Jesus Will Walk through the Walls You Build

Walls

Even though we know Jesus is resurrected and lives, at the time of his crucifixion His disciples did not. We can argue they should have known. Jesus was pretty explicit about the events that would occur, but we also have the benefit of hindsight. Nevertheless, after His crucifixion the disciples were consumed with fear and doubt. They likely doubted their belief in who Jesus was. And they likely feared for their own lives. Sadly, Jesus telling at least four people to inform the eleven disciples He was alive did little, if anything, to a lessen their doubt. Then, three days after Jesus’ resurrection, an incident occurs that levels the disciples’ fear and doubt.

Locked in Fear and Doubt

In John 20:19-23 we can see the disciples hiding; hold up in a locked room. The bible says, “…the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews…” Then, out of nowhere, Jesus appears. The bible outright says “Jesus came and stood among them”. After seeing all of Jesus’ miracles (remember Jesus raised a man from the dead in front of them), Luke 24:37 records  they were “startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit”. So, to extinguish their fear and doubt, Jesus showed them the wounds in His hands and side. After alleviating their fear and doubt, Jesus commissioned them for the work of making disciples.

*Little side note: I think Thomas can get kind of an unfair rap for his doubt in Jesus’ resurrection. The other ten disciples’ didn’t believe that Jesus resurrected, despite having being told by four others. They continue to refuse believing until Jesus shows up and shows them His wounds. And, even after they touched His wounds, they still did not fully believe until He opened their minds to the truth of the scripture. Sounds like a deeper level of doubt and still Jesus came to them, quoted their doubts and commissioned them.

The Walls We Build

Walls

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If I am being honest, there have been times in my life that I was one of the people in that locked room. I have read the bible and I know what it says about who Jesus is and how the story ends. Jesus’ words to me, and us, are the same explicit ones He spoke to the disciples. But regardless of hearing those words, fear and doubt still show up. Tragedy has a way of flooding your heart and mind with both. And this is different than unbelief. I’m not fully convinced the disciples were in full blown “Jesus was not the Messiah” mode of thinking. It still seems a far distance for them to go from seeing all of His miracles and confessing Him as Messiah, to complete unbelief. What makes sense to me is they likely struggled with believing what they saw and what Jesus had revealed. Maybe I am wrong and they were in full-blown unbeliever mode, but I have my doubts.

What I do know is that the times when I struggled with doubt, it was never about who Jesus was, as my Messiah. I struggled with being afraid of outcomes and consequences. I struggled with doubting in His provision, goodness and grace. There were times I even doubted whether His love and forgiveness could actually reach the depths of my mistakes. As a result of those doubts and fears, I erected walls and locked doors so that I could close myself and my heart in. I did it as a way to protect myself. But what from? I was trying to protect myself from other, from consequences, and sometimes from God. Walls we build can often be very strong, making it difficult for anyone, even those who love us, to get in. This is never good for us. God did not create us to live inside our walls of doubt.

Does Jesus Walks through Our Walls

When Jesus appeared to the larger group of disciples the bible said He was simply “among them”. I have heard numerous sermons mention Jesus walking though the wall or the locked door. Since the bible does not actually say that, it is mostly conjecture. What is clear is that the disciples were hiding behind a locked door, meaning to keep people out, and Jesus was still appeared among them. There is no reference to Him unlocking the door; I think the door opening would have drawn the disciples’ attention. He just showed up. And that is the same way that He deals with our walls and locked doors. Asking whether Jesus walks through our walls, or locked doors, is the wrong question. A better question is, “Do I recognize Jesus when He appears inside of my walls?”

Jesus Among You

Even in your fear and doubt, Jesus is there; among you. He stands in the midst of your fear and doubt, shows the wounds He endured for you, confirms His love for you, and breaths His Holy Spirit into you (John 20:22). He does everything you need Him to do in order to remove your fear and doubt. The bible tells us, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” And we find that strength when we receive the truth He reveals and take comfort in His presence, inspire of our walls and doors. Then, we are able to unlock our door and go out into the world, confident in who Jesus is and in who we are in Him.

 

photo: Box of Crayons

Does God Qualify the Called?

called

There is a common saying among evangelicals that goes, “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called”. If you are not familiar with that saying, it essentially means that you do not have be skilled, or meet your preconceived prerequisites, for the task that God is calling you to. The idea is that if God is calling you to something He will equip you to complete it. It is a saying that carries forward the sentiment of Hebrews 13:21 which says, “Now may the God of peace… equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ…” It also harkens back to the biblical heroes who were called, by God, to complete a seemingly impossible task.

