Never the Same

I once heard a pastor say that you can not have an encounter with Jesus and remain unaffected. roses1

You can not come face to face with the crucified, risen-from-the-dead Son of God and then go on about your business as usual.  You can no longer view the injustices around you and write them off as the result of living in a fallen world.  You can not admire the sacrificial lives of others without realizing that you are called to live the same way.

I read the book, Crazy Love and it ruined me. It ruined me for the status quo. It ruined me for a life of playing it safe.  Francis Chan makes this statement early in the book.

“It’s crazy that we think today is just a normal day to do whatever we want with.”

He is referring to the fact that our lives are just vapors.  We are not promised tomorrow, yet we live as if we have all the time in the world promised to us.  People are starving. Hurting. Lonely.  Lost.  And we have the answer.  Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians…

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels…  – 2 Corinthians 4:7

The treasure Paul is referring to is the gospel – the knowledge of Christ – the good news of God’s love for us.  We have this treasure that is meant to be shared.  Yet, we hold it inside our earthen vessels and assume we will have other opportunities.

An encounter with Christ means change.

Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.”  And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.   – Mark 10:52

Jesus granted Bartimaeus’ request.  He healed him.  And then He gave him permission to go his way back to his life. He was allowed to go back to whatever it was he thought he would always do if only he could see.  The only problem?  Bartimaeus had just had an encounter with Christ.  There was no going back.  To go his way was no longer an option.

Bartimaeus was ruined for anything other than a life of following Jesus.  He now had the gift, the responsibility, the overwhelming honor of carrying the treasure in an earthen vessel.

In the preface to Crazy Love, Francis Chan makes this statement…But you will have a choice: to adjust how you live daily or to stay the same.  Now, he is referring to the choice you will have to make after reading his book.  But, this is a choice you have to make when you encounter God – when you come face-to-face with who He is and what He has done – actually, there is no choice.

You can not stay the same.

Not because it will be easy.

Not because it will be financially rewarding.

Not because people will admire you or even like you.

But because you are ruined for anything less than Him.

Lessons from a man once blind…

Bartimaeus is one of my favorite people in the Bible.  I love the passage in Mark that speaks of him (Mark 10:46-52.)  You should read it now. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Pretty good stuff, huh? There are several life lessons that can be taken from these few verses.  

Life Lesson #1:    Now is the time…

Now they came to Jericho.  As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging.  – Mark 10:46

Bartimaeus was defined by his blindness.  No one saw anything else when they looked at him.  Truth be told, most people didn’t even look at him.

It must have been a bit crazy that day. Can you imagine the noise, the talking, and the shuffling of feet?  After all, a multitude of people were following Jesus’ every move through the city. But, for  Bartimaeus, it was business as usual. Until…

When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  – Mark 10:47

Bartimaeus had surely heard the stories of this man called Jesus. He must have listened and wondered. He was just desperate enough to believe the stories may be true.

Surely, among a group so large, there were others in need of healing.  There must have been individuals who were suffering from illnesses or who had sick loved ones.  How many of them were lonely and searching for something more in their lives?  There were people that day that stood in the presence of the Almighty, the Comforter, the Healer and they let him pass by.  Maybe they were too embarrassed.  Maybe they thought there would be other opportunities.  If so, they were wrong.  Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, then Bethany and then Gethsemane.  Jesus was on His way to the cross.

Bartimaeus knew that now was the time.

And, for us today, now is the time.

Now is the time to step out in service. It is time to do whatever act of service the Lord has been calling you to do.

Now is the time to step out in faith and do that thing that you know in your heart you’re called to do.

Now is the time to say, I’m not going to be afraid anymore.

Now is the time to leave it all behind and follow Him.

Go on that mission trip.  Teach that class.  Take that job.  Adopt that child. 

Take up your cross and follow Him…

Because the time is now.