Exploring Matthew - Let's Try That Again
I have a friend who sometimes tells me my way of explaining things sounds too churchy. I appreciate that because I know people who have never been to church may not be able to understand. She didn't say that yesterday but soon after sending out my blog, I realized I knew what I was saying but I didn't really say it. Today we're going to try again.
Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins. Matthew 3:5-6 NASB1995
These people were church people, religious people, the people with all the answers. Why would the people with all the answers need to go out to the desert to listen to a guy dressed in camel skins? Clearly, for all their answers they had questions. There was an emptiness inside them that their knowledge and religion couldn't fill.
Seventh-day Adventists were born out of a knowledge movement. We understand things and know things that many Christians don't. I even know some Adventists who believe and teach that we are modern Israel. They don't realize the full implications of that claim... Israel back then was full of knowledge but empty. Israel back then failed to recognize and then killed their own Messiah.
Why? Because for all that they knew, they didn't know God.
John was calling for a restart. He was calling for Israel to die to, and wash away all they thought they knew, and come up out of the water seeking after Jesus instead of seeking after religion, tradition, and their own version of the Story.
Let me be as clear and frank as I dare. The focus of my church has been and remains on acquiring knowledge. Overtly or unconsciously, we believe we are saved by what we know. It's possible to be a fantastic Seventh-day Adventist and not know Jesus at all. It's possible to sit through a month of nightly preaching and come away filled with things you never knew or heard before and not know Jesus any better.
One of our preachers was once told by visitors to his meetings that they came to his meetings to learn about prophecy, but they went to their own church to learn about Jesus...
How dire is it? Some of the Adventist preachers today that have the largest and most loyal followings rarely talk about Jesus. They talk about prophecy. They talk about the pope, they talk about secret organizations, they talk about politics, etc... but for all their talk I ask myself, "where is Jesus?" Where is the One who died for us all? Where is the One who ate with tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners while the church criticized Him. Where is the One who taught us to build bridges instead of walls? Where is the One to whom all prophecy properly understood points?
I fear many of my people are looking for a great event instead of longing for the One who longs for them. That's why I said eternal living starts now. We don't have to wait until He returns to walk and talk with Him. We don't have to wait for some future events. He is with us now. He has been with us all along. We don't have to be full of knowledge but carrying around an empty heart.
If what you believe doesn't supply you daily with love, joy, and peace, you are needing to go see John at the Jordan. What does that mean? It means your focus has been in the wrong place. Your hope has been in what you know or who you are or what church you belong to. Confess it. Die to it. Wash it all away. Find your hope in the Person of Jesus. Read the Bible to discover Him. Align your life with His. Ask for a heart like His. Start a new life that will never leave you empty again.