Seeing Signs, Missing The Savior

God is consistently at work in my life. From giving me breath itself to orchestrating the events of my days, He is always at work.

How often do I stop to savor the fact that every act of His faithfulness is also an example of the glory of God?

Not often.

Most of the time I acknowledge the signs of His faithfulness without savoring the glory of my Savior.

If you’re like me, and you miss the glory of the Savior in the signs of His faithfulness, you’re not alone. In fact, we have company from all throughout Scripture. Yesterday morning, I was starting my day in God’s Word (I wish I could say this happened every day. It does not.) and read about Jesus turning water into wine in John chapter two. Look at the passage with me.

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there,  and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days. – John 2:1-12

According to the timeline of events in the Gospel of John, this wedding takes place after Jesus has called many of his disciples to follow Him. Up to this point, Jesus has not done anything publicly that drew attention to the fact that He was the Son of God (Well, besides knowing everything about the disciple Nathanael just by looking at him. See John 1:43-51.). This was the beginning of His signs. The passage even tells us this in verse eleven.

But look.

Although more than just His disciples knew that it was Jesus who had created this amazing wine out of simple water (according to the passage, the servants were obviously well aware of His miracle-work in this event), there’s not much hullaballoo surrounding this.  Jesus has just done the miraculous, and those who saw Him do it had to have been astounded at His control over nature and the molecular structure of liquids. Yet according to the passage, not all believed in Him. Not all realized that this was the Son of God in their midst. So instead of a crowd of followers who believed in Him, it is just his family and disciples that move from Cana to Capernaum (v. 12).

Jesus has never shown up at my house when Jamie and I have had people over, turning our filtered water into McAllister’s sweet tea. That would be pretty dope.

Jesus has however moved in my life in countless ways, just in 2019 alone. Jamie got me a journal for Christmas with pages to write out ways that God has shown His faithfulness to me. I’ve already got a couple pages full. Obviously the list could be endless, but I have limited it to major things.

Here’s a sample of a few.

On January 9th, I prayed that God would give Jamie and I guidance when it came to buying a house in town. This past Thursday, we moved into a home that we absolutely love! 

Back on February 11th, I prayed that dear friends of ours in our faith community here in Vernon would get the adoption of their three boys they currently foster finalized with a date on the calendar. That date is now set! 

2018 was a lonely year for me and my wife Jamie. We have been praying for solid Christ-centered friendships. God has used the last few months to strengthen relationships that we have with other families in our church, as well as introduce new friendships into our habits and rhythms.

We have a Disciple Now approaching in just three days at my church, and due to some poor decisions on my part, I wrestled with insomnia occasionally in the past month. But as of late, God has answered my prayers for a trusting heart and good, deep sleep. 

All of this was God’s faithfulness to me. A new home. Adoption finalized for this family in my church. Community. Rest.

It came from Him.

God has shown me signs of His miraculous power, His power over my emotions, my circumstances, my relationships, my ministry, my desires, my aspirations, my health. But have I missed the glory of the Savior in their midst?

Probably.

I may briefly thank God when a prayer is answered, but I rarely meditate on what it tells me about the character of God, the glory of God.

Don’t be like me.

Don’t be like the servants from John 2.

Don’t stand in awe of the sign but miss what it signifies about the Savior.

Meditate on all that God is.

Meditate on His glory.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

 

 

Embarrassed To Be A Christian

Some of us hate confrontation.

Some of us hate conflict.

Here’s what I’ve learned recently.

To be a follower of Jesus means that most people aren’t going to agree with me or like me.

You may be thinking, well duh Nate, we know this.

Well, I have to remind myself sometimes of that truth.

Recently, I was reading in the Gospel of Luke, and I came across the following verse. It’s a verse I honestly hadn’t noticed before.

Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. – Luke 6:26

Wow. That’s pretty intense. Jesus is proclaiming  that if everyone likes you as a follower of Jesus, you’re probably not standing solidly on the truth. Instead, you are most likely flattering others and telling them what they want to hear. That was the method of the false prophet.

