If you have ever read a book, essay, short story, or historical article about another time or place, you have experienced authors’ ability to transport us to that venue, and if successful, draw you in as if they were speaking directly to you. I find it fascinating that the written word has that ability to transcend time and distance and allow us to enter the mind of the author, and see through the eyes of an observer that may be dead for decades, centuries, and perhaps thousands of years – Plato, Socrates, Josephus, Jefferson, Lincoln Churchill, and the rest of our earthly teachers.
No piece of literature does this as well as the Bible. (Of course.) The very earliest of inspired stories of this collection of books dates back about 5000 years. And still it speaks to us as if written yesterday. If you accept this as the true word of God speaking through and to His followers, then you need to also accept that He is still speaking to you – today – right now. His message of love and its long history of our salvation were meant to be read and heard by not only those first inspired so long ago, but equally for the benefit of you and me today.
My entire attitude towards the Bible changed the moment that I accepted this phenomenon. Now each time I read or hear scripture I do so with the knowledge that the Lord, Creator of the universe, penned the words specifically and directly for my benefit. Try it if you haven’t done so already. Pretend that you are the second person in a two-person dialogue, and that God is speaking directly to you. It will immediately open your eyes to God’s intentions for you, his loving child, and your path will become so much clearer. Now, the potential downside, depending how you take it, is that you also lose the ability to ignore the word when it may not be convenient or comfortable for you. One of the many messages in the New Testament that may not be the easiest to hear and apply in our lives is probably the one that will make the greatest difference in not only your life, but in those around you, and probably some that you don’t even know. It is the last thing that Jesus told his disciples before ascending to heaven:
So Jesus came to them and said, “All authority (power) in heaven and on earth is given to me. So go and make disciples of all people in the world. Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach those people to obey everything that I have told you. You can be sure that I will be with you always. I will continue with you until the end of the world.” Matt 28:18-20
We usually begin to opt out of scripture, and to act as spectators, when we hear, ‘Jesus said to his disciples…’. We think, ‘Oh, He’s talking to them. I can tune out.’ No, not really. If you call yourself a Christian, you are a follower of Jesus Christ and therefore one of His disciples. Now go back and read this passage and the rest of the New Testament, and read it as if each and every time Jesus is speaking to his disciples at the time, he is speaking to you, now. Right now, in your bedroom, or living room or where ever you are reading or listening – you and Jesus having a one on one. Replace the term, ‘So Jesus said to them’ with, ‘So Jesus said to (your name here)’. Cool, huh? All the blessings, all the wisdom, all the comfort and peace Jesus brings, He brings directly for (your name here). He also brings the commitment and power and responsibility of discipleship and lays it at the feet of (your name here). Now that maybe more humbling than cool, but still all meant specifically for (your name here).
So think about it a bit before you decide to opt out. There are about 2 billion professed Christians in the world today. If we all performed our role as true Disciples of Christ in this world for even a day, what kind of impact would that have? The result: the good news of the Gospel in each and every ear, a Christ-like world. We have the numbers and the story to make that happen. We also have the promise, ‘You can be sure that I will be with you always.’
Start by taking small steps. This Christian mission statement came to me a while ago and I think it is a good way to start: “As Christians all we can do is to live our lives as Jesus would, and pray someone else notices just enough to do the same.” Do it, because it is you (and me!) who is being spoken to.