In every situation it was clear that the Saint was not qualified to complete the task, but in every circumstance God’s will was seen complete through them because God equipped them. It is a solid idea and a completely biblical concept. In fact, it is such a solid biblical concept that I have even heard pastors say it during sermons. By and large I do not have an issue with it being included in sermons; it is important for congregants to hear and understand that there are not specific “qualifications” to answer God’s call. Unfortunately there are those that will preach this idea and then tell people that they are not “qualified” to do what they feel God calling them to do.

Our Cautionary Tales

As we look through the bible we see this same issue throughout, where God calls a person and those close to him or her doubt their qualifications. People told Noah he was crazy for building an ark, something he was presumably unqualified to do. The Israelites continually doubted Moses leadership. David’s brothers doubted his anointing as king. Not only did others doubt their qualifications, the called person often argued how un-qualified they were.

In every circumstance, God still called them and still saw His will completed through them. And still, with all those examples at our fingertips, we choose the same path of telling others that they do not possess the skill-set to accomplish what they “think” they are being called to. We look through at a situation with our fallible human eyes and intuition and presume to know what God is doing and how He plans to do it. And I am not dismissing the gift of discernment that Holy Spirit gives. What I am talking about is our human nature to assume that we know even though the Lord declares, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.”

Our Example to Follow

We have plenty of examples about how not to handle someone communicating feeling called by God, and then there is Jesus. Jesus unquestionably calls the least qualified people to follow Him and deliver the Gospel. During that time a Rabi would have only allowed the brightest and most knowledgeable student to follow him. In fact, a Rabi would not be caught dead allowing a fisherman to follow after him, let alone twelve. Among those unqualified persons who Jesus selected were four fishermen, a tax collector, a revolutionary, a cynic, and a betrayer. Yet, Jesus still called them. Then Jesus did something unprecedented; He spent three years equipping them for the work of building His Kingdom. And that is what Jesus calls us to, helping to prepare others to fulfill the call God has given them. This is especially true if you call yourself a leader, or even a mature Christian.

Call it What You Want, Just Commit

You can call it whatever you want: coaching, mentoring, leadership development, it really doesn’t matter. I prefer to call it discipleship. There are people that God will give you who require you to invest time into them. If you are maturing in Christ and desire to see God’s Kingdom here on earth, you are obligated to invest that time. Discipleship is not a short-term endeavor. It took Jesus three years to prepare his disciples. During that time there was plenty of opportunity to toss them aside because “they just weren’t cut out for it”. But because they, and He, had a deep desire to seeing God’s “kingdom come and will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-13) they stay committed to the process. In the end, God qualified the called.

photo: STBM.org

The Continuous Call to Follow Jesus

follow

I was recently studying the passage of scripture about Jesus restoring Peter after his denial of Him (John 21:15-19). I was studying it for another post I was writing and discovered a couple things that warrant their own posts. One was in verse 19. It says, “He said this to signify by what kind of death he would glorify God. After saying this, He told him, ‘Follow Me!’”

Peter’s Backstory

To make the point, jogging our memory with a little back story refresher is necessary. We are first introduced to Peter in Matthew 4:18. That passage tells us that Peter and his brother, Andrew, were fishing when Jesus walks by them. Upon seeing them, Jesus tells them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At that invitation, Peter dropped his nets and followed Jesus for the next three years.

Those three years would reveal deep truths to Peter. He would learn what faith is and gaze upon the visible image of his invisible God. I can hardly imagine what it must have been like. His time with his savior would provide the conviction for Peter to say, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away” (Matthew 26:33). But Peter would fall away and fall away hard.

Peter’s Call… Again

While the other disciples fled and hid, Peter outright denied multiple assertions that he was with Jesus. After Jesus’ crucifixion, we can assume Peter did not see a way back to Jesus, because he returned to the life Jesus had called him out of. And then we see Jesus, likely on the same shore, with Peter performing the same task. After reinstating Peter, Jesus tells him, for the second time, “Follow Me!”

Jesus’ Call to Us

And, this is where Peter ends up; with Jesus offering the same call to him as He did three years prior. The good news is, He offers the same to us. No matter what you have done or how far you think you have fallen, He still says, “Follow me.” His is a call we get to answer every day. And as sure as darkness will come, His merciful call to follow Him, comes more.

photo: Flickr/Simon Matzinger
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