Jesus is making it clear that not everyone around us is going to speak well of us. As a matter of fact, we can expect the opposite when we stand on what Scripture says is true.

That doesn’t jive well with my desire to be fully liked by all people.

Now, I am not an advocate for being Christian jerks. There is a balance of truth and love. Many people that claim Christ are some of the rudest, meanest, and honestly most vile people when it comes to communicating that which the Bible says is true.

For some of us who claim Christ however, our desire to be well loved leads us to avoid the truth. We tiptoe around the topics of the day, living our lives as sheepish, embarrassed Christians. I think many members of our churches live this way.

Here’s what I mean by this:

Some of us are embarrassed by the Bible’s view on sexuality.

So we avoid talking about it. The Bible calls homosexuality sin, but it also calls premarital sex, masturbation, pornography, transgenderism, divorce (for a reason other than marital unfaithfulness), and a litany of other sexual or marital practices to be sin. In a world of individualism, some of us back down off of what the Bible says to be true, not wanting to infringe upon people’s preferences or personal lives. Yet to be a follower of Jesus is to submit one’s sexuality to Jesus.

Some of us are embarrassed by the claim of Christ that all of a person’s life, all of their heart and soul and mind and strength, should be submitted to the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

But, we want people to come to our churches. So we preach messages that tickle the ears, make people feel good about themselves, and keep the status quo. Instead of daily submission to a life of discomfort via allegiance to Jesus, we preach for our people to chase the desires of their hearts, that they can achieve all of their dreams and goals with Jesus’ magic pixie dust of blessings raining down upon their lives. Christianity becomes about feeling good.

Oh, and those times where Jesus calls us to love Him more than we’d love our own family, that was hyperbole and exaggeratory on Jesus’ part. Our kids should be number #1 in our lives. Don’t teach them covenant commitment, make it about their fun and comfort.

Some of us are embarrassed by the call to holiness that is abundantly clear in Scripture and is a crucial part of what it means to follow Jesus.

So we make life about authenticity and transparency. This leads to the Game of Thrones watching, Cards against Humanity playing, beer drinking, cussing, partying, but attending church on Sunday version of Christianity. Are any of the above the unforgivable sin? By no means. But the whole “in the world but not of it” mantra of this subset of Christians shows the world around it that there’s really nothing different about them. They partake in the same things, act the same way. This truly is an abuse of grace.

Some of us are embarrassed by the practices and traditions that are present in our churches.

We are afraid to bring people to our church, because what will they think when we belt out all four verses of “Be Thou My Vision”? What will they think when we have the Uber-awkward “greet people around you time” of the service? What will they think when we talk about tithing, or when we have a Frightless Family Fun Night on Halloween? None of this is hip and relevant. None of this is cool and popular.

Some of us are embarrassed by the character of God, namely His anger and wrath towards the unrighteous.

So we make it our mission to be God’s PR rep. We start by not studying and definitely not speaking about the Old Testament, because that’s not about the God of love. We then make sure to downplay the fact that the Sermon on the Mount ups the ante for the follower of Jesus. We don’t talk about hell. Some even come to the conclusion that hell isn’t real. When we do this though, we are communicating that Christ died for no reason.

Do any of these hit close to home for you?

Some of them hit home for me.

We have all of a sudden become people who are apologizing for what we believe! We’ve become people who are embarrassed to be associated with Jesus.

We all fall into it.

I’m a pastor and I fall into it.

When I get my haircut in Wichita Falls, I inevitably get asked what it is I do for a living. I answer truthfully, yet there are times when I start to feel embarrassed. My heart doesn’t want the discomfort of being known for all of the above things I talked about in this blog. My heart is also wicked, not to be trusted.

To be a follower of Jesus is to be weird, to be not liked at times.

No, we mustn’t be rude and arrogant.

Yes, we must be willing to stand for truth, truth spoken in love.

Stop apologizing for being a Christian.

Start embracing the discomfort.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach