when the truth is offensive…
That’s what some theologians call the gospel of John… the most offensive gospel of the four.
Now, after studying the first 9 chapters, I understand why. Most religious people don’t react well to being told they aren’t really followers of Christ. And Jesus does this in the book of John repeatedly. It’s not what they want to hear.
You don’t know me and you don’t know my father.
Over and over Jesus tells the “chosen” people they don’t know God; that they aren’t children of Abraham but they are children of satan, and that they will die before they realize their mistake. Here’s the thing: it was all truth. But to the spiritually dead crowd of followers, his words sounded downright offensive.
The people took immense pride in their spiritual heritage; it gave them a feeling of superiority. They were the “chosen” people. They knew the law, obeyed the law, and enacted judgement on the law. However, their pride made them so blind, they couldn’t see Jesus. They had religion but they didn’t know God. They wanted a savior of miracles and power, not the humble man of sorrows. They rejected the truth of who he really was.
Jesus saw right through them and spoke it plainly.
You don’t know me and you don’t know my father.
Kind of a sobering thought… how many religious people today claim to be Christians but don’t really know Jesus? How many think they are among the chosen, but aren’t?
How does a person know?
In chapter 8, Jesus makes a pretty divisive statement to the crowd who claims to believe in him. He draws a clear line about who is his follower and who isn’t. It’s black and white. He says, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.” Another version says, “If you abide in my word, you really are my disciples.”
Abide in his word. That’s how to know if you are truly his disciple.
In the Word.
Delight in it. Read it. Honor it. Treasure it. Respect it. Humble yourself under it. Learn from it. Spend time in it. Be changed by it. Be filled by it. Know Jesus from it. Get freed by it. Be empowered by it.
Don’t just read it a little and think you know enough. Don’t let someone else read it for you. Don’t just put it on your nightstand and let it sit there. Persevere. Endure. Submerse. Keep on reading. Don’t give up. Open it up daily and treat it like your most precious possession. Do the work. Don’t cheat the grind. Soak in it. Bask in it. Hold tightly to what it says. OBEY it.
Truly a disciple.
There are those who think that they are followers of Jesus, but aren’t because NOT ALL ARE TRUE DISCIPLES. The gospel of John does an amazing job of painting a picture of the real Jesus; the glorious, loving, sacrificing, suffering, patient, enduring, All-powerful, All-knowing Jesus. It was written so that we may see him for all that he is, and by seeing: BELIEVE. John 20:31 says that the gospel of John is written so that we may believe Jesus is the Messiah, and by believing have eternal life. The Word is written so that those who aren’t truly disciples, can read and see and become disciples. It’s written so that those who don’t know him at all can read and see and believe. It’s written so that those who are true disciples will be empowered to stay strong.
Abide in his Word.
A simple answer for a BIG question.
At the risk of sounding offensive, let me ask you this:
What is your relationship with the Word of God?
Do you read it?
Do you abide there?
Are you a true disciple?
Or are you like the crowd, falsely believing you have faith?
I have been honest with you that for most of my Christian life, I wasn’t a real disciple. I was a fake Christian – I said all the right things and looked on the outside like I was a follower, but I wasn’t a true disciple on the inside. I wasn’t sold out. Radical. I didn’t read the word. Ever. I was self-sufficient. Proud. Full of my own worldly desires. And eventually, I couldn’t hide the truth about the condition of my heart.
That’s why I ask you. That’s why I care so much. That’s why I encourage you to be in the Word all the time…every blog. Because I know what happens when you don’t read it. And I would do anything to prevent my friends and family from making the same mistake I did.
The Word alone has the power to change us. It is THE main way we know Christ; the one who illuminates the dark, frees us from the power of sin, and satisfies our every need. If we are going to be transformed, we have to be in the Word. There is no shortcut.
Let me encourage you… BEGIN TODAY. Just do it. Start now. Open up your bible and begin to invest in the one thing Jesus said will make you truly his.
In case you missed my instagram post a couple weeks ago, here are 5 tips to get you started:
- I read a Psalm, a Proverb, and a chapter of the New Testament every day. Last year I did a chapter of the OT everyday, but I finished it and have started on the NT. Here’s why: the Psalms are good for my soul and help me understand the magnificence of God, Proverbs give wisdom for daily living, and the New Testament shows the Glory of God manifested in Christ and helps me understand how I am to live in response to his love. Some of my fav NT books are James, 1 & 2 Timothy, 1 & 2 Peter, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, and and 1 John if you need a place to start.
- Pray before you read. This sounds so simple but it’s effective. Praying for the Holy Spirit to help you understand and be transformed by what you read is KEY.
- Check your translation. There are many translations of the bible and some of them are easier to read than others. A LOT EASIER. If you have get stuck, I recommend a version like the New Living Translation to get you going (NLT).
- Study it. Take notes, underline passages that speak to you, read commentaries and look up things you don’t understand. Treat it like a textbook and keep a notebook handy too. Look for themes running through the specific book, promises from God, and attributes of God. These three things help you begin to understand the AMAZING God we serve, and when you understand how awesome he is, your faith grows.
- Do it first. I made a rule to help me keep the Word a priority: devos before anything else. No social media, no workout, and no tv or radio before I spend time with God. I make it a priority so that if I run short on time in the day, it’s not my bible time that suffers.
Ok. That’s a start. JUST DO IT. God will meet you there. I’m hearing so many stories of lives being radically changed because people were faithful to get in the Word. Be one of them! Let’s do this faith journey together. Comment below or email me – I love hearing from you.
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