Jesus is Not a......
When I was a little kid and had a headache my momma would give me an aspirin. My headache would go away! It was like magic!
Did you know there is in history a B.A. (Before Aspirin) and an A.A. (After Aspirin)? There is! There was a time where there was no such thing as aspirin.
I was wondering this week how people survived before there was aspirin and other medicines.
In our culture we have learned that we don’t have to feel pain or discomfort. All we have to do is take a pill or shoot some nasal spray up our noses or rub some cream or ointment on our skin and, most of the time, we feel better.
I don’t think that is a bad thing. In fact, I took some aspirin just this week. I believe God made the bark of willow trees and led someone to boil that and drink the broth (disclaimer: don’t try this at home) because He loves us and wanted us to have the medicine we needed.
I do, however, think that every single good thing God has done or has provided can be used improperly. When mankind fell in the Garden, disorder came into the world.
What has happened since Eden is that Man has fallen from his original state. Choosing to not go to the Tree of Life, which represents trusting the Holy Spirit, he has come into his life at birth knowing nothing but the flesh.
The flesh has to do with people trusting the things of the earth: themselves, their abilities and stuff, their ability to manipulate others….to provide for and to protect themselves. We do this because for us (outside of Christ), experientially, it’s like God isn’t even there.
For centuries mankind has turned to immoral sexual practices, the abuse of alcohol, natural substances being abused as narcotics and now have added pornography, man-made pharmaceuticals, adrenaline-fest activities, shop-til-you-drop….and on and on – in our efforts to bring a sensation of peace or comfort when we are stirred up.
The fruit of the Tree of Life was……..life….REAL life The “life” it supplied was real life…heavenly life – something the Bible calls “zoe” life. The other tree could never yield “zoe” life.
There are two root words in the Greek that are translated to the English word “life” in the Bible. One is “bios” and it refers to mere earthly life. It only satisfies our bodies and souls for a short while – then it goes away.
The other is “zoe” and it refers to a sustaining life that flows from the throne of heaven and it truly satisfies the soul (and sometimes the body) in lasting ways.
Seeking “bios” from earthly means has to be repeated over and over because it never lasts. When we choose, instead, to receive God’s “zoe” there is a sensation of complete satisfaction deep inside our souls. Many Christians, though, never sense it because we are so used to looking outside ourselves to the earth for satisfaction that we never focus on what God does inside us….starting in our human spirits and then flowing to our souls.
It starts when we are young….as babies. We cry and someone comes and feeds or holds us. We learn how to get “bios” from the earth – over and over again. Then we grow up and, usually, we stay lost for a long time.
For me it resulted in being lost for 30 years and unable to trust in anything but my flesh and the earth for comfort and satisfaction.
It never worked. NEVER.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Proverb 14:12)
We do things that we think will bring that sensation of being alive into our souls but, instead of life, it brings death – that sensation of emptiness and hopelessness. Sometimes it brings actual physical death.
It never works but it was all I knew so, before I belonged to Jesus, my efforts went to perfecting my flesh. We all do this. We learn louder, better, bigger ways to affect the people around us….so they will either stop hurting us or so they will give us what we think we need. We mine others for “bios” – and others mine us.
There is a verse that speaks to this:
“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ But if you bite and devour (gradually eat down) one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” (Galatians 5:14-15)
Imagine that. We go to others to fill ourselves but, they are doing the very same thing. In the end we devour one another. Why? Because the earth and the things of the earth are a closed system. If we do not go outside this system….all there is for us to consume is one another!
Then for all too few, salvation comes. A tiny minority of all humans will have, by the time it’s all over, received Jesus as their Lord. This makes me sad for the majority of all people and I handle that sadness by being ready to share the Lord with anyone who will listen.
I’m sad about the lost and about how those who choose to remain lost also choose to be in bondage to the things of the earth….which will never satisfy their cravings to really be loved, valued, accepted, have security and have a real sense of purpose. However, it makes me very happy that those who have received Jesus now have access to the Tree of Life again!
Please note that I said that we have access to the Tree of Life now, Who is the Holy Spirit. This means we have access to real, satisfying “zoe” life. That’s a wonderful thing; however it is an unfortunate truth that most Christians never go to that tree for routine sustenance.
So many of us seem to experience lives, instead, characterized by extreme discontentment. So many of us turn back to abusing alcohol, one another, drugs, pornography…..lifestyle sin. Why?
We read verses like this:
“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
But it seems we really do not believe them. Why do I say that?
