Wednesday, November 5, 2014

When Jesus Said No

During my Bible Study time a few days ago, I read Mark 5:1-20.  I won't paste the entire passage here, but I highly encourage you to go read it.

What is happening here is that Jesus and the disciples have just gotten off a boat in the country of Gerasenes and they immediately encounter a demon-possessed man.  This miraculous healing is wonderful and full of many details that you simply must read for yourself.  But the interesting fact that stuck out to me as I was reading it was found in verses 18 and 19:
18 As he [Jesus] was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”
Mark 5:18-19 ESV

What grabs my attention in this passage is that the healed man begs to go with Christ, yet Jesus tells him no and gives him something else to do.  Hasn't Jesus' message been, "Follow me" yet here he is telling this man no... hmmm.  The two points I take from this exchange is 1- Jesus is in control and 2- Not all of us are called to the same life.

1-Jesus is in control
See, Jesus knows much more than we do.  He knows the why's that we cannot know.  To us, a man who had just been healed of a possession of thousands of demons, a legion of them, would prove to be a very loyal follower and probably someone we could count on to have our back.  But that's human thinking.  Jesus, being human probably realizes this, but he is also God and therefore, he knows that in the big picture he doesn't need just another follower or for someone to have his back- God's pretty much got that covered... What he needs is disciples.  People who will learn from him and go on after him.  And honestly, he needs the particular ones who were the ones he had, and only he knows why.

2- Not all of us are called to the same  life
As a Christian, I get into the habit sometimes of doing good for goodness' sake. ;-) For example, say there is a ministry within the church, a particular position perhaps, well obviously the good thing to do would be to fill it if no one else has, BUT, that may not actually be the RIGHT thing.  Is it a ministry? Check.  Is it building up the kingdom? Check.  Is it something our church supports and needs workers to do? Check and check.  Is it an area that God has called you to serve in?  Hmmm, wellll... And there you go, doing good for goodness' sake and not perhaps for God's.  Following Jesus was a very self-sacrificing role.  These men had to leave their families and jobs and travel from village to town trusting God to provide dwelling and food for them.  But not all were called to that high task.  Obviously, because Jesus denies this man the opportunity. 

But part 2 of part 2... or maybe B, whatever, the second part of this is that though we may not be called to the task we deem worthy, it doesn't mean we aren't called to act.  Jesus didn't just tell this man no, and then turn and walk away.  No, in verse 19 it says that Jesus told him to go home and tell all of his friends and family how much God has done and how much mercy he showed.  And verse 20 said he did just that!  Jesus asked this man to be a witness to his family and friends.  He doesn't call everyone to be a missionary in Africa, he calls us to witness about him right where we are, where he has called us to be. 

The hope we can take out of this passage is that you are no better or worse off than anyone else who is serving the Lord.  You are no more worthy or less worthy.  Whether you are called to teach, preach, sing, take meals, be a mom, be a nurse, or be a foreign missionary, God has called you to a specific calling that is unique to you.  He has uniquely blessed you with the gifts and talents to do exactly what he has asked of you.  He is in control and He knows why. And He expects us to be faithful.

So stop comparing yourself to others.  Stop serving where you aren't called.  And start seeking God and following his direction in your life.  Because contrary to what prosperity preachers preach *cough*JoelOsteen*cough* God doesn't want you to have your best life now, he cares about the big picture of eternity and wants you to do what brings the most honor and glory to HIS name, not your own.

Love in Christ, 


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