«      »

When Jesus practiced deception

By Jim Barringer

Right after Jesus’ resurrection, two of Jesus’ disciples – we’re not told who – were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a town about seven miles away. While they were walking, Jesus appeared to them, but something funny happened: “their eyes were kept from recognizing him,” according to Luke 24:16. He proceeded to explain to them all about his death and resurrection. Once they finally got to Emmaus, which means a walk of at least two and a half hours and probably more, Jesus “acted as if he was going further.” It wasn’t enough for him to mess with their heads so they couldn’t figure out who he was; once he was finished messing with their heads, he intentionally deceived them into thinking he was going to keep walking, until they begged him to stick around and talk with them.

To me, this is the essence of what it means for us to go through a trial. God, being God, obviously knows that everything we experience will work together for our good. He orchestrates our whole life so that nothing we encounter will be too much for us to bear, and so that everything will be valuable to him in helping us become more like Jesus. Come on, he even told us the happy ending to the entire universe in the last two chapters of the Bible. He could quite easily, if he wanted to, tell us exactly how our current trial is going to work out for our good and how we’ll even someday be glad it happened to us. Why doesn’t he?

In a way, he practices deception on us quite often. He pretends he’s not listening to us, or pretends he’s not going to help with our problem. He allows us to keep on thinking things are terrible and that surely there’s no happy ending to whatever we’re currently facing. Like the two folks in Jesus’ story, we stumble along through our trials, and although God is right next to us, we’re completely oblivious, because he’s hiding himself instead of, you know, doing his God-things the way we want him to. He sounds a bit like a jerk when I put it that way.

Why on earth would he be this way? I think the answer is not whether we get through our trials, but how. He tells us in Scripture what kind of people we’re supposed to be, in a passage called the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Our lives are to be characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, and so on. What that means is, we’re to choose those things no matter what circumstances are going on in our lives. Someone who chooses love only when it’s easy or convenient is not a loving person at all, but merely a pragmatist.

The only problem is, how do we know whether or not we’re loving? How do we know whether we choose love only when it’s easy, or if we can do it when it’s hard too? Literally the one and only way to find this out is to experience a situation where it’s hard. This is commonly called a trial. Trials are, quite obviously, not for God’s benefit, as he knows well in advance what we’re going to do. They’re for our benefit, to find out what kind of people we really are, to discover where we need improving, to measure ourselves against God’s standard and see if we have what it takes.

This is what author Steven Covey calls “proactivity.” We choose what kind of people we’re going to be – Fruit of the Spirit kind of people – and carry out those things no matter what circumstances, emotions, or other people’s opinion tell us. Although God knows that every situation is under his control and will be good for us, he intentionally chooses to let us see them as dangerous and uncertain. This is the essence of faith: choosing to believe and trust, independent of all variables.

In the case of the two disciples on the road, the test was how they would respond when this fascinating man pretended he was going to roll on. How hungry were they to hear more about the Scriptures and the Messiah? Were they still willing to open their hearts to such a thing just three days after seeing their beloved Jesus crucified? The answer was yes, and by calling Jesus’ bluff and asking them to remain with them, they were treated to a vision of the truth, that Jesus was resurrected and in front of them. The impact on them was so strong that they hoofed it the whole seven miles right back to Jerusalem – again, bare-minimum of two and a half hours – to tell everyone else what they’d seen.

If you only have faith in God when things are easy, then you have no faith. Yet how do you know whether you have faith when things are hard and when God seems absent? Only by encountering such a time. This requires that God deceive you; although he is with you all the time, he has to pretend that he isn’t, so that you know, because the test is for your benefit, what your faith is really made of.

This is why we say the relationship with God is exactly that, a relationship or a walk, so much more than merely following a set of rules. It’s about being proactive, choosing priorities, being a certain kind of person no matter what life throws at you. It’s about walking with God when it looks like God is dead and buried. One day, the apostle Paul says, we will look forward to the time when faith will not be necessary, when our faith will be our eyes, but shouldn’t it discourage us a little bit that faith will be impossible in heaven? If we don’t have faith here on earth, if we never lean on God through the tough times here, it will be eternally too late because there will be no more tough times. Either you lean on God through this trial or you forever miss the chance. Whatever is going on in your life, however absent God appears right now, your eyes are merely deceived. Have faith and be strong, and discover – as God knows – how strong your faith already is.

Jim Barringer is a 27-year-old writer, musician, and teacher serving at The Church of Life (.com) in Orlando, FL. More of his work can be found at facebook.com/jmbarringer and ExtantMagazine.com. This work may be reprinted for any purpose so long as this bio and statement of copyright is included.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERSMAKE A WEBSITE

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  • Stay Up to Date with TheHolyStory News!
    Get Your TheHolyStory News here!
    * indicates required
  • Categories
  • Search the Net from here!
    Custom Search
WP Flex by WP Queen
Wordpress theme developed by Simpler Computing and others - Wordpress and WPMU Plugins, custom code and more.