Because so many of us still steal, lie, get drunk or high, hurt ourselves or others….all in the pursuit of satisfaction from which tree? We eat of any tree BUT the Tree of Life. We still turn to the earth for peace, comfort…..the satisfaction of the hungers and thirst in our souls – even though we have SO MUCH more available to us in Christ.
We know that Jesus said this in the second half of John 10:10:
“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
We know He said this:
“I am the bread of life.” (John 6:48)
We KNOW He said all this. We just don’t really care.
We know how to be “gods” with a small “G” in our own lives. We LOVE that we can move immediately to try to meet our own needs and protect ourselves. We LOVE that we don’t have to WAIT on God – we can get it NOW.
There is a word for this. That word is “LUST”.
Oswald Chambers, in his devotional book, “My Utmost For His Highest” defines lust this way: “Lust means ‘I must have it at once.’”
The heart cry of our flesh is this: “I WANT IT NOW!”
Some…maybe most of you…don’t know that I have a drug past. I’ve been clean for more than 30 years. I’m not proud of the fact that I have a drug past – but I’m not ashamed of it either. The person who did all that….died…with Christ. I’m a new creation!
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthian 5:17)
I’m one of those new creations and this me is not guilty of all that….so I’m not ashamed of it…but my body DID do it at the direction of the old me…and I remember that.
To anyone listening to me speak who might think, “Well, he did it and he’s okay….so maybe I can do it too…”
I want to urge you not to do what I did.
I have several friends who did what I did. They’re dead now. I have others who did what I did and they are addicted to drugs to this day.
I have friends who did what I did and they are clean….but might never stop thinking about themselves being anything but an addict. I have friends who did what I did and they are clean….but their brains and organs are breaking down far sooner than they are supposed to do that. Some are dying right now.
It has COST them DEEPLY. I did what I did and it has cost me a lot.
To this day I have SO MUCH trouble remembering people’s names….dates and phone numbers. I’m smart, but I hurt myself using drugs. I have a tendency to get sinus infections and that’s my own fault. It has COST ME so please don’t do it…just because I and others who used to use but have stopped seem to be doing just fine.
Why did I use all those drugs? Why did I get drunk all those times?
They felt good. We used to talk about having a “body high” or a “mind high.” I think I was really after what most drug users want: comfort for my soul and I wanted it NOW.
My question for my fellow Christians is this:
“Is how I acted then any different from how we behave now when we turn away from the Tree of Life…the Holy Spirit…for real life from God?”
It’s not different at all. We refuse to wait on Him…we love the world and the things of the world AND we want it NOW….and that’s lust!
“For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16)
The reason I used a variety of drugs that were available was that I could pick and choose how I would feel. I would try to fine tune the flesh tools available to me to try to bring myself relief – self-medicating my soul by bringing substances into my body.
The reality of it was that I was in touch with the pain in my own soul….not deeply…but enough to be able to know I was hurting and want to ease that pain. I think that this is true of most, if not all, drug users and heavy drinkers. It’s also true of gambling addicts, and adrenaline junkies of all kinds, and people who can’t stop using porn.
My desire was to take something from the outside world and draw it into my life in a desperate attempt to be lord of my own soul’s comfort and peace. I knew my drugs of choice for whatever was happening were available. I would let them sit there….until I needed them and then would think, “I need me some ________” and THEN
I would value that substance and put it to work in my life.
It’s easy for Christians to look at that logic and think, “That’s jacked up! SINNERS!!!” And it IS jacked up and it IS sin.
Yes. We’ll do that until someone applies that logic to what WE use to bring comfort into OUR own souls.
How much runaway spending is this very same dynamic in action?
How about people who spend WAY too much money on toys like boats and trucks or hobbies like hunting, fishing, racing….etc. …while their families do without – all in an effort to be god in their own souls? How about people who pursue the “perfect” man or woman because that person will satisfy their soul?
Aren’t all these things really the same thing at work in the lives of people? Don’t they all just amount to us trying desperately to ease our own soul hunger by taking something of the earth and trying to bring from the outside into our souls for pain relief?
Do you know what really grieves me….and I KNOW grieves God?
Many Christians use Jesus that VERY SAME WAY.
We ask Him into our lives for salvation so we will go to heaven
when we die. Then, far too often far too many of us put Him on a shelf. Some of us dust Him off and use Him only on Christmas Day and Easter Sunday. More of us use Him for an hour or so whenever we meet with other Christians for a worship event….and then back to the shelf Jesus goes.
