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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Why Men Reject Christ

When I first started doing the outline for the following teaching, I did not imagine it would be as heart wrenching as it turned out to be. At certain times in my studies, I even contemplated scrapping the entire teaching, telling myself that I had bitten off more than I could chew. I pressed on however, because I believe today’s teaching is an important one, especially given the spiritual climate of our present age.

Today, we will attempt to answer a question that has been on the minds and hearts of many believers, but rarely verbalized.

The question is this: Why do men reject Christ?

I realize this is not a comfortable topic, and it’s not supposed to be, but we can’t just bury our heads in the sand and deny that it is happening just because we’d rather not talk about it than actually confront it. The tragic truth is that even today men are rejecting Jesus, and men are forsaking Him, just as readily as they did two thousand years ago. This does not promise to be a lighthearted teaching, but it is a necessary teaching.

John 6:60-68, “Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, ‘this is a hard saying; who can understand it?’ When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured about this, He said to them, ‘does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, ‘Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.’
From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?’ Then Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

There are two things that disturb me each time I read, or teach out of this passage of scripture. The first, is the fact that those who rejected the words of Christ, rejected both the spirit, and the life, meaning that they remained dead in their sins and trespasses, and the second thing is that those who rejected Jesus, who went balk and walked with Him no more, were not few, but rather many in number. In fact the word infers that only the twelve remained.

To understand the gravity of these people’s rejection, we must get a glimpse of the timeline of when this event took place. It was shortly after Jesus took five loaves and two fish, and fed five thousand men with them. Since we know that by Jewish custom it was only adult males who were counted and accounted for, when we include women and children the number could have been allot higher than five thousand. These people had seen Jesus bless five barley loaves, and two small fish, then proceed to feed the entire crowd that had gathered there. It was also within the context of this passage that we see Jesus standing amidst the people, giving thanks, His disciples going away in boats, and Jesus appearing in Capernaum, on the other side of the sea, without having ever gotten into a boat.

When the crowd saw that Jesus was no longer among them, they too got into their boats, and came to Capernaum. Once they arrived, their one question was ‘Rabbi when did You come here?’

The answer Jesus gave them should humble every heart that seeks after Christ for the wrong motives. I know that this will hit close to home for some, but it is the truth of God’s word, and not my own words, that I am declaring to you today.

John 6:26, “Then Jesus answered them and said, ‘Most assuredly I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.”

At this point I could picture Jesus shaking His head in dismay. What He spoke to these men that had sailed across the sea in their boats, was nothing less than a severe rebuke. They sought Him not because they believed He was the Son of God, not because they had seen the power with which He had been endowed, but because their bellies were full. There are many people today who serve God with ulterior motives in their hearts. There are many people today who serve God just because they get to eat loaves and fish, and have their bellies full. It is not because love compelled them to fall at the foot of the cross in repentance it is because they believe they can get something out of coming to church every once in awhile. If the reason we serve Jesus is anything less than true worship, if the reason we serve Jesus is not anchored in spirit and in truth, then when the loaves stop appearing, and when trials begin to descend upon us, we will walk with Him no more, just as the many who rejected Him.

Search your heart today, look into the mirror of God’s word, and be certain that you are serving Him because of who He is and what He has already done for you, and not for what you hope He might do for you.

I’ve talked to enough people throughout my twenty two years of ministry to have heard some real interesting answers to the question, “Why are you a Christian, and why do you worship Jesus?”

Since time does not permit me to go into detail I will just give you what I believe are the top three most interesting or foolish answers I’ve received to that question. These answers took me by surprise, and even shocked me to such an extent that I even remember the time and place I heard them.

The third most interesting or foolish answer I heard when I asked why someone was a Christian, and why they worshiped Jesus, came from a young lady in Pensacola Florida. Her answer was, ‘because I want to find a good husband!’ Now in and of itself there is nothing wrong with this desire, but when you feign serving God just so that He would make this desire come to pass in your life, it’s time to search your heart and really see where you are in your relationship with Jesus.

The second most interesting or foolish answer came via another young lady in Mission Viejo California, and her answer was, ‘because I want to be successful in my music career.’

And the number one, all time most interesting or foolish answer to the question why someone was a Christian, came from a middle aged man in Colorado Springs Colorado, who with a straight face, said, that he became a Christian so that he could win the lottery.

God sees your motive, and your motivation. He sees the intent of your heart, just as readily as Jesus saw the hearts of those who had tracked Him down in Capernaum. If our heart’s desire is only to be served by Him, but not to serve Him, then we do not really know Him, nor have we surrendered our hearts to Him.

