STUFF I LOVE ABOUT GOD: CHAPTER THREE
BEHOLD THE LAMB! (not, cow)
“And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”. Micah 6:8
With a little sympathy and a lot of laughter I watched the news one evening regarding Mad Cow disease. It seemed after five years of bone-wearying research to discover whether or not B.S.E. could be transferred from cows to humans, scientists were just hours away from publishing their results. After spending $300,000 and thousands of man-hours by the country’s brightest professionals, after endless speculation from worried cow-farmers, after the multitude of panic-merchants who have undoubtedly boycotted wearing leather until they find out the results (because you never know!), we’ll never see the results. They will never be printed or released. Why? Because it seems that for the first five years the scientists, who thought they were examining the brains of cow, were in fact studying sheep brain.
So, what do you know? Even the brightest of us can make mistakes! I can’t decide whether that’s comforting or disconcerting. However, it wasn’t the scientists who were to blame. It was those who provided the brains, all the time assuring the scientists that what they were studying was true. The scientists were true to their studies. Unfortunately those who supplied the materials were not, and although the building looked fine, the foundation was sand.
After my unsympathetic laughter died down I began to think about this a little. I thought of the man, who had spent his entire life thinking he was studying truth until one evening he visited the Lamb. He came to Jesus at night and was informed of his grievous error. Thinking that life was found in the scripture, thinking that salvation lay within the law, thinking that God was impressed by “faultless” religious observance, he was to discover truth was found in the Lamb.
In fact, so useless was the fruit of his labour Jesus told him that he had to be born again. He wasn’t told to brush himself down. He wasn’t told to juggle the figures. He wasn’t even told he was on the right track. He was told to start again – from scratch.
Oh Nicodemus! After being raised in the family of God, surrounded by the countries brightest subjects, and being assured that what he was studying was true, only to find out his labours were pretty much in vain; unless, of course, he would be born again.
But shall we have sympathy for Nicodemus? Not at all. By all accounts, he, like the scientists studying B.S.E., ditched his studies and began again. If we are to have any sympathy, let us have it for all those religious scientists of Jesus’ day, who heard the truth, but tragically returned to studying with their heads planted firmly in a bed of sand.
Rather than ditch their lifetime errors, they continued in their futile, lifeless and empty religious studies. So wrapped up in their own personal “correctness” they rejected the Lamb, no doubt encouraged in their efforts by the standard (or lack thereof) of the twelve scientists who surround Jesus; a bunch of wannabe scientists who didn’t even possess the appropriate credentials.
I’m reminded also of a woman. A woman, who, if our own son brought her home, we’d more than likely throw a fit – though she was fit enough for Jesus. She thought it was important WHERE she worshipped, and she’d been studying this particular course all her life. Her married-five-times lifestyle seemed to indicate that she placed all her hopeful eggs in the basket of “where”.
Her adventure is a remarkable one. Not only did she ditch the advice of her colleagues, but she turned many of her fellow scientists from “where” to the feet of the Lamb. Her inclusion in the Book of Books stands as a sharp rebuke to religious scientists everywhere who still believe the “where” is more important than “spirit and truth”. That the name on the building matters more than the content therein.
Two wonderful examples from scripture, underlining the fact that years of meaningless study are only truly meaningless if we fail to embrace the truth that even meaningless study can reveal.
These two wonderful people (from opposite ends of the religious, social, cultural and moral spectrum), were pioneers in the field of “pearl diving” (Matt 13:45&46), teaching us that TRUTH is worth ditching everything you already hold to be dear.
And yet, in spite of having these two wonderful stories immortalised for us, where are we? Still we struggle to ditch the idea that salvation is to be found in personal righteousness, religious and ritualistic observation or even in the “where” of our worship. Still we struggle to embrace the fact that our salvation rests in a God, whose heart is so tender and so pregnant with compassion, that what He truly requires of us is that we go to Him, humbly, honestly, obediently asking His forgiveness.
Every now and then, during the preaching or studying of His word we come to realise that what we thought to be Lamb was actually beef. Let us, like these two pioneers before us, have the courage to turn our backs on what we’ve previously held to be true when the Lamb teaches differently.
God applauds the bravery of those who are willing to sacrifice all they know to be true when a deeper a truth emerges from their efforts in searching for Him.
I love that about God!