We think, “I got this, Jesus. I’ll be back when I think I might need You.” Or, a crisis comes and things look really bad and we’ll run to Jesus and beg Him to touch us….to fix things…to make other people do what we want them to do.
Think about this. We will do with The King of Glory the EXACT same thing drug users and drunks do with their alcohol and drugs: we’ll think, “This is BAD. I need me some Jesus!”
And you know what? He’s ALWAYS there.
“And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)
Do you know there are another 7 verses in the Bible that assure us that Jesus will never leave nor forsake us? It is His nature to be consistent and loyal to us.
It is our sin nature….or flesh…to not be consistently loyal to Jesus.
It is our flesh that wishes to use Him as if He was just some drug and then cast Him aside like empty beer cans, empty pill bottles and little used up plastic bags.
JESUS IS NOT A DRUG!
To even have to write something like this grieves me because I KNOW I have used Him that way…and so have many of my brothers and sisters. We MUST stop this.
You know, He doesn’t mind that we come to Him. In fact, I think He loves it. He INVITES it:
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
He WANTS us to come to Him and loves that. I also believe that He HATES that we often ONLY come to Him when we THINK we need Him – when the truth is we ALWAYS need Him.
Jesus is not a drug.
He hates that we turn to things of the earth when we lust….when we have to have comfort NOW and when we treat Him like He was a drug…we are acting as if HE is just another thing of the earth that we want to take from the outside and bring into our own souls…behaving like little gods in our own lives.
He knows that:
“…the world is passing away, and the lust of it….” (1 John 2:17a)
He also knows the reality of rest of that verse:
“…but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:17b)
Jesus knows that we are commanded this:
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)
And He knows that this applies as well to when we use Jesus like He was merely something else in the world that we can love and use…..like a drug.
Jesus is NOT a drug. His will is that we come to Him as He is: as our Lord and as our God.
“…Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” (John 20:28)
Jesus loves us and it grieves Him that we repeatedly use Him and then put Him back on the shelf, not for His sake. It grieves Him because it HURTS us when we live like this.
It is His desire that we honor our commitment that we made when we proclaimed Him as our Lord. It is His desire that we never leave or forsake HIM. This is because He knows our soul hunger and thirst and He knows He is the ONLY true source of sustained life….”zoe” life….for us.
“For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. Then they said to Him, ‘Lord, give us this bread always.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.’” (John 6:33-35)
I once did a study of that word “believes” and it means more than to agree with some facts about something. It literally means to “be living” – in other words, Jesus was saying, “If you really LIVE in Me….you will never thirst and hunger”.
That doesn’t sound like a person who comes to Jesus when he thinks he needs Jesus and then walks away when he is done using Jesus like a drug. It sounds like a person who has come to grips with the FACT that he ALWAYS needs Jesus and has latched onto Him and will NEVER let go.
We’ve seen Jesus do things in our lives. Jesus said this to those who walked with Him and watched Him do things for three years:
“But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.” (John 6:36)
Are we going to be like that? OR, will we purpose in our hearts that we will snuggle up to Jesus and never let go?
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” (John 6:47)
The word translated as “everlasting” means “perpetual or continual.” If we want to experience continual zoe life, we MUST “be living Jesus” as a lifestyle.
“I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51)
I want to experience everlasting life. How about you?
There are some things we need to do if we are going to try to live this way and be successful at it.
We need to be honest with ourselves and with God
We need to confess that, at times, we have treated Jesus like He was a drug.
We need to confess how we did that specifically
We need to ask for His forgiveness
We need to receive that forgiveness
We need to repent of that
We need to announce to Him (and satan) that this won’t work anymore…that we intend to never live like that again.
We need to consciously and actively live trusting the Lord at all times.
I know that, thankfully, not everyone reading this article has had a drug or alcohol past. I hope, though, that you can identify with something written here today.
If not, perhaps you know someone who has come to Jesus only when they needed something. Maybe you can help them understand that there’s a better way to live as a Christian.
“….those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6)
There were two trees in the Garden. One yielded life and the other yielded death. They still exist today. The first is to entrust ourselves to God through His Spirit. The second is to trust in anything else.
Which will you choose?
“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”(Deuteronomy 30:19-20)
The land promised to us as Christians is the Kingdom of God…. right here…right now. In that land is REAL life.
It is my encouragement to you that you choose zoe life in Christ and nothing less!
Pastor Mike McInerney
Mike McInerney Ministries
© April 22, 2017
(originally presented as a sermon on November 23, 2014)
(For use with permission)