John 7: This entire chapter highlights the different responses to Jesus. His own brothers did not believe in him. They actually encouraged Jesus to go to Jerusalem for the Feast, hoping he would be killed by the Jewish leaders. Could you imagine your own siblings wanting to see you get killed! Of course, many of the Jewish leaders didn’t believe in him either. They misunderstood and falsely accused Jesus over and over again. Instead of being inspired by Jesus’ insightful teaching, they would nit-pick. Instead of praising God for the miracles Jesus did, they would get upset about when he did it- if he did it on the Sabbath day. While many did not believe Jesus, there were some who did “put their faith in him.”
Today, I am going to put my faith in Jesus. I mean, I’m not just going to say I believe in him; I’m actually going to intentionally act upon those beliefs. So, for example, if I really believe Jesus when he says he is “the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6) then I will act on this by doing my part to, with “gentleness and respect,” embody and proclaim the good news of Christ to others. If I really believe Jesus when he says that if we want to be forgiven by God we must be willing to forgive others, then I will do what it takes to really forgive those who hurt me. Today, I want to be counted among those who don’t just say they believe but who live as if they believe!
John 8: The verse that hit me like a ton of bricks in this chapter was v. 29. Jesus says “The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” Jesus suggests that the presence of God is with us in a pronounced way when we live our lives simply to please him. In one sense, God is not far from any one of us. But if we’re not doing what pleases him, we grieve him and distance ourselves from his presence. The reason why Jesus had the consistently intimate relationship with God that so many of us want is because he was moment by moment obedient to the Father. What he said, what he did, what he thought flowed out of his deep desire to please God. And because of this, the power of God was unleashed in Jesus’ life in spectacular ways.
I’m reading a book that I’ve read a few times called The Sacrament of the Present Moment. It’s an old classic book, written in the 1700s. The author’s main point is that sainthood is achieved quite simply by submitting obediently to God moment by moment in the small and big things of life. Think about it. What if all followers of Christ lived with this commitment? Think of how the world would be different if nothing else mattered (peoples’ opinions, our desires) but doing what pleases God. Imagine how simple our lives would be if there was only one consideration behind everything we did- what can I do to please God? Today, I am going to be conscious of pleasing God in every word I say, every action I commit, every thought I think, and every decision I make.