Imagine a merry world where there’s no sight of towering skyscrapers, zero smell of smoke from cars, absence of sound from cellphones, and no touch of influence from convenient computers. All you can see from left to right are multitudes of busy, chattering people with their sandy sandals. And in this dry and arid world, Jesus is not widely known, ‘Jesus’ being just an ordinary name of some strange dude who, by word of mouth, is just starting to become the hot topic of your circle of friends.
And then there are these few handful of men who, having been the witnesses of the life of this ‘Jesus’, felt a kind of sudden strong feeling (the kind of feeling you get when you’ve discovered that you’ve won a reward that you really want but didn’t really expect to win). Because of this, these men resigned from their careers, threw up their planned future, and took on a totally different path of life. With their new path in life, they moved from cities to cities and walked from towns to towns with the goal of spreading the influence of this ‘Jesus.’
You can imagine that the new life that these ordinary men embraced is the total opposite of the word “comfort.” Some had simple sandals (some probably even barefooted).
Some took part-time jobs just to afford needed things.
Some got imprisoned by order of the government.
Some got beaten.
Some got threatened to death.
Some got murdered.
But they didn’t care. They thought that their work of spreading this ‘Jesus’ is all worth the pain and suffering. Their mind was fixed on their mission and their heart madly in-love with the second life that this ‘Jesus’ promised.
They didn’t pray for a comfortable life retirement at the beach. They didn’t seek and “claim” the trendy new four-wheeled vehicle. They didn’t even care what their friends thought of them (well they probably did care and got hurt in the process, but that’s beyond my point). They didn’t care if their life had become foolish to the eyes of many. All they cared was the promises and influence that this ‘Jesus’ made, and they were willing to go through the lengths of rejection from family and friends, rebellion to powerful church leaders, agonizing tortures, being burned alive at stake, and even to be nailed at a horrid upside-down wooden cross.
But in the end, they were joyous.
These men sought no comfort in life: This ‘Jesus’ is their comfort and is their life.
They were determined to the death.
They were willing to lose their earthly life for the promise of a gloriously more beautiful one.
They became slaves of Christ, not “masters of Jesus.”
Are We Living A Lie?
At this point, you may be wondering what I mean by being a “master of Jesus.”
I’d define a “master of Jesus” as someone who believes that they can command God to give them their personal desires by using the name of Jesus. In addition to this, this is someone who firmly believes that God desires for them to be ‘happy’, ‘rich’, ‘in perfect health’, and ‘successful’ at all times in this earthly life. Thus, the term “master of Jesus.”
But, is this what the God of the Bible really promised us? Is it our destiny to be champions and takers of this world? Did our Lord promise us that we’ll have hundreds of billions of cash stashed in the bank account? Did God really promise us perfect physical health? Did the Creator promise us total happiness while we’re still breathing the dusty air of this planet?
Allow me to answer those questions by painting another picture in your mind:
Did Paul not make tents just to make ends meet? Did not the Bible describe us as “foreigners of this world”? That we are not of this world? Didn’t Paul got shipwrecked, got imprisoned, received a “thorn in the flesh”, and had an unattractive body? Did Christ not say that its easier for the camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich young man to Heaven? Didn’t Peter volunteered to be crucified upside down because he felt that he isn’t worthy to be crucified in the same way as his Master? Didn’t the early Christians, having rebelled against the tyrant Catholic rule for the battle of exposing Truth, die of sufferings, consummation of fire, and inhuman tortures?
Let me now end the painting of the already grotesque picture by not counting the life of Job, the other apostles, and the other many many brave saints of the past.
When did this trendy false gospel of being a “master of Jesus” began? When did human beings have the nerve to command God to give them their desires? When did Christians have the right to be arrogant so as to claim that they are equals with the understanding of God? When did mere creations able to command their Creator by naming and claiming things?
Is it right for a pot to say to its potter: “Hey Mr.Potter, I don’t like the shape that you’re molding me into. Make me like that shape! I know you want me to be like that shape so I can be happy!”?
When did we begin this culture of looking forward to the promises and temporal pleasures of this world, instead of the better promises, eternal pleasures, and hope of real Heaven?
