Jesus Already Called, But We’re Not Listening

Why is what God has already given us not enough?

It’s such a marvelous thing to read the Old Testament and see what that means for the New Testament. Reading the New Testament most assuredly draws our attention back to the Old Testament and should raise questions about what God was doing. You can spend a lifetime of study of just the Bible and never exhaust learning, gleaning more insights into God’s marvelous truths, which provide us with insight into his will and character. While all may not be applicable to us, it is all relevant for faith and practice. And sufficient. And yet, so many have said “Meh, we like the subjective could-be God but it sure does make us feel good” stuff. 

 

I recently learned that the popularity of Jesus Calling, the devotional by Sarah Young, is bigger than I thought. Not only has the book sold over 9 million copies but there is a plethora of companion pieces, including a devotional Bible and phone app. Clearly, it has followed the path of the Purpose Driven Life and Prayer of Jabez that makes me wonder if Jesus told his disciples to go into all the world, therefore, and make merchandise. And let’s not be too quick to throw the authors and publishers under the bus because they wouldn’t be mass marketing Jesus products unless there was a demand based on sales.

So this post is not about Jesus Calling so much as it is about “us”. And by “us” I mean Christians who have soaked up this book and embraced it as if hugging Jesus himself. Because after all, the book is written in the first person as if Jesus himself is speaking. It occurs to me that there is something about this book that is appealing to people, especially women, and they have found comfort in it.

This book obviously resonates with people. To be sure, the popularity and evolution of companion products suggest that these devotionals feed something we need, or think we need and seek after.  The demand suggests that we need to have some kind of experience of Jesus in order to be satisfied with our Christian walk. And this leads me to ask why what God has already given us is not enough?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against experience. I think it is a necessary component of our humanity and especially more so in serving and worshiping an invisible God. The problem comes when we put experience in the driver’s seat for the sake of obtaining emotional comfort based on subjective means. Life is hard and pain is real for sure. We want assurance and relief during troubling times. We generally hate uncertainty. But that should drive us to rely on what God has sufficiently spoken instead of subjective words that come from others who claim to speak from God. Then you have to go through the gymnastics of figuring out if it is from God. As I wrote about in A Sure Word, why not just rely on what has already been written?

One thing that Young has said that I think strikes at the heart of the issue. In her introduction, she recalls her time as a counselor in Atlanta, “However, not once during those sixteen years did I vividly experience the presence of Jesus.”

Aside from wondering why Scripture is not enough for us, the bigger issue that I suspect resonates with those who have embraced these devotionals, is why aren’t we experiencing the presence of Christ reading the Bible? That’s a problem. All Scripture is about him and points to him. The Holy Spirit brings these words to life for those who truly believe.

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