Do God’s People Today Know THE STORY?

Yesterday, I asked you to envision The River .  There is nothing new or profound in the use of “water” for describing the things of the Spirit or the Life that is ours in Christ in metaphorical terms.  And yet…even though we “get it” when we hear the story about Jesus and the woman at the well—of course, HE is the stream of Living Water—do we really get it?.

Like the widow of Zarephath the woman at the well was not “one of God’s people”.  She was a Samaritan, a “sinner”—an outcast even among the people of her own village.  She would not, otherwise, have come to the well in the heat of the day instead of coming with the other women who drew their water early in the morning.  Have you heard the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman (John 4) so many times in your life that the immense significance of the story escapes you?

Why, after 2000 years don’t more people who follow Christ look like Christ? Maybe one of the reasons is they’ve never been told the whole story … or they’ve heard the stories about the Story so many times the significance of THE STORY is lost. Jacob’s well was a very significant place—not just historically significant, and there’s really not room to go into that here—but spiritually significant, not only for “God’s people” in history, but also for us today.  We remember it as the place where Jesus offered the woman (and us) a stream of Living Water that would never run dry. But the significance is deeper and even more astonishing! We all have a “Jacob’s Well” in our lives, whether we realize it or not!

Jacob’s well, the place where, according to John (Chapter 4), Jesus—for the first time—looked an outcast sinner in the eye and said, ““I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” (John 4:26).  “I AM HE!”  In John’s Gospel, Jesus proclaimed Himself  “I AM” to a Samaritan woman! At some point in each of our lives, He drew us close to Him by the work of His Holy Spirit and said, “I Am He!”  And we believed! Whether through the spoken word of an evangelist sent to proclaim Him, or during a conversation with another believer, or in a time of seeking…He unveiled the Truth and we believed! Some of us were far worse sinners than that Samaritan woman. Still … the Word by whom all things were created revealed Himself, and we believed! Should we not gasp in awe and thanksgiving every single time we consider what He has done?

But we don’t. We don’t gasp in awe. And we don’t “look more like Christ.” The adage “familiarity breeds contempt” is taken far too lightly where the things of God are concerned! The blood-bought, redeemed people of God to whom He has come and revealed Himself have heard the stories about the Story until the Story is too “familiar” and  the significance of THE STORY lies hidden somewhere in a binder full of sermon notes or a few drops of highlighter ink on the pages of a Bible. Someone needs to stand up in the middle of a church service and shout, “Hey, Pastor, let’s keep the main thing the main thing here! We don’t need another story about the Story! Just give us THE STORY!” Even better idea: some of those called “pastor” need to sit down and let THE STORY tell Himself through all His people participating! Wouldn’t that be a novel idea? For us maybe, but not for the Church we see in Acts! Think of the awe-struck gasps we’d hear if we let Jesus show Himself as the true Head of His Church!

We’ve heard the stories about the Story so many times without tapping the Power of THE STORY.  In the not-too-distant past, a great wave of evangelism revived the story about “personal salvation” and we’ve responded to it since—sometimes by the thousands.  “Men of God” have stood elevated above the flocks and, with outstretched arms sweeping over the heads of the sheep, proclaimed, “Behold this great harvest of the ‘saved’!” But where have all the good shepherds gone—the ones who stand humbly among the flock and point to The Shepherd and say, “Listen to Him!”? 

The story has been told about the Story. But do God’s people today know THE STORY?  Oh we know the word…but if more people really knew The Word (a Person), I hazard there would be more people who look like Him! And because His people treat the familiar Story with contempt, they must be spoon-fed a “me-centered” and “personal” diet of baby food. They have to be entertained—some claim “edified”—by one “specially gifted shepherd” who can nail down three to five “sermon points” in twenty to thirty minutes. My friends, once you’ve heard the Story and believed, THE STORY comes to live in you!  THE STORY becomes your story! Like the woman at the well, you run to tell the whole village!

Vast multitudes have come into the harvest, but the harvest has not been rapidly multiplied. There is a harvest of “saved individuals” but they have not borne “fruit of like kind”! I’ll state my opinion about that simply. The supposed shepherds have been content with counting the number of individuals who “got saved”. They let the goal and the focus become “getting saved”. They’ve made the reason for “getting saved” a matter of “personal salvation”. And they have left out the part of the Story that has to do with the eternal plan and purpose of God! Jesus did not come into the world just to “save sinners”. He came to purchase, unto Himself, a people destined to inherit His Kingdom with Him!

I am convinced the desire of Christ is to build His own Church His way. He desires to build His people into a temple of living stones and make them His habitation. Yes, salvation is accompanied by the indwelling Holy Spirit at a personal and individual level. But the fullest expression of Christ in the earth—the Church—is His goal. Only when the Church is led by Christ Himself through the Holy Spirit—and by Christ alone—will we see His inheritance “look more like Him”.  And only when “the shepherds” who preach to His flock start telling the whole story, will we see people who can be built together as His Church until we do look more like Him.  I am also convinced we must not stop with an expectation of seeing individuals look like Christ, but that we should actively seek a manifestation of Christ, crucified and gloriously risen, through His body— “The Church-as-He-builds-it”. There is a secret, a “mystery” involved in this—and unfortunately, most “specially gifted shepherds” are failing to unveil it! (I’ll be writing about it in future posts.)

Someone is totally lost and wondering what in the world I mean, “Start telling THE STORY”, as if we haven’t heard the whole Story.  You’re thinking, I’ve told it—or I’ve heard it! Oh, really? I want to know when you last taught or heard this:

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me”.__Luke 9:23 NIV (emphasis added)

Oh? You’ve taught or heard that verse recently? Well, maybe we need to take a look at how the Amplified Bible expounds on that verse!

And He said to all, “If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [ disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [ cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also]”.__Luke 9:23 AB

Jesus did not come into the world merely to “save sinners”. He came so the sinners could follow His example—so the “old man” can die and we can be reborn into the Divine unending life, love and fellowship of the Trinity as sons and daughters of God.  (John 1: 12) We who “will to come after Him” share the inheritance of His Kingdom! Not “someday”, but NOW!  That part of THE STORY should indeed make us gasp in awe and thanksgiving every single time we consider what He has done!

So, to connect with the River metaphor from yesterday’s Journal: diving into the River is equivalent to “willing to come after Him” until we go to the extreme and die…lay down our own interests…forget ourselves…drown in Him. THE STORY and THE RIVER are Christ! And being in Christ is also Christ in us—molding us into His likeness as sons and daughters of God! If we are taking up the cross daily, we’ll be gasping a lot—not for air, but in awe—and we may even start to look more “like Him”!

_______________________________________________________

Next time we visit with “one another” I’ll be writing about the “temple of living stones” I mentioned above.

 

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Comments

  1. Great post. Very convicting. I particularly appreciate your focus on scriptures and your emphasis on the more challenging things that Christ said. Its this sort of writing that believers need to read to wake up from their comfortable faith. Great job!

  2. Excellent words Leah. Abandoning ourselves is our calling. In every example in Scripture of discipleship, the call is costly. Not just costly, it costs everything. Great explanation you gave from Luke 9. We fail to grasp Paul’s teaching from Romans 6, not only did Jesus carry our sin to the cross, He carried us there and the old dead man died on that cross with his Savior. If we have experienced the new birth, the only living, breathing, and active existence we have is in Christ. Praise Him for His indescribable gift! God bless.

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