By Kim Josephson
When we moved to
Oklahoma this summer, one question kept hounding my soul. It was this - can a
man know God? Of course everything in me answered with a quick and definitive
yes, but that only made the next question even more poignant - then why don’t
you know Him better?
This was something else altogether. The longer I thought about it, the harder it pressed me. Why don’t you know Him better? became, why don’t you know Me better? This was not the devil trying to condemn my sloth and self-reliance. It was the Holy Ghost speaking to my heart. It was Jesus inviting me into a closer relationship with Him. It was Jesus inviting me to be His friend.
Every Sunday School child knows Jesus is his or her friend. We’re told constantly that God loves us. “Yes Jesus loves me”, “Jesus loves the Little Children”, and the countless sermons we’ve heard about how much God loves us form the seedbed of our faith. Yes, we believe that He is, that He loves us and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6). We understand that God cares about every detail of our lives - even down to the number of hairs on our head! We understand that He has compassion for us - that He remembers our frame and has pity on us. We count on His forgiveness and rely on all the promises of His love toward us. We trust that He will stick closer than a brother and that He will never leave us or forsake us. We know that He is touched by our infirmities and shares our sorrows. He is a friend beyond compare. But what about us? Are we Jesus’ friends?
What does it mean to be Jesus’ friend? Jesus said in John 15:14:
Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Again in John 14:21:
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me…
in vs. 23 He continues:
If a man love me, he will keep my words…
and the next verse provides the contrast:
He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings…
Isn’t it amazing that in our day so little attention is paid to the “red letter” words of Jesus Christ! In fact, we’ve been told just the opposite! We’ve been taught that our obedience really doesn’t matter, and yet, obedience is at the very root of Jesus’ own definition of friendship with Him. We’ve been taught that if we simply believe that Jesus is the Christ and that He is risen from the dead, that everything’s cool with God. But what about all these words of Jesus? Could it be that Jesus just didn’t get it? I shudder at the blasphemy of the thought and yet am staggered by people, church leaders included, who ignore the words of the Son of God! How dare we avoid His words to hold on to some cherished religious tradition we’ve picked up along the way!
No! Let’s get it straight! Jesus knows exactly what He is talking about and He makes it so clear, even a child can understand it! John 14:15 makes it plain:
If ye love me, keep my commandments.
That’s what He said and that’s what we must do!
We say, “I love you Jesus” and then go on in disobedience. We say, “I love you Lord” and continue in some sin God has spoken to us about numerous times before, it’s time to come to our senses! Jesus said in Luke 6:46:
… why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Too long we have made excuses for our sins! Too long we have made excuses for our half-hearted commitments! Too long we’ve excused our prayerlessness, our carelessness, our covetousness and many other things that interfere with our relationship with Him! According to Jesus there is no excuse, and we just don’t love Him like we should! We have got to get this straight if we want to be His friends. Read on.
One of the most misused words in the Church today is the word relationship. A relationship is supposed to be a two-sided thing. The caring is supposed to go both ways! If Jesus cares about what breaks my heart, I’m supposed to care about what breaks His heart. If He shares my sorrows, then I’m supposed to share His sorrows. Too often we try to use God to make our lives what we want them to be. Our prayers are like Christmas lists for the big Santa in the sky! It’s blasphemous in its arrogance and its ignorance. Believe it or not we’re here to serve Him - not the other way around! We’re quick to tell God how we feel about things. But I ask you; do you ever ask Him how He feels about things? Have you ever felt His pain or sorrow about some situation? Do you even think that God suffers?
I do. I think God’s heart breaks at much of what is going on in the world today. There is so much violence, so much hatred, so much killing. How can His heart not ache? From ethnic cleansing (isn’t that a nice name for murderous genocide) to drive-by shootings in America, surely all heaven must weep! God’s whole redemptive plan is to save man and give him life and love and yet satan inspires selfishness, destruction, and death. Just as heaven rejoices when a sinner repents and comes into the kingdom, I am sure there is a dreadful sorrow over one who rejects the Holy Spirit’s pleading for the last time and rushes headlong into an eternal hell.
How do you think God feels about the domestic problems here in the US? What does He feel when some woman is beaten, some child abused? What does He feel, when someone takes their own life, or the lives of others? What does He feel when someone gives themself over to their lusts? When someone begins the self-destructive trip into alcohol or drugs or whoredoms? I believe God’s heart aches. Does your heart ache with His?
Even closer to home, what about when one of His “followers” betrays Him? I think it breaks His heart when we deny our Lord with some God-dishonoring behavior on Saturday night and then seal it with a sweet little “Judas” kiss on Sunday morning. We trample over the blood of Jesus during the week to have our own way and then sing “Have thine own way” during the invitation. It’s a mockery and surely His wrath is stirred. How dare we worship at the shrines of self-indulgence all week long and then offer God some half-baked leftovers on Sunday morning! God have mercy!
God’s heart is aching for the Church to get real and to be the Church 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! In fact, the Bible says in Romans 8, that the whole creation is groaning for the manifestation of the sons of God! The whole creation is longing to be delivered from all this death. For far too long we’ve been too much like the world! It’s time for us to “come out from among them, separate ourselves and touch not the unclean thing” (II Cor 6:17) Rise up O Men of God! God has given us everything we need to break the chains and set the captives free! He has given us the gospel and it is the power of God unto salvation for the whole man - spirit, soul and body. It is criminal for us to be silent with the world around us screaming in so much pain! We know all we need to know to get the job done - His name is Jesus! He is the only hope! Let the politicians debate, it is time for us to demonstrate His love toward this untoward generation! We will have to tell the truth. We will have to stand up, say no, and go against the flow of this world but as men see the light and repent and come to Jesus we will be on shouting ground! Hallelujah!
Simply put, if we’d stop messing with the world, and stop bickering among ourselves about all the little things and get on with the program of winning this world to Jesus, we would wreck Hell! If we would hazard our lives for the gospel like the early Church did, it would be said of us as it was of them, that they turned the world upside down with Jesus Christ (Acts 17:6.) And how would God feel then?
Jesus came to seek and to save those who were lost (Luke 19:10) Is that what you’re about? You should be, if you want to be His friend. Is that what your church is about? It should be - It Must Be! Jesus has given us everything we need to preach the gospel, to heal the sick, to cleanse the lepers, to cast out devils - to raise the dead! (Matt 10:7-8) Surely, we should be doing something!
Can a man know God? You know he can. Can you know him better? You know you can! So what will you do? Will you begin to give of yourself? To pray - to fast - to stand in the gap for others? Will you sacrifice your time, your comfort, your food, your love for others less fortunate than yourself? There is so much to do and so little time!
I close with just one last thought. In Matt. 25 Jesus tells about the coming judgement where He separates the sheep from the goats. Sheep on the right - Goats on the left. To the sheep He says:
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
Which group will you be in?
Can a man know God? You know he can. Can you know Him better? You know you can. Will you feel what He feels? Will you care about what He cares about? Will you do what He’s telling you to do? It’s up to you. Sheep or Goat? Will you be Jesus’ friend? It’s your choice.