I’ve noticed that people are easily unsettled. We are concerned, bothered, offended, and disturbed by the people around us. The statements and comments made by coworkers, fellow church members, neighbors, and instagram followers pierce our hearts and weigh heavy on our minds.
Clearly we have not lost the capacity to care deeply about, and become unsettled by, what people say. Which makes me wonder if we are even 1/2-heartedly listening to Jesus? Do we actually care about what Jesus says? If so, will we not invariably find ourselves regularly disturbed by Him?
For example, ponder this statement, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” – Jesus of Nazareth. How is it possible to sincerely read such a statement without feeling seriously unsettled? This declaration is certainly meant to bring you to your knees, and yet you yawn in the face of such a declaration as if it’s no big deal. Meanwhile, a coworker shares a snippet of his opinion with you about something you take issue with and it consumes your thoughts for weeks!?
How are you not deeply disturbed by statements like:
“Do not resist the one who is evil. If he slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.”
“Do not take an oath at all …simply say ‘Yes’ or “No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” (Is Jesus seriously suggesting that we see ourselves as so essentially unreliable and untrustworthy that we need to thoroughly examine our use of the expression, “I promise”!?).
“Everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has ALREADY COMMITTED ADULTERY with her in his heart.”
Do we allow ourselves to be disturbed by Jesus? Or do we shrug off His words as hyperbole so that we can get back to being bothered by all the stuff everyone else is saying?
Perhaps you think that it would be disrespectful to admit that you’re disturbed by the things Jesus says. But let’s be clear, what is disrespectful is to pretend to agree with Jesus in order to avoid having honest dialogue with Him. What is disrespectful is our nonchalant attitude toward His deliberately crafted statements of offense. What is disrespectful is our two-bit attempt at blocking His agenda to rid us of our self-reliance, and compel us into a posture of genuine dependence upon Him alone.
The best thing about you is your appetite for Jesus. God provides you with painful discipline and disturbance in order to develop in you a indelible craving for Jesus.
God unleashes statements, and ordains circumstances, which force your soul to pant for Him. Your most ardent question becomes, “When shall I come and appear before God!?” Your food is your tears, day and night (blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you…). You pour out your soul to God, longing to lead the procession to the house of God (like David leaping and dancing before the LORD!) with glad shouts and songs of praise, joined by a multitude keeping festival! But now, you address your soul, “Why are you down, O my soul? Why are you disturbed within me? Has not The Maker ordained these weighty wrestlings in order to prove that He meant it when He said His power is perfected in weakness. These inward trials He employs to set us free from self and pride. He breaks our schemes of temporal ‘joy’ that we may seek joy all in Him.”
“Lord why is this, I trembling cried… I hoped that in some favored hour, at once You’d answer my request, that I might grow in faith and love and every grace, and that I might know more of Your salvation and seek more earnestly Your face; and by Your love’s constraining power You would subdue my sins and give me rest. Instead of this You made me feel the hidden evils of my heart and let the angry powers of Hell assault my soul in every part. Yea more with Your own hand You seemed intent to aggravate my woe; You crossed all the fair designs I schemed, You cast out my feelings and laid me low. I asked, “Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death?” “Tis in this way” You replied “I answer prayer for grace and faith.”