Walk up to the average person and ask them what they want. With reasonable certainty, I could guess that they would say they would want money, a new home (or current mortgage paid off), a new car, or to be debt free. There are a few others out there I know who might say something like World Peace, or to rid the world of hunger, disease, or some other worldwide problem. However, that is not where I want to go with this question.
What I want you to think about is your inner personal life. When thinking about you, your life, personally speaking, answer the question: What do I want? Set aside externals, think internally. What do you want on the inside?
Whether you have something in mind or not, keep reading.
You see, many people are pursuing things they think they need, and their pursuit has nothing to do with getting their physical needs met. They are in pursuit of something missing. They are seeking to fulfill physically a need that has not been met on the inside, spiritually.
Christians like to say “Jesus is the answer” to these needs, and I would agree; however, in my estimation, the very people who say that do not understand the meaning of those words. Strange, no? Christians, who are saved and have Jesus Christ in their hearts, will say “Jesus is the answer” and still fall into the trap of pursuing physically something they need to fill a void they feel on the inside.
Sometimes these pursuits lead people (Christians included) to drink alcohol, have extra-marital affairs, fall into drug abuse, gambling, or some other form of addiction. People who did these things before they were saved still have the capability to fall into these snares again, but with a difference. Those who are saved have the answer they are seeking, but are not applying the answer. The answer is “I AM” but they do not really understand that as an answer no more than I did as a 7 or 8 year old little boy.
When I first heard “Jesus is the answer” I was about 7 or 8 years old. In my mind all I could think of is the grade I would have had if I had tried to write “Jesus” on all the answer blanks on a particularly hard test I’d had the week before.
What does that mean, really? Jesus is the answer?
Someone once explained it to me this way, “Whatever you need, God will provide.” So, if I really need something, God will give it to me? OK. Sure. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and the gold in every mine. God created the universe by speaking it into existence. So, yeah, I believed God could give me whatever I needed. Yet, something about the explanation didn’t sit quite in the center. It was as though someone cut the last piece of cake in “half” and left with the bigger piece saying both were equal.
Something was missing, and that nagging feeling never quite went away.
In fact, it actually came glaringly close in an “in your face” kinda way when real life problems would surface.
Years later, I learned from the Bible that I am supposed to love my enemies. My immediate question was, “HOW!?” As the preacher spoke I became lost in my own imagination. I thought of battles and wars, where entire divisions of soldiers were being thrown at each other in conflict, and all I could think of was some Christian there in the midst of all the chaos of battle going “I love you man!” as he shot the enemy at point blank range. That thought sent chills down my spine. Words like “sociopathic murderer” and “crazy lunatic” sprung up in my mind.
How can we possibly really love our enemies? If we ever truly come to a point where we love our enemies, wouldn’t that then change the way we look at them, treat them, and act towards them?
Even now, I have to admit I still struggle sometimes!
That struggle spoke to the missing need in my life, even though I am saved. How can this be? If I have Jesus in my life then I have all I need. So then why do I struggle with such questions? Well, any doctor will tell you that having an answer and applying an answer are two different things. It’s like having medicine for some illness in your pocket, but never taking it internally.
I remember a time when bills came due I could not pay and our little family sank slowly deeper and deeper into debt. I vividly remember thinking “Where is the answer to this?!” My wife and I had not mismanaged the money. In fact, quite the opposite. My wife and I had been very frugal, yet each month there was just a little more money needed than we had in our bank accounts, and debt was accumulating.
Each day, each week, and each month I was growing more and more frustrated.
Truthfully, “Jesus is the answer” rang very hollow as a solution.
I just wanted to laugh, in a very mean spiteful way.
I was dismissive of the very notion “Jesus is the answer” because unless He came down from heaven to cut a check right this very minute, Jesus was no solution for the debts we held.
Then it hit me.
I had fallen into the trap of the pursuit of things outside for answers to things I really needed inside.
At the moment of my greatest frustration, if someone had asked me what I needed, I would have said “money” or “to be debt free” at that exact time of my life. However, I look back now and see that maybe God was trying to show me something else. What I thought I was missing on the outside was showing me something I was really missing on the inside.
I am saved by God’s grace, but I was still missing what I needed. My perception was that I needed something on the outside, when what I needed was something on the inside. I had the answer, but I was not applying it. I needed more than just the words “I AM” in my life, I needed to apply the meaning.
You may be asking now, “How does someone do that?” Glad you asked!
There is only one way I know that God could have come down from heaven in the form of Jesus Christ and love a world so much He was willing to lay down His life for us. According to the Bible, it is the greatest expression of love (John 15:13) but how could He do it? The answer speaks to the “how” of the commandment “love your enemies” and the other commandments in the Bible we find so easy to read yet difficult to live by.
Jesus can love you as an individual because He is love.
It kind of puts these passages into perspective, and helps us understand I AM a little better.
1John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1John 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
1Jo 4:12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
I am guilty. How can God forgive me?
I am lonely. How can God comfort me?
I am in pain. How can God heal me?
I am suffering inside. How can God help me?
I am . . . How can God . . . ?
I am not worth loving. How can God love me? God is love; and THAT is the power and meaning of I AM applied.© 2010-2013 John Bagwell www.MenRising.com All Rights Reserved