Reading the Bible

Last night, I somehow stumbled across a YouTube video of Rich Mullins that I had never seen before.  I wasn’t looking for it.  The video and sound quality isn’t too good.  It is definitely a homemade video.  I only got through about 50 minutes of it so far.  I’ll have to watch it in segments.

At the time Rich was in the Chicago area with a couple of his fellow musicians to record an album for one of them (Mitch McVicker).  Their hosts always had and apparently still have a weekly night of singing with friends and so Rich and his two buddies gave them a pretty special, intimate concert.  Unbeknownst to Rich, he was going to leave this world to be with Jesus just six days after this was filmed.

As Rich would do in a regular concert (so I’ve heard), he gave a little devotional and shared some of his thoughts.  He was speaking about reading the Bible for what it says and not trying to make it say what we might want it to say.  It’s not a new point or perspective, but Rich always had a unique way of saying things.

I never saw him in concert and while I know many who like his music, I know some who say he was a bit…well…weird.  He probably was.  He also was a guy with a big heart and really tried to follow Jesus and not a church or anyone else.  I always respected that.

Anyway, as he was sharing this on the video, I tried to jot down a few lines of what he said because I liked it.  I couldn’t hear every single word with certainty, but here’s a pretty good transcript of a few lines as he spoke about reading the Bible for what it says and for really wanting the things that God wants us to want and to be the persons He wants us to be:

“We want God to inspire confidence and what God wants to inspire is fear.  And we want God to give us all kinds of assurances, and what God wants to give us is faith.  And we want to become healthy and prosperous and unaffected by the world, and He wants us to encounter the world in such a way as He did…in which the world will eventually kill us.” ~Rich Mullins

I think there’s some truth in those words.  Sometimes we forget that we’re supposed to be following Jesus like those first disciples about whom was said, “They’ve turned the world upside-down.”  And many times I think we’ve allowed the world to turn us upside-down (or is that right-side-up?) so that we see life and death and all that is in between in the same way that the world sees it.

We sometimes get caught up in the temporal and worry about tomorrow and about things and about appearances and about security in all its forms, and don’t we know better?  Don’t we have a God who is bigger than all those things?  Don’t we have a God who put the world in place…spinning…turning…and He defines what is right-side-up and upside-down…and whatever that really is, the world defines it as the opposite.

The Devil told him if he was hungry (and having not eaten for 40 days…he was starving) to turn the stones into bread.  No, not going to do that because man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

Foxes have dens and birds have nests and the Son of Man has no where to lay his head.  It isn’t as though Jesus slept outside every night, but He didn’t appear to be concerned about having a big house, with a nice stone wall, a 2 donkey garage, and a baptismal pool out back.

Whoever wants to be his disciple must hate his father and mother, his wife, his children, his brother, and his sister, and even his very life.   These aren’t words of which the world approves.  Thinking way back in my childhood memories, my Sunday school teacher might not have either.  We’re not supposed to hate anyone, right?

I’m sure we could go on into 401Ks and retirement and all sorts of uncomfortable topics.  All of Jesus’ earthly possessions were fought over by a few soldiers who ended up taking a gamble on them and even the winner didn’t really gain anything worth keeping.  They didn’t need a U-Haul trailer to pack up all His clothes.  They didn’t even need a U-Haul packing box.

Even when His disciples didn’t have enough food on-hand for even a snack amongst the 13 of them, Jesus said, “Give them something to eat.”  Yes…all 5,000 of them (counting only men…may have been a total over 20,000 people).

Wouldn’t you think that the Son of God, the all-knowing God, even in His humanity would be able to think enough ahead to plan for a dinner party of 20,000?  Wouldn’t you know it.  We follow that type of leader who always finds Himself in a jam because He didn’t plan ahead for even the most obvious things?

Of course, we know better intellectually, don’t we?  We know He had a plan.  We know He was going to provide for all those people.  We know He was going to pray and start breaking bread and keep breaking bread and break bread for hours in order to feed that crowd out of just a few loaves and a few fishes.  I wonder if we’re really following that same Jesus.  I wonder if He breaks some loaves and fishes for us sometimes.  I suspect we’re usually off and running to the nearest town trying to see if the bread store is open and hoping they have a lot of extra bread that day.

Food,  shelter, family, and clothing are among the three foundational levels of the most important needs in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Doesn’t sound like we follow a Jesus who was concerned too much about these basic needs.

So what was it we were concerned about today?

And thus follows the question: Why?  Why wasn’t Jesus concerned about these things and why doesn’t He want us to be concerned about them?  Because He wants us to depend on our God.  He wants us to follow Him and be like Him.  He wants us to follow a God who turns water into wine, a few loaves into thousands of loaves, and who focuses all our affections on Him and not on anything or anyone else.

I don’t think that means we are necessarily supposed to live as poorly and frugally as He did.  It means that we’re not concerned about it if we do and not indulgent in it if we don’t.  None of us do live that poorly anyway.  If you did, you wouldn’t be reading this right now because you wouldn’t have a computer.  (gotcha!)  It means when all our affections are focused on Him, we’ll love Him so much that we’ll love everyone else just the right way.  And all these things will be added unto you.

Enjoy the video if you can find the time:

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