Photo credit to Brittany Cunningham.
“If I say the truth, why do You not believe me?” John 8:46b
Religion may be a personal and private matter, but being a Christian is not! Meriam Ibrahim has been put in chains. Pastor Saeed Abedini is being beaten and tortured. Christians of Mosul are being driven from their homes. Christians of Nigeria are having their churches burned and being killed. And none of this, I mean absolutely none of this is changing their mind! Why? Because these CHRISTIANS KNOW WHO THEY BELIEVE. Now I’m not printing that in bold type because I’m angry. It’s just that this is the most important thing to get. And it’s exactly what Jesus is asking You and me today. “Do You get what it means to believe in Me?”
Jesus, You, asked this question of the religious leaders that day, “Which of you convinces (elegcho) me of sin?” And you are still asking us that question today. Elegcho is a Greek word that means “to shame, to disgrace, to convict, to prove one wrong, to rebuke, to reprove, to make manifest, to expose.” And try as hard as they would to really dredge up something sinful in You against God, they could not. They could only dredge up falsehoods, lies. But when I read the rest of the conversation that led to these words, I see it’s really also about the sin that does shame, disgrace, convict, and prove us wrong as You expose it in us solely by the nature of Who You Are and by Your sinlessness.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:11 “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Here, “expose” is that same word “elegcho.” But there is only one way to truly expose our own hearts, our own works, and it is only exposed by the Light, because only the Light knows what it is to be without all sin and without reproof. But what does this all mean for me?
I think here, Lord, You are showing that You even admonish our belief (pisteuo). If I hop back to John 8:30 to enter this day in time, there were the Jews who believed on You. But in the next verse, You spoke specifically to the Jews which believed. That’s where You warned about remaining in Your word to be a true disciple. And remaining in Your word would guide us to know the truth and be free. But they balked at that and were insulted by Your words. “We’re Abraham’s seed and were never in bondage. What do You mean we need to be made free?”
So what were they believing in You? What did they really have faith in? Thank goodness You know where our faith truly lies and You confront it to correct it. “Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin and the servant of sin doesn’t live in God’s house, but the sinless One, Jesus, lives with God forever.” And You, Lord, are the Only One with the power to free us. The One who is not under any control of shame, fault, or reproof, the One who is not controlled in any way by sin, is the Only One with the power to set us free from the control of shame, fault, and rebuke.
How could people who believed be the people who were Abraham’s seed and seeking to kill You at the same time? Could it be because they weren’t who they thought they were? Could it be because they were under the conviction of man and not God? Were they believing as man unto God instead of believing in Christ unto God? If they were believing in You, Jesus, why weren’t they believing in Your every word? If they were believing in You why would You tell them they were acting like their father, Satan, the father of lies? If they were believing in You, why didn’t they love You as You loved them? If they were believing in You, why didn’t they understand You and really listen to and obey Your words? Because genuine belief, life changing belief wrought by the power of God, leads to truly hearing God’s words. And here is the thing about hearing- hearing for the Lord always implies doing.
“He who believes Me obeys Me. He who believes Me loves Me. He who believes Me needs Me. He who believes Me follows Me no matter what.” Being a believer, being a Christian means that I have chosen to line up totally with the Lord. I am accepting the shame that was placed on You by man because I value Your freedom from conviction, shame, and sin more. Your word becomes the essence of my life. Your Word is Life. And all the other opinions are lies. And lies lead to death. And all I want is to be alive in You for eternity.
Skip Moen, when looking at the word “elegcho,” made this statement, “There is no such thing as a Christian wallflower. There are no milk toast followers of Jesus. If God has a grip on you, you are going to cause some trouble. You’re going to make a stir. So you might as well be ready…God hates the lie that our lives belong to us.” It’s not about me. It never was about me. It’s always been about You. It’s about what You created me for and how You created me to glorify You. It’s about how each of us has been created to fulfil Your will, not our own and n0t the world’s.
It’s so easy to say we believe until You start to press Your finger on us and show us something that doesn’t line up. It’s easy to think we believe until it comes to having to change. Then it’s like we get ready to stone You. Like we can oppose Your will! So the question to ask is, “Am I opposing Your will, Your words in my life, Lord?” Let me throw out all my defensiveness and be taught and admonished by You. Teach me to accept Your training. May I love and obey Your words.
I want to know the One I believe in. I need to know the One I believe in. I want to be like Meriam Ibrahim, Pastor Saeed Abedini, the Christians of Mosul, and the Christians of Nigeria. I want to believe because I have seen and come to know You, not because of what other people think. Let all the world around me fade, and You alone stand glorified. I want to live in You no matter the cost. Because in You alone is life and living and Your words are the only words that matter.