Today was a day that we have always heard about, but never hoped would happen. In our city (Ottawa) we were all startled, alarmed, shocked, and surprised that our city which is considered one of the best cities to live in North America, was home to a terrorist attack.
We are young people and while we may think we are invincible today is a day that reminds us that death is no respecter of time, place, or person.
With so many speculations and opinions about this event sometimes we can be confused and drown in the wave of emotion that is understandable in an event like this. Undoubtedly they will increase security around the Parliament building, and there will probably be some sort of monitoring of others suspected to be involved with terrorist activity.
You don’t have to go far to see the number of people speaking out about what happened today. On social media I have seen posts such as “Ottawa is a mess” , “I’m moving out of Ottawa I’m not trying to get shot”, “we need to destroy the Middle East”.
These statements are nothing short of reactionary and much of it is fueled by fear. So how should we respond ? How should we react? Should we be afraid ? Should we fight ? Should would we run ? Should we hide ?
Well first we must pray. Jesus warned us that things of this nature would happen in our world and He instructed us to watch and pray. How should you pray ? Pray for the families of the victims whose lives have been turned upside down by today. Pray that the COMFORTER would be ever so near in this hour; that they would feel his embrace and that they would look to Him in their time of sorrow.
Pray that believers in our city would arise and begin to live souled out lives for the cause of Christ; that we would spread the love of Christ through word and deed to all those willing to listen and receive so they too can experience this love that causes us not be afraid, but to have faith in our Savior, Protector and Deliverer.
Pray for our leaders in government. Pray that they would have a heart after God and would seek His will when making decisions concerning policy and the future of our nation.
Pray lastly for yourself that you would live for Jesus in this critical time. Pray that your faith would not fail and that you no matter what may happen would remain committed to living for Jesus no matter the price you must pay.
Do not be afraid ! Do not live in fear! Live in faith. Live it out boldly! Live it out unashamedly! With the extremity of the attacks that are being carried out, we must live out our faith that is based in love with greater extremity.
Love like never before. Help, serve, do, support, and give more like never before. You are the change the world needs and you will change it by your faith in the One who continues to change us!
We will not be afraid, but we will be unashamed.
In closing Psalm 91 (probably my favorite piece of Scripture) sums up who is with us and why we shouldn’t be afraid.
1Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
4 He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
8 Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.
9 If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”
Some good tips for leaders.
If you were to walk into any modern church building today you would probably find the following: a digital sign welcoming guests, at least five to seven instruments on stage (four of them guitars), an extensive sound system, glorious stage lights, a video projector that makes the big screen TV at the local sports bar look like an Ipad mini screen, and reading material informing you about the church’s latest and greatest programs.
The programs themselves are exhaustive as there are now youth programs, young adult programs, children’s programs, men’s ministry, women’s ministry, music ministry, dance ministry, cleaning ministry, hospitality ministry, bus ministry, tambourine ministry (just kidding), and the list could probably go on till Jesus comes. Now, let’s get one thing clear, I completely believe in ministering to people at their level and there are certain programs that help us achieve this, however as I visit churches and participate in more events, I am seeing the constant decrease in Him and increase of us.
Our churches now run on strict programs that have firm time allotments. We have intro videos and transitional music to make sure there is a seamless passing of the torch (microphone) to the next person who is to entertain us on stage. Preachers are now graded on delivery and stage presence, and music teams are evaluated by the quality of their musicianship and ability to perform the latest and greatest worship hit.
Now while none of these things are inherently wrong, there seems to be a lack of desire, appreciation, and many would say, focus for what really matters. We have become so distracted as a culture with things and stuff, that we have become a church that values the things we have, more than the One we have.
Mark 10:17-22 tells us a story of rich young man who approached Jesus and asked Him what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus gives him a list of six commandments that deal with the treatment of your fellow man. Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honour your father and mother. The young man quickly exclaims and says in our vernacular, I’ve got it covered. Just as the song “I ain’t worried ‘bout nothing” began to play (okay I made that up), Jesus says one thing you lack. Pause the music, go your way, sell everything you have; give it to the poor; take up your cross and follow me. The rich young man was no longer “turnt up” as we would say. To Him, Jesus was only worth following if he could keep his stuff. Jesus was not enough for him. He needed Jesus and _______. Just Jesus? Really? That’s it ?! That’s all I get?