So why do people reject Jesus? Why did most of His disciples go away and walk with Him no more and why do some continue to do it to this day? The first reason people reject Christ is because His teachings are radical. What Jesus was saying was so new, and it surpassed what they were able to understand with their human intellect and reason. Here He stood before them, and told them He was the bread of life, and if anyone ate of that bread they would live forever. They couldn’t process what Jesus was speaking to them, because they had no spiritual eyes to see the truth of His affirmation.

God’s Word is radical! God’s teachings are radical! The Word of God is not intended to please everyone, but it is intended to challenge the sinner to repentance, to compel the wayward to return to Him. This faith in Christ, this path that we follow is not a religion of circumstance, wherein as long as we are doing well then we will serve Him, but as soon as the clouds begin gathering on the horizon we disavow ourselves of Him.

Jesus is not a go along to get along Lord, and it is time some of us understood this truth. Remember the parable of the marriage feast? Remember when the king came in to see his guests and he saw a man there that had no wedding garment? What did the king do? Did he look upon the man and say it’s alright you can stay? Did he look upon the man and say maybe you should go change? Did he offer the man one more chance to go put on his wedding garment?

Matthew 22:13, “Then the king said to the servants, bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The man had already been given a second chance when the King sent his servants into the highways and byways, inviting as many as they could find to the wedding. There were no more chances for him, and the king ordered that be bound and cast into the outer darkness. It is well to speak of the goodness of God, but we must be ever mindful of the justice and righteousness of God as well.

Human reason and our own wicked pride so often reject the message of the cross. We think ourselves too wise, we think ourselves too advanced, we think ourselves too civilized and progressive to humble ourselves and seek His grace and mercy. Before we get full of ourselves, before we consider ourselves the pinnacle of human intellect, I would encourage you to find some writings from two thousand years ago, from eighteen hundred years ago, of great men of the faith that came before us, and see the wisdom that flowed through their quills. For some reason we have a stunted view of those who came before us, and are surprised to learn, that those in Jesus’ day, who were the Pharisees and Sadducees of the time actually had the first five books of the Bible memorized. Can you say that about yourself? I know I can’t say it about myself.

As pride rejected the message of the cross two thousand years ago, it rejects the message of the cross today.

So why is the message of the cross so radical? Why is it that so many reject it?

Because of the compulsory requirements that must be met when we humble ourselves at the cross of Christ.

First, the cross of Christ demands a total renunciation of self. It presupposes that we surrender our all to Him. Our intellect, our pride, our wisdom, our flesh, our hearts, everything must be laid upon the altar.

Second of all, the cross of Christ demands unconditional service. Jesus never promised that if we followed Him He would make us all senators; Jesus didn’t promise that if we followed Him he would make us all millionaires, Jesus simply said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light.” There was no job description, Jesus never specified whether you or I would be management or labor, there was no discussion of a compensatory package, it was simply a command, to take His yoke, and learn from Him. Jesus never modified the message of His teaching to suit the hearer. He didn’t have one gospel for the rich and one for the poor, one gospel for the wise men and one for the less intelligent. He spoke the same message of repentance and of being born again to one as Nicodemus who came to Him by night, as well as the woman at the well who was in sin.

Men also turn away from Jesus, reject Him, and walk with Him no more due to fear of other men. We can’t identify with Jesus too much, because we’re embarrassed of others. We can’t talk about Jesus too often, because the neighbors might get the wrong idea about us, or the people at work might mock us, or our family might disown us. So we’ll be chameleon Christians, we’ll blend in, we’ll yell the ‘hallelujah’ when everyone else is doing it, or be as quiet as a church mouse when everyone around us is mocking Jesus and blaspheming His name.

Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.”

We are so afraid of what others might think that many of us would rather keep silent and watch people marching toward destruction, than tell them about the love and grace of Christ. Yes, the fear of man brings a snare, it keeps you from being a light to those who are in the darkness, it keeps you from proclaiming Jesus and testifying of all that He has done for you and in you.

Too many Christians today prefer to come to Jesus, but only like Nicodemus at night when no one can see them. Too many Christians today act as though they are ashamed of Jesus. When I was younger, I would read this one verse in the gospel according to Mark, and wonder how it could ever be? How could someone be ashamed of Christ? Why would Jesus see it as such an issue that he would take the time to comment on it? The scripture I am referring to is found in:

Mark 8:38, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

I believe that’s pretty much self explanatory. I don’t need to comment on it, they are the words of Jesus, and stand as warning to all believers, especially in this generation which is as He described, adulterous and sinful. What a tragic thing, that creation is ashamed of its creator. What a tragic thing that we minimize the sovereignty and divinity of Jesus to such an extent that we consider other men’s opinions more important than His. We try to be relevant, cutting edge, impacting, and all the other buzz words you hear verbalized in Christian circles today, but what about just being Christians? Why don’t we start by not being ashamed of Jesus? Why don’t we start by declaring and proclaiming that Jesus is Lord? You can be cutting edge and relevant and still be leading people to destruction if you don’t preach Jesus.

