I am… What comes next? How do you conclude the statement? The choice will determine almost everything about your life. One short statement couldn’t get much more important. But we have examples! And they are definitely helpful, a little painful, and extremely encouraging.
Example: NOT The Ones You Think
Your mind already went to the I AM sayings of Jesus. John’s Gospel features 7 of them. That is my favorite of the four Gospels for many reasons. But this post is not about those seven statements of Christ. Although it’s good to be reminded of them. Jesus said, I AM the:
- Bread of Life – 6:35 & 48
- Light of the world – 8:12 & 9:5
- Door – John 10:9
- Good Shepherd – 10:11
- Resurrection and the Life – 11:25
- Way, the Truth, and the Life – 14:6
- True Vine – 15:1
Those were Jesus’ ways to complete the statement. And His Self-revelation teaches us an immense amount about Him. But His encounters around those statements are equally informative for us and about us!
I Am: In Contrasts
It is necessary for us to see ourselves on the pages of Scripture. That opportunity is almost always present. But we cannot identify with Jesus’ statements. They simply point out that He is very different from us. And that is our connection to two things:
- Our need of Him
- People in Scripture whose places we can/should assume
Here are examples of what I mean…
Look in John 4. The woman Jesus encountered was a Samaritan. She was an outcast and so were her people. We are not like Jesus. He is holy. Yet we are steeped in sin and outside what He created us to be. Jesus made it possible for us to ‘come inside’ but it behooves us to remember we began as outsiders.
The latter part of chapter 4 tells of the royal official whose son was dying. This man had a problem beyond his abilities. I do, too. In part, this post is driven by things I am literally unable to change. When I read of that father I have to put myself in his place. I also need intervention because I am unable. But the truth about our inabilities is they extend much further than we are willing to admit. Jesus can speak our problems out of existence as He did when He spoke a word of healing for the sick son. But there was a point larger than the boy’s health. The result of Jesus’ miraculous healing was that faith was born in the father and his household.
And if that doesn’t make the point about my/our lack of ability, Jesus said that apart from Him we can do absolutely NOTHING! We like to admit our inabilities briefly. Then when Jesus intervenes we rush back to thinking we are actually able to do something on our own. We are not. This life hack is about getting used to being dependent!
John 3 is about Nicodemus. He was forced to admit he didn’t understand spiritual things. This Jewish teaching of the Law couldn’t wrap his mind around the new things Jesus came to do and reveal. And we must put ourselves in his place. There are times when the things of God just don’t make any sense when compared to all we think we know. Answer? Believe and follow anyway!
Jesus’ disciples argued among themselves about which of them was the greatest. The mother of James and John wanted Jesus to position her sons on His right and left. In her culture those were the two most prestigious places. But that wasn’t the end of the disciples’ rivalries. They were having this argument among themselves at the Last Supper. That was when Jesus took a towel and washed their feet. We must also put ourselves in the place of those bickering disciples. Why? It still goes on and we are all guilty. And if I am obedient in counting my blessings and giving thanks then I can bypass some of my selfish nature. Then I can follow His example and serve others in His name.
One very puzzling and instructive account in Scripture is the opening of John 5. Jesus saw a multitude of sick people. The amazing thing is Jesus walked past many to heal one. Effective living is remembering we are chosen. But there is a subtle danger in that thought. In Jesus’ day there was no such thing and sports recruiting or a sports draft. It’s tempting to think of God choosing us in terms we know. But there was no cosmic draft with the Good Guy’s team vs. the Bad Guy’s team. NONE of us were chosen on merit. We have none. All of us are sinful through and through; from start to finish. Being chosen by God, solely on the basis of His grace, ought to fuel humility and gratitude. But pride always follows this thought: God made a pretty good choice when He got me.
John 6 has spawned volumes. It’s that rich. But it’s there that Jesus reveals Himself as the Bread of Life. I am invited to His table. It was a cultural metaphor for fellowship. Jesus’ declaration is His invitation to the intimate relationship He came to provide. And it is also His reminder that He is what we need to sustain our lives.
Jesus called many to follow Him. We often think only in terms of Him calling the twelve disciples. But Jesus repeatedly called people to believe and follow. And His calling is used to define our lives and our purpose. Jesus invited us to join Him in His purpose and His mission. He sends us in the same manner as He was sent. And our sending is for the same purpose as His. I’ve pointed this out before, but see His words again:
As the Father sent Me, I also send you. (John 20:21)
Early on I said this post could be encouraging. It’s something of an exercise in self-encouragement. We have some upcoming mission opportunities that lack adequate funding at this point. Like the royal official, I can’t solve that by myself. There is an effort in the 20/20 Challenge to address those needs. Please take a look and see the details there. Now, add the fact that our car has finally died. That combination of work and personal needs could overwhelm just about anybody.
Here’s what matters and ONE takeaway for you. I am:
- Chosen, Forgiven, and Inside
- Invited – to divine fellowship and inexhaustible supply
- Unable – to meet needs before me
- Called – to labor in His field for His glory
- Equipped – and able to do all things through Christ
- Thankful – for the ministry that has been entrusted to all of us
- Expectant – that He will do exceedingly and abundantly more than we can ask or imagine!
I don’t know what challenges you may be facing. But I hope you found some help and encouragement here.
Soli Deo Gloria!
About 20/20 Challenge & other opportunities to donate:
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