“’And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.’ He said this to indicate how He was going to die.” (John 12:32-33 NLT)
Imagine, like Jesus, being the only one of your kind. Talk about being conspicuous! My second mission’s trip was to the beautiful country of Guatemala. We had our own small bus which had racks on the top for luggage, but some of us talked the driver into letting us sit on top of the bus as we drove the narrow mountain roads. The views were breathtaking.
And when we would stop in one of the small villages, we were the only white people some of them had ever seen. They wanted to look at us and touch our faces. The children wanted to hold our hands and walk with us. It was like we were magnets pulling the people of the village to our sides.
In my mind’s eye I imagine that’s how it was for Jesus. It was difficult for Him to find a place to be alone. His heart of love was like a magnet drawing lost, lonely, and hurting people to His side. Ideally, that’s what the Holy Spirit longs to do in and through us, not just individually, but collectively, as His Body, the Church.
Christianity, as a belief system, has become, and continues to be, the largest religion in the world, but the fastest growing religious group today is the “nothing in particulars.” Their essential “doctrine” is their own goodness. Do good things, don’t hurt anyone, be kind, and generous, and that should be good enough.
It’s ironic on some levels that the goodness of God, who, by the way, is the only One who is truly good, has gotten swallowed up by the “goodness” of those who see no need of God. It seems they’ve decided to lean solely on their own goodness to get them to the “heaven” of their own design.
Even within the Church, the lifestyle choices of those who “belong” to local bodies of believers, is often indistinguishable from those who have no allegiance to Jesus. Think of the thousands who chased after Jesus, who were enamored by His miracles and who wanted to be identified with His popularity yet were nowhere to be found when He was arrested and “wrongly” executed.
Obviously, that was God’s plan all along, illustrated by the verse above – to be “lifted up” on the Cross. But why? So that He might draw everyone to Himself. Why is that important for us to understand? Primarily so that we don’t mistake our popularity or attractiveness as what’s drawing people to Jesus. He doesn’t need us to be popular on His behalf, He desires us to faithfully live lives of purity and honor so that He can use us to point others to Him, not so people will “worship” us.
He wants us to believe in Him, placing our faith squarely and only in His completed work on Calvary on our behalf. To think that anything or anyone but Jesus is the “magnet” is to miss our call as His children. We’re never the ones being “raised up’ so that others can be drawn to us. We’re only instruments who are filled and empowered by Him to be useful in pointing others to Him.
Ron Hutchcraft said: “Your eternity will not be decided by what you do with Christianity. It will be decided by what you do with Christ.”
We can belong to a Christian church or group of believers, as we should, but belonging isn’t what saves us. Only belief in Christ alone, by faith alone, which activates and enables us to bear the fruit of Christlikeness, is the pathway to true salvation. Our goodness is simply an evidence of His holy presence living in and through us, revealing Him as the magnet to those who desperately need Him, not ourselves.
Thank you, believer in Jesus, for faithfully and selflessly pointing those in your spheres of influence to Him, proving to all that you’re a believer, not simply a belonger.
Blessings, Ed 😊
One thought on “Believer or Belonger?”
Such impactful sharing to affirm, challenge or convict us, and articulated in such a beautiful, Ed! PRAISE GOD for His using your vessel in such a way!