I believe one of the reasons for this (aside from this event having been prophesied already by the Bible) comes down to the nature that it’s difficult for us human beings to believe in a God that is sovereign. History even has evidence that our species has this inner desire to be like God. We want to be God, or even atleast understand God. It’s hard for us to accept that there’s an all-powerful Being in “our Universe” that we can’t understand. We fear those that we do not understand. And if there’s an all-powerful Being that we can’t contain in our finite minds who can become a potential hindrance to our human desires, we naturally oppose it. Thus, we try to make something up.
Us, not in control? What will happen of my work? My study? My life? My plans? And there’s a Being out there who controls the fabrics of time and space, and who’s weaving the stories of history just as He pleases?
We find that idea very uncomfortable. We feel violated.
You feel the feeling, don’t you? I feel you.
But We Can Understand, Partially.
The good news is, even thought we can’t fully understand the entirety of the being of God and His plans, we can understand tiny bits of glimpses of God and His plans. He has allowed us to. In fact, I believe He wants us to. That’s where the Bible comes in and its immense importance.
But bringing the Bible to the table also introduces a new kind of danger that any serious Christian should be in constant alert of: false teachings. These false teachings comes of two kinds: the teachings grown out of tradition, and the teachings grown from “gospel cherry-picking”. To the sound Christian, the first kind will be quite easy to spot since the teaching will have zero biblical foundation that supports it. But the second kind is a lot more subtle and more unforgiving. The first time you hear this teaching, it will sound that there’s nothing wrong with it because you’ll be presented with Bible verses. But most Bible verses aren’t lone islands. It is a grave mistake for us to “cherry-pick” verses, picking just the good verses that fit our personal agendas then neglecting the not-so-good verses that is in conflict with our plans. Doing that “cherry-picking” also encourages the division of Christian denominations, discourages smart unbelievers who want to try Christianity, promotes individual pride, and just spreads out pure evil falsehood to the world (as if there’s not enough falsehood in our world already).
I admit that there are a lot of people who are far more capable of discussing this issue than me, but without a streak of courage on my part especially as a follower of Christ, I’d be a pitiful creation unworthy of following Christ.
The way I see it from my mind, the Bible is like a whole book of sub-books with a single cohesive grand epic story of our past, our present, and our future. The verses aren’t independent of each other. In fact, when reading a verse on the Bible, we should aim to understand the verse’s context, the surrounding verses and chapters, who the writer of the verse was, who the book/letter was written for, and its importance to the totality of the message of the Bible. The very serious Christians that I know even dig the original Hebrew and Greek words that are being used by the Bible so as to avoid the possibility of misinterpretation of translations. Some even study Hebrew and Greek culture so as to understand why the writers of these verses used such words and tone in their writings. Some even take into consideration the personalities of the writers.
These men take the study and understanding of the Bible seriously. I really think we should learn from their practice.
People believe what they want to believe, but it is very important to know the Truth, otherwise we are living our life based on a lie.
It is very important to know the real Jesus based on how He revealed Himself in the Bible, otherwise we’ll be serving ourselves an imaginary friend who we just personally named “Jesus”.
Is it possible for a faithful church person, blinded by false teaching, devoted himself to serving a “personalized Jesus Christ”, then when finally time comes when they’ll meet face to face with the Eternal Judge, He’ll say:
“I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”? [excerpt from Matthew 7:21-23]
As fellow dear Christians supposedly belonging to the same body and to the same future, let us not throw away the importance of studying the absolute Truth, otherwise we’ll fall away from Truth.
Let us not throw away the practice and study and teaching of solid, accurate Biblical foundation. And with this, let us throw away any grown teaching and practice that isn’t from the nature of the Bible, throwing away any personal agendas and wacky teachings.
Let us not rely on charismatic preachers, on the eloquence of words, on the use of power, and on human opinions. Let us instead put our focus on the understanding and the explanation of the teachings of the Bible, and on the teachings of the Bible alone.
Let us faithfully, fearfully, and diligently pursue the absoluteness of the Truth of Christ to the best of our abilities in the same way that His rich, strong unrelenting love pursues us to the best of His.