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Tuesday (plus one) Thoughts 2-15-17

I think there are two kinds of people in the world: the kind that follow instructions, and the kind that make up their own.  Just from reading this you are probably already reviewing arguments that would support whichever position you take.  But in the arena of the Kingdom of God we all become the people who want to follow instructions.  Now before you free-spirit types try to back out of this characterization, just think of the last time you said or thought (or cried out) how nice it would be to see a billboard or receive a letter/phone call from the Creator saying, “Do this thing right here.”  It may have been just this morning, right?  I know I have often thought how much better a follower I could be if I had an instruction list.  This leads me to the contrast of my morning Bible reading.  The Old Testament passage came from chapter forty of the book of Exodus where Moses had relayed to the people very detailed instructions from God about how to build a place of worship, furnish it and even how to worship through sacrifices, offerings, feasts and festivals.  Talk about a billboard.  They got ALL the details (and the radiant, visible presence of God to boot!)!  The New Testament reading was in the book of Mark, chapter one.  Read how Jesus began His ministry: As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.”   Mark 1:16-18 (NIV).  Wow!  In one place there was so much detail and in the other, none.  Now don’t forget your desire for more clarity when in the crunch as I ask you this next question.  Who followed more successfully, those with all that detail, or those responded to a call to, “follow me.”?  For those of you who don’t know, it’s the people who followed Jesus.  Please don’t read this wrong.  All those details given in Exodus were intended to form followers (the call to follow is a constant), and true following did happen in the Old Testament.  But something else happened as well, the instructions became what was followed (worshiped) instead of the One to whom all those details pointed.  So we see the story of the Jews full of times when all the steps were completed but the heart of God was completely missed.  But wait, we also see evidence of this same dynamic in the time of Jesus (and today).  So what gives?  It’s really simple.  Whenever we think following boils down to a list of things to cross off (we want what’s easiest), we miss the following.  The call from Jesus to, “follow me”, is a full time, 24/7 (well, not when you’re sleeping) call.  There is no time or place that it’s okay for the people whose sins have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus to stop asking, “What would Jesus do?” But if you’re an instruction-keeper, as soon as every step has been completed, you’re on your own.  Are you a follower or an instruction keeper?  Be honest, even followers slip into the list sometimes.  The remedy is also simple.  Confess it to God and then…follow.     – Pastor John

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