When you think of Jesus, does your mental picture look like this? Do you picture Jesus as a meek, mild, good shephard who gently knocks at the door of your heart asking if you would let Him in?
Or do you picture him like this--the One who kicks down the door to your heart, ripping out your heart of stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh and giving you His Spirit as Ezekiel 36:26-27 describes it. That was the question presented during a recent sermon. The sermon centered around Ephesians 2:1-10, which starts out saying that we are dead--not mostly dead, not almost dead, but completely, totally, undeniably dead in our sins. Since Jesus knows we are dead, would he politely knock on the door and actually expect a dead person to be able to answer it? C. S. Lewis, in his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, basically claims that he was dragged, kicking and screaming into faith. I don't think Paul, the only apostle who saw the Resurrected Jesus after he had returned to heaven, was a willing follower either, considering that he was on his way to Damascus with the sole intent of persecuting all followers of Jesus Christ. By the way, Paul was the one who wrote the book of Ephesians, for those of you who don't know.
The discussion, both in our small group and in the sermons has been focusing a lot on a big word--predistination. It is a concept that is distasteful to a lot of people, because it states that God chooses who will follow Him and we don't have much of a say in the matter. It digs against our concept of free will. It has definitely challenged my picture of God and Jesus. I knew Jesus wasn't necessarily meek and mild because he was definitely in the face of the Pharisees and challenging them. My favorite dialogue is found in John 8:31-58, which I nickname, the "Whose Your Daddy?" argument. I also believe that God is sovereign, which means He rules over the earth and everything in it. However, I guess I confess that my view of God, based on how I act sometimes, is that he is mostly sovereign, not totally sovereign, as the Bible says in many, so many places it would be difficult to come up with a limited list. The real head banger question is how He allows free will and yet remain sovereign. To me, those two things seem to be mutually exclusive, and yet, if God can create everything we see out of nothing and make it so incredibly complicated that the most brilliant scientists are still confused, if He can somehow be one God in three persons without contradictions, then he can make opposites work in harmony. I think that is where faith really comes in. And I think God wants me to take my faith and "kick it up a notch".
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.