I myself am 22 years of age so I have found myself in this same scenario. There are constant waves of pressure to pursue things. We go to school to get a job so we can make money, buy a car, buy a house, and then find a husband or a wife who we can get married to and have kids with, so that in turn buy more things for them. We work two or three jobs to buy more, go on vacations, get nicer clothes, impress people, (who don’t care by the way) but nonetheless we are in constant pursuit of things while Jesus and our relationship with Him takes a back seat… better yet, rests in the trunk.
Just Jesus? Really, that’s it? This attitude seems to be more than overwhelming the modern young Christian. It is proved not by our Facebook statuses, but by our actions. Time with Jesus is spent in a few sporadic moments throughout the week. The things that are said in these moments are usually repetitions of the same thing we said the day before, asking Him for more things that will eventually take the place of Him in our lives. To us, Jesus is a spoiler on the back of our car, it makes the car look better, but it doesn’t really change the way the car drives. Jesus to us can be replaced with church and going to church. Jesus can be replaced by being nice and being a good person. Jesus is a means of getting the earthly things that we want, not obtaining the Heavenly things that we need. For us it is just Jesus? Jesus is nothing more to us than the friend we catch up with once in a while. He is nothing more than a great name to throw in a hashtag on twitter #teamJesus. (The hashtag should probably say #teamme) For us,” just Jesus” deserves a question mark behind it. That’s it?! All I get is Jesus?! You mean I’m supposed to be satisfied with just knowing Jesus? You mean to tell me I should love to spend time with Him? You mean I should love His Word and His Presence more than I love myself?
While the “just Jesus?” attitude seems to be prevalent, I know there is another remnant of people that utter the same words but with a different tone. Just Jesus! The question mark used earlier, replaced by an exclamation mark, says something far different. The question mark speaks of Jesus not being enough. It speaks of needing other things to add to our Christianity to make it better or complete.
The exclamation mark signifies a complete and total satisfaction with Jesus. It conveys the emotion of passionate pursuit of the One who is everything to us. This act of passionate pursuit is seen in the story of a woman named Mary (Luke 7:7-49) who goes to Jesus while He is eating and interrupts the meal by breaking a box of ointment and pouring it on Jesus’ head. She then begins to kiss Jesus’ feet and begins to weep uncontrollably in His presence as she is overwhelmed by the gravity of the moment. Here she was a woman in a strong patriarchal society, showing up unannounced, and uninvited to a house filled with a group of men. She has broken probably her most valuable possession and is using it in an act of worship seen like no other.
This is what “just Jesus!” looks like. It is total abandon of self and the things one possesses. It is the total recognition that there is no better place to be than in the presence of Jesus. It is the willingness to be mocked and scorned for such display of love and passion. It is the understanding that we pursue Jesus not for the things He can give us, but for who He is. Mary knew that her life of sin could only be redeemed in the presence of the One who did not condemn her but forgave her. There was no physical possession that Jesus could have given Mary that would have fixed her sin issue; it was only the presence of God wherein she could find forgiveness and grace that could address the spiritual problem that could not be bought with money.
So I say ask yourself, is Jesus enough? Is He all that you want? Do you find yourself wanting things more than you want Jesus? The fact is nothing that we pursue will ever satisfy us; it is only the pursuing of Jesus that will satisfy our heart and our spirit for He is everything we need and more. Stop trying to live up to people’s standards. Stop working yourself to death to accumulate a stash of earthly possessions. Stop killing yourself over a career and a degree. Stop measuring your spiritual life based on the physical blessings you receive. For our treasure is not in the things we have, but in the One we have.
When it seems like your faith is getting complicated and you find yourself confused and lacking direction, do yourself a favor and simplify your faith. Just Jesus! That’s it, nothing less and nothing more, just Him! Pursue Him! Want Him! Love Him! Spend time with Him! Talk to Him! Confide in Him! Trust in Him! He will always be enough!