We’ve been duped into believing that in order to get the world to respect us, we must become more like the world; We’ve been duped into believing that in order to get people to come to Jesus, we must make Jesus less controversial; We’ve been duped into believing that in order to reach the lost we must act, and speak like the lost. Show me that compromise has led to true converts, show me that these tactics we are employing were employed by the primary church, and I will be silent.

“But we have to change with the times brother Mike, you just don’t get it.”

Believe me, I get it, I get it all too clearly. The only problem with the theory of changing with the times is that we serve a God who changes not. We serve a God who is the same yesterday today and forever, and whose children have access to the same power and authority as those of the first century church did. The reason we are not reaching the lost, is because there is no power in our churches any more. The reason people aren’t encountering Christ, is because we’ve watered down the gospel to the point that it is unrecognizable. I realize I’m not endearing anyone to this ministry by saying these things, but somebody has to preach the truth, somebody has to stand up and say, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes”, as Paul did so long ago.

Call me a fool if you must! I will gladly bear the title. Yes, I am a fool for Christ.

Why are we so faint hearted? Why have we grown so lukewarm? Why have we become so apathetic and indifferent? Why are we unwilling to take a stand for truth anymore? What is holding us back? Is it shame? Is it indifference? Is it apathy? Whatever it is that has caused this lethargy in the house of God must be found and summarily removed. We must repent, we must draw nearer to God, and we must once more walk in confidence, and assurance, proclaiming Jesus with boldness and passion.

Yet another reason why men abandon or reject Christ is because they do not posses abiding faith, and so give in to doubt when difficulties arise. It’s not sin to ask questions. It is however sin to doubt God’s intentions.

If you’ve ever read the book of Job, you know all that he went through. Here he was having buried his ten children, having lost all his material possessions, sitting on a dung heap, his flesh caked with worms and dust, his wife encouraging him to curse God and die, having come to the point of loathing his life. In his darkest hour, in his moment of agony, Job poured out his heart, and cried out to God, hoping to receive some understanding as to why God had allowed all these things in his life.

Job 7:20, “Have I sinned? What have I done to You, O watcher of men? Why have You set me as Your target, so that I am a burden to myself?”

It was this selfsame Job however, who having poured out his heart, retained his faith in God, who continued to trust the providence of God, and who continued to serve and worship God.

One of the most beautiful scripture passages in the entire Bible to me, especially when I am going through trials, is something Job said after begging God to speak to him.

Job 13:15, “Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him.”

Cling to Jesus in your trials, cling to Jesus in your hardship, cling to Jesus in your sadness, cling to Jesus in your tears, because He is worthy of your trust and your devotion. May you posses that abiding faith that sees beyond the valley; that faith that sees beyond the trial into the land of victory. Remain anchored in the Lord, cling to Him, and you will see His hand in your life, even in the midst of your trials.

The last reason that people abandon or otherwise reject Christ, and perhaps the most painful to see given all that it entails, is love for the world. One of the most noteworthy examples of this that we find in the Word is a man named Demas, whom Paul referred to as having forsaken him having loved this present world.

Demas was a trusted member of Paul’s ministry team, and Paul even mentions him twice both in Philemon and in Colossians, both positively, but then about five years later, something happens, and Demas, the once trusted laborer, the man who most likely preached sermons, and led people to Christ, was overtaken by the love of this present world and forsook Paul.

The question that we must ask ourselves as individuals is do we love this present world, or do we love the world to come. We cannot serve two masters, and one must have preeminence, so no man can say they love this world and the one to come equally.

It is wisdom itself that compels us to surrender the fleeting and passing things of this life, in order to obtain the lasting and eternal things of the life to come. There is no way around it dear friend, the friendship of the world, and love for the world is enmity with God. Eternity beckons with each breath we take, may we be found ready to stand before the God of all creation, and may we hear those blessed words, ‘well done good and faithful servant!’

With Love in Christ,
 
Michael Boldea Jr.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Micheal,

I am always thankful to read your strong words of encouragement. I, too, love the verse "Though he slay me, yet will I trust Him." It keeps me focused during the difficult trials, afflictions, and poison arrows of the evil one. Keep walking the strait and narrow and helping the rest of us along the way. Hopefully, we are all leading others to Him. Nothing else matters.

Sincerely,
Linda B.

Richard said...

Love the message as always, true and strong.

God Bless, Richard Heinl.