“DON’T GET TOO CLOSE” By Pastor YAU
Text: John 10:1-11 January 30, 2011.
1) Replace it with Jesus: During a devotional session at a Christian conference, the leader asked the participants to read aloud 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, but substitute the word “Jesus” for “love.” No one has any problem reading, “Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind. Jesus does not envy, Jesus does not boast, Jesus is not proud. Jesus is not rude, Jesus is not self seeking, Jesus is not easily angered...Jesus never fails.” Everyone enjoyed the reading.
2) Replace it with your name: Then the leader said, “Now, read that same passage aloud again. But this time, replace your first name instead of Jesus.” Everyone laughed nervously at the suggestion. “I want you to begin read it now.” The leader said. Slowly, quietly everyone started to read the passage as directed. I said the words that felt so uneasy and untrue: “David is patient, David is kind. David does not envy, David does not boast, David is not proud. David is not rude, David is not self seeking, David is not easily angered and David will never fail.” The above is the personal experience of David McCasland, a contributor of OUR DAILY BREAD, a devotional publication.
WE DON’T WANT IT TOO CLOSE:
1) It isn’t our goal: Most Christians love to be just the ordinary, the common people, the moderates. Taking God, the Bible, the church and everything else about being a Christian too seriously is a scary thought to most people. Most people just want to be saved, be good people, but not too close to God. To most of these people, taking God and His teaching too personal is just not their purpose.
2) It is too costly: If you know that to be a true follower of Jesus is not a laughing matter but a serious commitment, then you know there is a high price you need to pay to follow Him. Jesus made it very clear when he said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matt. 16:24) Just look at the 3 verbs in this sentence, you can tell that the costs of following Jesus is so high and most Christians are not ready or not willing to pay that high price.
3) No one can do that: This is not making excuses, it is an honest admission of our true face. If Christian writers can feel sheepish in reading the above verse with personal names, how much less the everyday common Christians can do to make the practice of the Bible personal. Repeat the above story and put in your first name in the sentences and see how you feel about it. Certainly you won’t feel comfortable about it because there is none who can do what the Bible says we need to do.
4) It is uncomfortable: Most Christians love to have a buffer zone, some space between him/her and God. These people want to save some room for their own freedom of choice and life style. It certainly will make them very uncomfortable if their Christian life is too close to God or too personal. To sing the hymn “I Surrender All” is fine, but not to put it in real life. We love to keep a safe distance with people and things in our life for protection and freedom. We also want to do that with God.
1) Life is about give and take: A good relationship is always a two-way street, it takes both sides to build and keep. This is true in human, it is true, to great degree, to God. You can’t have a close or intimate relationship with anyone if you purposely keeping a distance. This is also true to your relationship with God. That doesn’t mean that God is far away from anyone, but it does mean that when someone wants to stay away from God, he will be far away from God. Read the Prodigal Son story in Luke 15, you will know what the Bible says about relationship with God.
2) You will be on your own: Even though the father in the Luke 15 story worried and waited for his son to come back, the son is on his own out there without all the resources, love and support his father had to make his life safe and sound. This will be the same when a Christian wants to stay away from God: he will be on his own in everything he may face. May be that is exactly the reason why some Christians want to do life without getting too close to God. There was a car commercial sometime back that read like this: “You asked for it, you got it.”
3) God doesn’t need anything: Although the Bible says that if we bear much fruit, our Father in heaven will receive the glory. (John 15:8) But the Bible also says that “The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” (Psalm 19:1)No human effort may bring glory to God than who God is and what God has done. God doesn’t need anything from anyone to bring him glory or whatever else. God desires a close relationship with us, not for His needs but for ours. He wants to give us His love, blessing, eternal life and guidance. He doesn’t need any one to give Him anything to make Him a better God.
4) All we have are from God: Our very life, breath and all our needs are gifts of God. (Acts 17:25) Jesus said: “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) James said, “You don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist, appear for a little while and then vanishes.” (4:15) Except the spiritually deaf and blind, we realize our dependence on God all our life including existence, strength, opportunities, all that we may achieve of possess are from God. Leave God alone will surely jeopardize the quality and productivity of our life.
GOD WANTS GET CLOSE TO US: (John 10:1-11)
1) God desired personal in the O. T.: Through out the history of the Old Testament, God showed his desire of a personal relationship with His people all the way from Adam to the minor prophets. He created man and woman, communicated with them, called some of them to follow His plans for us, instructed them laws and statues they need to follow, protected them from their enemies and blessed them with abundance. Repeatedly, God says he wants to be our God and we are His people. (Exodus 19:5; Lev. 26:12; Deut. 4:20)
2) God desired personal in the N. T. The incarnation of God in Jesus Christ is the best demonstration of God’s desire to have a personal relationship with us, His people. The ministry of Jesus, his interaction, teaching, healing all shows us the personal touch God loves to have with us. His call of the disciples, his giving of the Great Commission to reach and save the world, his sending of the Holy Spirit to live in us all point to his loving care of our well being. There is no other deity of all religions who has such a close and personal relationship with human beings. We don’t have a fearful superpower spiritual being. We have a God who wants to be our Father, Friend and Savior.
3) Jesus desires personal with us: In our text today, John 10:1-11, Jesus demonstrated his desire to have a personal relationship with us in a vivid picture: he, our shepherd, we, his sheep. What else can be more personal than the close relationship between a shepherd and his sheep? He talks about being the door through him we can access God. He talks about his leadership of our life and his provision of our needs. He also talks about he knows us by name individually and he talks about his voluntary death to save our souls. What else do we need to understand and respond to his desire to have a personal relationship with us? If we treat him as a distant deity, we will certainly break His heart.
4) Many faithful are personal with God: Throughout the history of Christian faith, countless faithful children of God had personal relationship with him and received untold blessing, love, grace and strength from Him. I am sure even here today, we have many of our own people who can tell us they have a personal relationship with God and how that influences their lives, their sense of security, strength for the day and strong hope for the future. What a blessing to have a personal relationship with God when we are just human beings. Jesus even promised to be with you and me all the way until the end of our life or of this world.
1) Everything is personal: Even the phrase “nothing personal” is so popular in today’s conversation and relationship, there are things we love to be personal. Things like friendship, family, marriage and commitment, school and jobs, we long to have all these personal and close to heart. To be personal means to be in the heart, to be trustworthy, to have commitment, to be closely related. If everything is not personal, life is detached and with not much emotional values.
2) Be personal with God: God desires a personal relationship with us, so, we need to be personal with Him. The awesome feeling of having a personal God is beyond literal expression. Imagine you have a personal relationship with some powerful people and how that means to your life. Now you have God as your Father, a friend and a lifeguard, so personal to your everyday life. So, we want to ask Him to come into our hearts, to be the center of our life, a guide to our future and a stronghold in time of our needs. The best part is all these are for free because Jesus has paid it all for everyone who will ask for it.