jesus is to enter the same mode of living; to see the way Jesus saw, to learn the behavior of Jesus, to “have the mind of Christ.” In this way we can disconnect ourselves from ourselves. This essential reality begins upon conversion. It is up to us to maintain and develop it. Jesus made His decisions based on the Father’s will, not on the traditions of men. He prayed and found strength from His Father to do His will. We must do the same. We must not use the Bible as a decoration for our own notions, but use it to correct our thinking; “for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. . .”