By Tony McKeown - We often want the easy path. It’s part of human nature to want to get there quickly. Our tendency is to find the quickest route to the destination:
- To get the answers before the lesson comes.
- To “clock” the game by as many cheats or formulae as we can find.
- To read the “executive summary”.
- To do a Google search for the answer to avoid the tedious task of research.
It’s a formula for answers rather than a process of learning. Jesus cut to the heart of discipleship with a question.
He questioned His disciples: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” Jesus asked. “Who do you say I am?” Matthew 16:13-15.
The disciples sat under Jesus’ teachings and heard the sermons He gave, (as did Judas).
Recently, local students were required to take their university exams online but were found to be networking via social media discussing their collective answers prior to submitting them. Administrators were “shocked” to find out?
How laughable! Its human nature to get to the destination by any means possible. For many, the answer appears more valuable than the lesson.
So it is; (at times) with our faith! It’s easier to ask someone for a word, or to pray for us, than it is taking personal responsibility and ownership for the behaviour that may have led us to our current need.
It is easier to interpret the Bible to fit our personal circumstances, than it is submitting to the truth of scriptural context. Faulty thinking develops faulty behaviour.
It becomes preferable to hear God through someone else, rather than spending time in personal prayer, reading His word and truly repenting of wrongful behaviour. Why?
Our ungodly nature wants the easy path. “Who in their right mind would take the hardest route?”
On my daily prayer walk there are two routes. One is predominantly downhill, the other predominantly uphill. It’s the same starting and finishing point, but incredibly differing levels of exertion. I know which one I prefer to walk; but lately I have been challenged to choose the harder path. I sweat more, gasp more, ache more and take longer to finish. It’s the same destination, but a very different outcome. (I live in Hillsborough; so the clue is in the name).
The gospel was never given for our ease, but our transformation. In fact, Jesus warned us fairly, that the path would be hard and narrow, and we would be hated, reviled and endure all manner of persecution because of the path we chose. Matthew 10:22. Matthew 7:13.
I believe the journey is more important than the destination. Why? For the destination is assured if we are walking the right path.
God HAS spoken to us clearly in both Old and New Testaments and through a myriad of ways:
Through Prophets – Priests – Kings – and Donkeys – Through Circumstances – Apostles – Common Men and Woman, Jesus’ life, and PRIMARILY through the written Word, (which endures), Matthew 24:35.
Editing and adjusting God’s Word to accommodate how society presently reflects itself is like trying to rub out the reflection in the mirror rather than working on the image being reflected in it. It changes nothing! If we have a problem with the image, there is no point in smashing the mirror.
The gospel message reflects God’s perfect image for us, transforming our broken reflection into the image of Christ, His Son. It’s the best news ever, and yet our image is all too often more reflective of society, than it is of God. See Genesis 1:27, Romans 1:23, Romans 12:1-2.
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, Colossians 1:15.
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4.
So how should we reflect the gospel in today’s society?
Throughout Biblical history, God has sought out and enabled individuals committed to growing in godly character, and called/equipped with wisdom and insight. Such men knowing the signs of the time and how to live in them.
…And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment. 1 Chronicles 12:32.
The Talmud* notes, that the wisest members of the Sanhedrin came from the men of Issachar. They were sought out because they had insight and solutions.
They knew what and how to think.
They knew when to act in battle and when to respond.
They knew who they were, not just a “lost tribe”. They were united as a unit of fighting men.
They knew who they represented in the overall scheme of things. 2 Chronicles 20:15.
They knew what to do in the times they lived.
They knew what was right, good, and evil. Deuteronomy 6:18.
They knew what the challenges were and were influential.
The men of Issachar are still out there today.
God has been preparing them over generations for times such as these.
They are united in cause; understand what tune to march to, and under whose banner to stand.
And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14.
Tony McKeown is a popular PK speaker and Senior Pastor of Eden Church in Onehunga, Auckland. His passion is to help people know God, find freedom, discover purpose and make a difference.