“You pore over the Scriptures because you presume that by them you possess eternal life. These are the very words that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life.” (John 5:29)
This red letter passage paints a picture of people who are very diligent in their efforts to live righteously. I see them approaching scriptural reading like they’re doing a doctoral study, devoting much time, memorizing large swatches of it, pondering and debating, seeking to learn.
Yet when Jesus comes, they miss him. It’s so crazy. It’s like when you’re looking for something all over the house,and someone says, “There it is, right there,” and you barely look, and insist, “Naw, that’s not it,” and keep searching.
It’s stupefying that the Jews couldn’t see the very thing they were looking for. How did this happen? Jesus gave this answer, “How can you believe if you accept glory from one another, yet do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?”
The Jews wanted the wrong kind of glory. They wanted to look good, and feel good about themselves. And this blinded them, because their eyes were on one another and themselves, instead of God.
How can we avoid the same mistake? How do we seek the glory that comes from God? I love this verse in Romans, “A man is a Jew because he is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise does not come from men, but from God.” (Romans 2:29)
We seek the right kind of glory when we make the daily decision to circumcise our hearts to God. We don’t try to figure out how we can straddle the world and our faith. We completely devote ourselves to him.
How can we tell if we’re seeking glory from men or from God? By looking at our inner fuel tank. Self glorification depletes us. It never works for long. We have to keep finding ways to give ourselves props. We get tired, discouraged and burned out.
I see this when I look at myself. I journaled what I was feeling at the beginning of this week: “Why try? It’s going to fail. It’s useless.”
I’m haven’t been completely down. I just have this sense of gloom and doom that manifests from time to time. It’s kind of like the hitchhiking ghosts at the Haunted Mansion in Disneyworld. You’re going along, and all of a sudden you see there’s a ghoul riding with you. And it’s not endearing like the picture below!
But I think one reason I’m gloomy and depleted is because I’m trying to get everything to measure up to my own expectations. And then it’s about me. I’m just like the Jews. I’m having these great devotional times every day. But I’m missing it.
I’m wrestling with life, instead of finding the life that’s in Jesus.
You know, when we’re completely devoted to God, we have the mindset of a doting servant. It makes our hearts happy to give ourselves to him in service, because he is everything. It’s not about us, and our efforts.
It’s about his glory.
It’s so crazy. We miss the jaw-dropping splendor of God, because we’re too busy trying to put our own sparkle on.
Our job is to put God’s sparkle on. Period. The only way we are to shine is as God’s creation, and as Christ shines through us.
And I have one more thing to say about having a heart that’s devoted to God. The literal translation of the word, “inwardly” in Romans 2:29 is “secretly.” We’re to be devoted to God in a hidden way, not in a way to be seen by others. It’s a special intimacy, just between God and us.
That’s not that we’re to keep our mouth closed about our faith. The Bible is clear that we must speak out the truth, and be bold.
But it has to start with something that feels like a private worship closet experience, free from distractions and temptations, so we can SEE Jesus better.
We find Jesus when we take our eyes off of ourselves.
Here’s my prayer for today: Father, I am your servant. I go to the hidden place and worship, where it’s just me bowing at your feet. I take off every bit of the crown I’ve been creating for myself. Instead, I want my actions to polish your beautiful crown. Let all my joy be in loving you and serving you. Let me hear Christ’s voice, and not the other loud insistant voices. Let me find the power of the resurrection life that can transform the impossible situations. Let me have hope, instead of gloom and doom. Thank you for every way you have blessed me, guided me, and taught me all through my life. In Jesus name, Amen.