All Men

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There is an old Gaither band song titled “The Longer I Serve Him, the Sweeter He Grows.” That is a truth. But I am finding the same thing can be said about the Scriptures. Many years ago I was, I thought, well versed in the Bible, having sat under the excellent teaching of several serious Bible students and expositors.

In recent months I am finding gems hidden in plain view as I read the Word daily. I am learning to read each verse, each passage, slowly and carefully, asking questions as I do. No longer do I read quickly because “I know the story.” Somewhere along the way I started paying greater attention to what Jesus said. If He said it, He means it then, now and forever. It is truth. I have noticed that some of what He said has been taught or interpreted to have a general religious meaning somewhat different than the straight forward no-interpretation-needed understanding. Jesus is not confused. He knew what He was saying. I choose to believe it, and in that choice I am discovering riches beyond measure.

One example is found in John 12:32. “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

This has been explained as being evangelistic. The preaching of the cross, talking about Jesus’ death, will draw people to faith and conversion. We just need to lift up the story of the cross to those who have not heard, and they will be drawn to Jesus.

That simple explanation does not account for “all people” being drawn to himself. He said “I will draw all people…” Who will? Jesus. When? When He is lifted up. When was that? Good Friday. Where did this take place? On Calvary.

So to take Him at His word, all men, all people, were drawn to Him at the time of the Crucifixion. This makes perfect sense when you consider His death was once for all mankind. By incorporating all people, past, present and future, into Himself His death than became the one death for all. The huge sin burden and debt of everyone was loaded on to Him. Therefore His death, carrying all peoples of all time and everywhere to the grave, made it possible for anyone anywhere to walk free of sin.

He did indeed die for the entire human race. It is accomplished fact before we ever heard any preaching. Our part? Believe Him. Acknowledge our sin is now dead and forgiven. Rejoice that we were included on that day, that day above all others, when He was lifted up from the earth. If He had not actually done that, our salvation would be based on words alone, a shaky concept at best.

We can rest on the authority of His word. “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” It is finished, indeed.

The River or the Canal?

God said He wants to do a new thing, a new way of showing himself, or expressing Christianity in the world. He showed me a river which was freely moving, forming bends and twists as it went. There was life everywhere the river flowed.

In contrast was the canal – straight, with concrete walls and with no life along its edges. Life forms could not access the water because of the impenetrable concrete walls which were man made. There was some water in the canal, but it was rather murky and moving very slowly, if at all.

As I thought about this, it became clear He wants to take each of us, as a unique drop of water, where He wills. In so doing He can flow through each, bringing freshness and life wherever the water touches. Spontaneity, effectiveness and at the same time, freedom from stress are the hallmarks of this move.

Many expressions of Christianity have become canals, man made structures, unaware the water in them has become stagnant.

One thing that keeps people in the canal rather than in the river flow is fear. The unpredictability of going where He moves us on any given day is unsettling to most. We rather like the comfort of the familiar. Therefore we trade freedom and adventure with the Lord for the safety of the known, picking up boredom as part of the package. This keeps the people of the world away from the little bit of water we do have.

It is our choice: living in abandonment to God, bringing freshness and life everywhere we go, or staying in the security of the canal, colorlessly inching our way through life. The Lord has made it clear that His way of expressing himself on the earth is superior to ours, and He will have His way. Only then will the world be attracted to his life-giving water.

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