Sunday, February 25, 2018

Honoring God Even If We Don't Understand

I’ve shared several times about how much I love baseball. Well there was something I began to do after I had accepted Jesus as my Savior. At some point along my life I had heard the verse from 1st Corinthians chapter 10 verse 31, “31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
I don’t know where I heard it, or when I heard, but it had stuck with me. So one day I decided that baseball was to be something I did that should bring glory to God. So before every game I dedicated my play to him. Eventually, I also wrote that verse on my cleats. Now I found that when I didn’t dedicate my game to God, I didn’t work as hard as I know I could. It was if something propelled me to work harder, to watch my words more carefully, and to keep my emotions in better check.
And when I didn’t, well, let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. Fast forward into my college time, I found that I could go online and and have custom cleats made for me that had 1st Corinthians 10:31 stitched onto the outside. And for the years I played college ball, they were a constant reminder that my time on the field was time that should be spent binging honor to God.

But that verse doesn’t speak of baseball, or church, or meals, or any one thing. 1st Corinthians 10:31 is a verse that calls every aspect of our lives to be God honoring. Today, I want us to look into the book of John and see what happens way too often in our own lives with this whole idea about honoring God. And what God would have from us.
So if you have your Bibles, we’re going to be in the book of John, chapter 6, starting almost at the end in verse 60. And as you open up to John 6:60, I want to give you a little background to catch us up to where we are.
In the sixth chapter of John’s book, Jesus has accomplished two miracles. The first was to feed 5,000 plus on five loaves of bread and two fish. The second was walking on water. Both of which are pretty amazing. I mean, if you have ever had teenagers or a kid with a bottomless belly, five loaves and two fish wouldn’t go that far. And walking on water should be pretty obvious on how amazing that would be. And the people we will see interacting with Jesus in this passage have either seen one or both of these miracles, or they know of people that have seen them. These people are therefore following Jesus because they perceive him in a certain way.
But these two miracles bring us to Jesus’ teaching. These teachings in verses 25-59, can be summed up this way: Jesus is the bread of life, and he is the only way to eternal life. And it’s because of this teachings we get verses 60-71. So let’s read.

60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

This interaction is a great example of 1st Corinthians 10:31, “31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” It gives us both a negative on how we do not honor God, and it gives us a positive on how to honor God.

Now let’s take a look at all of this together. Jesus had just performed miracles so amazing, that thousands of people began to follow him. Jesus had showed that he had the power over the hunger of the people. To the people, Jesus was the answer to famines, to poverty, to starvation. Jesus had showed that he had power over natural law. To the people, the very sea was at his command. If a person could do these things today, millions would flock to them.
And in fact, there are people who are charlatans and thousands follow them, just think if Jesus was doing these feedings and water strolls today? And because of these and other miracles that Jesus had performed, people were flocking to him.
And then, from a human point of view, Jesus messed it all up by telling the people, that he was the bread of life. That they needed to eat of his flesh. And looking at what Jesus just said here, one might think, “Man Jesus, you just made things weird. Everyone was with you when you were giving out free food, and looking good as you walked across the water. Why did you have to make it weird by comparing yourself to food, and telling everyone to eat your flesh?”
But that wasn’t just it, Jesus also told the people that he was the only way to the Father. That Jesus and the Father were one.
To the Jews, Jesus gave them two reasons to think he was out of his mind. To them, and I would hope to us, eating human flesh was sickening. Something a nonbeliever, a sinner would do. Not an good Jew. And I would have to agree. In the book of Lamentations were told that mothers were eating their children. Doesn’t that disgust you? And yet here, Jesus is telling people to eat his flesh and drink his blood.
To add another level of insult to the whole thing, Jesus was making himself equal with God. And therefore making himself God. And with both of those things taken together, is it really that strange that the people started leaving?

