I hope yesterday’s entry wasn’t too weird for you.
I came across some transcripts from Rich Mullins concerts that really moved me; I thought I would share parts of them with you. If you don’t have time or patience, just read the first paragraph. It’s great.
People always say, “I don’t know where the Lord is leading me.” I always say, it don’t really make a whole lot of difference. The important thing is to be where He has led you to already. If He has led you into a marriage, then be faithful there. If He has led you into being single, then be faithful there. If He has blessed you with many material goods, then be a good steward of those goods. And if He has blessed you by allowing you to imitate His life of poverty, then imitate it with great joy. Someone once asked Mother Teresa if she thought that we didn’t suffer in the United States like other people did because we were a righteous nation, and Mother Teresa said, “Oh, no, I’m afraid you’re so wrong.” They said, “What do you mean?” She said, “I don’t think you suffer because I don’t think you are worthy to suffer.”
Don’t resist the work of God in your life by asking for an easy life. If you live really good, folks, you’ll get older. I guarantee you that, you will get older.
It’s amazing to me to see pictures of my grandparents, when they were kids, and how handsome, and pretty and everything they were, and bright looking. And then seeing them when they were very, very old, I never would have connected the two. Life had beat them beyond recognition, in many ways. They had arthritis, they had cornea dystrophy. Eventually they died, and we all are gonna do that sooner or later.
And if you live really good, you will be beaten. If you really try to walk in faith, you will fall. You will stumble. If you believe that your life in Christ is one constant spiral upward, then you are badly mistaken. And if you think it’s heretical to say, then read the lives of the apostles. Their lives were blemished, their track records were not particularly good.
If you try to have faith, you will be attacked by doubts you never knew you were capable of. But you keep on believing, even if you fall, even if you struggle with doubts, you keep on believing. And if you live a life that is marked by hope, by the belief that God is good, and there is goodness in the world that awaits us, you’ll be disappointed. You’ll be crushed, even, sometimes. The Scriptures say hope deferred makes the heart grow sick. You’re gonna have a sick heart. But you keep on hoping. And if you choose to love, you will be misunderstood, you will be betrayed, you will be rejected by the people who most desperately need the love you have to offer. And remember that when you try to love, it’s not like love in the movies. In the movies, when people are loving each other physically, they always are perfectly fit and tan, and beautiful. Most of y’all, I’ve seen you, you don’t look like that.
We are blemished people, and in order to love anybody, in any way, we have to expose that part of us that we’d rather keep hidden. Our own selfishness, our own fears, our own hangups, and it’s embarrassing. So humiliating. But you keep on loving.
Many of us are obsessed with becoming rich, many of us are obsessed with becoming smart. But all of our wisdom, all of our great insights, we see in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect comes, that which is in part is done away with. But there are three things that will remain: faith, and hope, and love. Make sure you live in those. And if you do, you will be hurt, you will be crushed. But when you wash up on that other side, when life is done with you, when you wash up over there, them angels that were looking at your little works of art and saying how tragically misconducted they were, they will look at what’s left of your body and say, “Man, what is this!” And Jesus will say, “Oh, I know who that is. They are mine!” And the angel will say, “How do you know he’s yours?” And Jesus will say, “Well, you see that sweater they’ve got on?”
“I knit that for them.”
I remember, you know, you go to these parties on Saturday night and people would say, about 8:00 on Sunday morning “Whoa, I have to go – I gotta get to church!” People would say, “Why do you want to go to church, all those hypocrites.” And I say, “Look, why do I want to stay here with all you hypocrites?” (audience laughter) I never knew why going to church made you a hypocrite. They’d say because you go to church and you’re all “Holy, Holy, Holy” for two or three hours, and then you go home and sin. I’d say “exactly!” (audience laughter) For two or three hours you’re doing pretty good! (audience laughter) Maybe the problem isn’t that you go to church, maybe the problem is that you go home!
I never understood why going to church made you a hypocrite either, because nobody goes to church because they’re perfect. If you’ve got it all together, you don’t need to go. You can go jogging with all the other perfect people on Sunday morning (audience laughter). Every time you go to church, you’re confessing again to yourself, to your family, to the people you pass on the way there, to the people who will greet you there, that you don’t have it all together. And that you need their support. You need their direction. You need some accountability, you need some help.
