Thursday, April 18, 2024

Treating the Word of God Like Over-Priced Gelatto

Suggested Reading: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

When we lived closer, my wife and I had a particular restaurant we frequented on date nights, an Italian wood-fire grill. The first time we went, we shared a gourmet pizza and an incredible appetizer and when we were done, we ordered dessert. Normally we share dessert, but this time we each decided to get our own thing. My wife ordered a banana crumble type thing and I simply ordered a cup of gelatto. The gelatto, according to the menu was going to cost me $5, which was a little high, but I figured I could try it once and see whether or not it was worth it. But when they finally brought it out, it was in this itty-bitty cup and didn't have much to it. Don't get me wrong, the gelatto was absolutely delicious. But as I sat there looking at the size of the dessert I simply kept thinking, This is really good, but I'm not going to pay $5 again to get so little gelatto. As good as it was, I just didn't think it was worth the price I had to pay.

As Jesus continued his parable about the reasons the Word of God doesn't always produce results in people's lives, he described the second type of soil/person this way: "[Other seeds] fell on rocky ground, where there wasn’t much soil, and they sprang up quickly since the soil wasn’t deep. But when the sun came up they were scorched, and since they had no root, they withered"(Matthew 13:5-6, HCSB). He then explained the illustration by saying, "And the one sown on rocky ground — this is one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. Yet he has no root in himself, but is short- lived. When pressure or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he stumbles" (Matthew 13:20-21). Essentially, Jesus was saying, sometimes we don't experience the power of the Word of God in our lives because we don't think it is worth it. When trouble comes, we simply don't believe the power of the Word of God is worth the price we will have to pay and so we allow the work God is doing in us to whither and die.

I've seen numerous examples of this. The couple called to the mission field stops Bible school and goes back to a regular 9 to 5 job because they are scared about finances. The high schooler who has always been a leader in his church youth group stops attending church because his girlfriend thinks the Bible is stupid and he doesn't want to lose her. That lady who is up for a promotion stops talking about her faith at work because she thinks it might cost her the position and the raise. The college student includes untruths in his paper because the truth would offend his professor and he needs the grade to keep up his GPA. Over and over again, we decide that the power of the Word of God simply isn't worth the price we will have to pay and we let the work it is doing in our lives whither and die.

But it doesn't have to be that way. I am convinced that, much of the time, we behave this way because we simply aren't thinking about what we are doing, because we haven't thought about it in terms of the work of God in our lives being worth the price we are paying. We delude ourselves into thinking we can have it both ways, that we can experience the full power of God in our lives and still compromise in certain areas so that it doesn't cost us as much. But when we say it aloud, most of us know that simply isn't true. King Jesus requires all our loyalty all the time, no matter the price. Just as he said to the rich man, Jesus says to us, "Sell all you have to benefit someone else. Then come follow me" (Luke 8:22, my paraphrase).

If we haven't experienced the power of the Word of God recently, maybe it's because we have unconsciously decided that it simply wasn't worth the price. Jesus requires everything of us, but he seemed to think it was worth it. Will we believe him or not?

Only Casting Out the Annoying Demons

Suggested Reading: Acts 16:16-34 There is a sentence in Acts 16 that has always bugged me. Paul and Silas were in Philippi as missionari...