I’m sure many of them were like, “look I just came for the free food and the cool tricks, I’m not into all this flesh eating, blood drinking, crazy direction that this seems to be going. And they many started to walk away. And as they walked away they say, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” Who can accept eating a man’s flesh, or drinking his blood? Who can accept believing that God is walking with us right now?
And as they begin to walk away with these questions in their mind, Jesus asks them, “Does this offend you?” Do these words make you uncomfortable? Do these ideas not fit your tastes?
And this is where we see the negative use of 1st Corinthians 10:31. These people showed that they never wanted to honor God in the first place. Sure they were there, sure they got to experience some amazing things, they were even called disciples, but the ones they wanted to honor were themselves. They wanted what was good for them, what was good for their bodies, for their entertainment, but not for God.
And when it was time to answer the calling of God, they showed what they wanted to honor, and it wasn’t God, it was themselves.

And this is how both these disciples that left and we can be on the negative side of 1 Corinthians 10:31. See, we have the tendency to only give God honor, until he no longer fits what our desire for him is.
When God fits into our theology, our social norms, our preconceived ideas, we will honor him. But when he tells us not to lust, but we want to look at that picture one more time, we walk away. Or when he tells us to forgive that person in our lives, we walk away. When he tells us to share his Gospel, but we think it will just cause problems in our friendships, we walk away. And why? Because it’s to hard to honor God. To submit that thing we want to hold onto, because it’s too hard for us. And instead of honoring God, we show where our true honor lies, and it’s with us.

After these people left, Jesus turns to the twelve disciples he had specifically called and asked them, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” And it’s in Peter’s response that we see the positive use of 1st Corinthians 10:31.
Peter says, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
The disciples that stayed realized that they might not understand what Jesus was saying, but they were going to follow it anyways. Did they understand that Jesus didn’t actually mean that they were going to eat his flesh and drink his blood? That what he meant was that what sustains us only comes from Jesus. That Jesus meant, that just like we eat bread to keep our bodies going, it’s the word of God that takes our lives into eternity. Probably not. They probably were just as disgusted at the idea of eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood, as the other Jews were.
They were probably just as put off as the other Jews with Jesus making himself equal with the Father. But they realized that Jesus had something they needed. That there was no other place that had what Jesus did. So even if they didn’t fully understand, they at least understood that Jesus was the only place where they could go that held what they truly needed. And they would not abandon that reality.
These disciples show us what it means to honor God. See God wants us to honor him, beyond our current need, even if we don’t understand what is happening.
I might know that God wants me to forgive that person for the hurt they have caused me, but what if I do? What will happen? Will we become friends again, or will they hurt me more? But here’s the thing, If I am going to honor God, I forgive. I don’t know what will happen, but God says to do it, so I must do it. Is it hard? Yes, but to honor God I must follow his teachings, even if I don’t fully understand it.
And here is where 1st Corinthians 10:31 becomes real. “31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
The question for the longest time I had was, how do I do this? How do I honor God in whatever I do?
Peter and the other disciples with him that stuck with Jesus gives us that answer.

What are you doing right now? Are you working? Are you retired? Are you taking care of kids? Are you enjoying freedom? Are you dealing with the loss of a loved one? Are you celebrating the birth of child? What is happening with your life right now?
Is everything falling into place? Or maybe it’s all falling apart? Is your life feeling like it’s finally getting on smooth ground? Or are you feeling like there’s potholes every foot?

Whatever it is, whatever is going on, everything that is happening right now is to be God honoring. We might not understand it, we might not get it, and we might be uneasy with what’s happening. But the way we honor God through this is just like Peter did, by looking to Jesus and saying, where else can I go?
We dedicate our time, our work, our experience, our kids, our retirement, our spouse, our whatever to God and say I have no place to go, so I will follow you. I will put my trust into you.
Can we ask questions? Yes, God is a God who wants us to seek him. Can we share our struggles? Yes, God wants us to cry out to him, and he has given us his people the Church to do just that.
But we need to make a commitment today, and say, with whatever is in my life I will do it for God’s glory. I might not understand everything, but with everything I will honor God.

When we do that, we will experience the life God has for us, because we will do the one thing that opens up the door to God’s full life, and that’s taking our eyes off ourselves, and putting them where they’re supposed to be, on God himself.

Today my challenge is very simple, write the verse1 Corinthians 10:31 on a small piece of paper and put in your wallet, or purse, and when you see it say a little prayer, “God, let me honor you even when I don’t understand.

Now may the Lord who is worthy of all our honor and praise, give us the strength to honor him today. Amen.

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