Monday, March 28, 2011

I Want To See God In Action

As children we learn most of what we learn by watching our parents. It is a simple process of seeing what they do and then trying it for ourselves. As we grow our influence changes but it is still the same basic principle as we watch our friends and do what they do. Often it is also how we grow spiritually, as we place ourselves under the authority of a more mature disciple of Jesus and learn from them. It is true that we learn from the Word and we learn from what we are taught but the most effective lessons as those we see in other people. Jesus taught his disciples with a lot of words but he also taught by doing. He even revealed himself to those who hated him by what he did.

In a previous blog we had looked at the reasons why Jesus had cleared the temple in Jerusalem but what we didn’t consider was that this was the exclusive domain of the chief priests. The temple was like its own little city; it even had its own soldiers, and was governed by the priests. Yet, Jesus simply walked in and turned their little domain upside down. Of course, Jesus saw the temple a bit different than they did. After all, it was not actually their domain but instead the representation of God’s presence in Israel and the center of worship. However, when Jesus upset the order of things, his authority to do so was quickly challenged:

Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” (John 2:18)

The apostle John refers to them simply as Jews but the other writers of this account identify them as the chief priests. It seems like a fair question. If Jesus is going to come in acting like a prophet then they wanted some proof that he was a prophet who was acting on God’s will. However, if these were the chief priests one would think that they would be a little more sensitive to God, his will and know when he walks through their front door. Nonetheless, Jesus gave them a simple reply:

Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” (John 2:19)

The Jews did not understand what he was talking about. Without giving much thought to his words they jumped all over him because they assumed he was talking about the structure around them:

The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” (John 2:20)

This is a bit of a cautionary tale and is an example of the misunderstanding we can have with what God is speaking to us. There are times when we need to reflect on his Word and give the Spirit time to teach us and show us what it is that God is telling us. In this case Jesus was talking about his body. The Jews would indeed destroy his body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, and Jesus would raise it again on the third day. In other words, Jesus was telling them, watch me. If you want to know my authority, then watch me. His disciples watched him for three years, every miracle, every kindness, every single thing he did and they concluded that he was the Christ, the Son of God.

I wonder how many times we miss this with God. I wonder how many times he has said “watch me” to us when we have cried out to him, when we have been filled with doubt and fear, when we have been lost and alone. I wonder how many times he has challenged us to “watch him” when we have shouted at him in anger, despair or great sorrow. Our God is a God of action, who reveals his glory in action, who reveals himself to us in action, who teaches us who he is by action. The cross is the greatest testament of his love in action but he didn’t stop there. He reveals himself to us every day in the many things he does for us but we have to be watching. We can’t be like the chief priests who didn’t even recognize God when he walked through their front door. We need to be like children, learning from the actions of our Father.

If you can’t see him then pray very simply, “Open my eyes to see you in action today Father”. Pray it and then take a good look around you today, in the circumstances, in the miracles, in the answers to prayers and in the faces of the people around you. Look and learn because our God is saying to us, “Watch me and you will know me”.