Saying someone is a hypocrite is such a sore thing to say. It’s kind of like saying they’re human. We know there are people who think better of us than we know they have reason to. Funny thing about the whole thing. I love the story about Jesus calling Nathaniel. I think it’s so funny. That he calls him and he says, “O behold an Israelite in whom there is nothing false.” And Nathaniel, I love this, because he’s like “Oh, how did you know me?” And Jesus said “Look, before you ever saw me, while you were still sitting under a fig tree, I saw you.” And Nathaniel, who had so casually met the Lord, suddenly was crushed by the knowledge that God has of him.
I think it’s funny that when Adam and Eve sinned, they covered themselves with a couple fig leaves. Then Nathaniel, who I think the Lord said sarcastically “O behold an Israelite in whom there is nothing false,” he was sitting under a whole tree of those leaves. I think we all do that too. And we have reason to. If you knew what I was really like, you wouldn’t pay to be here. I’d have to go out and get a real job (audience laughter).
The think that’s so funny about all that though, is that God does see us as we are. And you can’t fool Him. And what’s even funnier – you know the story about Jesus and the rich young ruler? I love that story. And you know what I think is really funny is that in all three of the synoptic Gospels, that story immediately follow the story of Jesus blessing the children, which I think is a hysterical story, because you think about the apostles and how they’re good Hebrews and they’re good monotheists and they’re probably really struggling with the idea that God can become flesh. Lucky for Jesus they weren’t Greeks – they never would have bought that.
They finally begin to get a hold of, they get a grasp that maybe God can become flesh and dwell among us, maybe God can be a man, and then they come back and not only is God a man, but He’s acting like an idiot! He’s hanging out with a bunch of kids. He’s blessing them, you know, and you think “How do you bless children?” Well, the best way I know is that you pick them up and you just throw them as high as you can, and you catch them right before they splatter (audience laughter). You get down on all fours and you run around the room and you let them ride you and you buck them off. You beard them. You put your mouth against their bellies and you make funny noises. Here’s Jesus probably doing all this business.
His disciples were humiliated! And they said “You should not be making such a fool of yourself!” And I love this, Jesus says, “Here, look, look fellas. I’ll call the shots here. I may be dumb, but I am God. And I’ll tell you what else, if you wanna come into my kingdom, you’ll come in like one of these or you won’t come in at all.” What is remarkable is that in all three synoptic Gospels, the rich young ruler comes up immediately afterwards and asks the stupidest question in the Bible, which American Christians in the twentieth century perpetually ask, and it’s such a hack off. “Good Master, what must I do that I might have eternal life?” And the reason this is such a ridiculous question is because while this young ruler is coming up with this brilliant question for his big photo-op with the Master, the Master had already answered the question.
Jesus had just got done saying he must be like a child, or he cannot come into My kingdom. And this guy comes up and asks “what must I do?” It’s not what you do. It’s what you allow Christ to do. This young man was so arrogant that when God Himself spoke, he didn’t bother to listen.
And here’s the amazing thing in the Gospel of Mark, which you know is the briefest of the Gospels. And anytime you come across a detail in the book of Mark, take note of it, because he didn’t waste time. He gives us three details that the other two synoptics leave out. He says this amazing thing – that Jesus looked at the man. Jesus, who was God, is so humble, that when this man, who was a mere mortal, who would like you and me someday be dead and no more, and would just stink up the ground for a while and then that’s it. This man would not listen to God, but God is so humble that He took note of this man. He looked at him. And when God saw him, He loved him. And it was because God loved Him, I think, that He spoke.
Some of us are so afraid that God’s not going to look at us. So we’re out there doing all sorts of things to get God to take notice, but folks, God notices you. The fact is, He can’t take His eyes off of you. However badly you think of yourself, God is crazy about you. God is in love with you. Some of us even fear that someday we’ll do something so bad that He won’t notice you anymore. Well let me tell you, God loves us completely. And He knew us at our worst before He ever began to love us at all. And in the love of God, there are no degrees, there is only love.
So tonight I’m going to say to you what the angels said to every character in the Bible that they encountered, except for Mary, the mother of Jesus. They said “Don’t be afraid.” We’ve got a little while to go yet in this life, and it’s a scary thing, but don’t be afraid. Be of good cheer. He has overcome the world. And He has chosen to dwell within us. And we ain’t all that big a deal, but our Savior is. He will walk with us through this life, and when it’s over, He will raise us up again, and take us to be where He is. Not because of what we’ve done, but because of who He is. Because of the love He has for us. So go, and live