Hi everyone, Rob here.
Over the last few days I have been asking God for the ability to know what to say ‘yes’ to and what to say ‘no’ to. It’s a busy time in the church year, surprises are popping up, the occasional crisis (or imagined crisis) has emerged and I’m managing study commitments as well. I’m not overwhelmed by any means but I’m sensing the need for clear boundaries. Most of all I want those boundaries to be God-given ones. I don’t my ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to be arbitrary. I’m sure most of you have been in this situation. This is normal life, right?
It was certainly the situation that Jesus faced all the time. Luke 5:15-16 describes the situation just after Jesus has healed a leper and told him not to tell anyone that Jesus had healed him (how’s that for a marketing strategy!).
Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
But just in case you thought that Jesus avoided the crowds,Luke 9:10-11 says this:
When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.
I heard a quote from Rob Bell the other day that went something like this; “You don’t know what to say no to until you know what you’re saying yes to.” For example, if I have said ‘yes’ to saving up for a family holiday, I’m going to say ‘no’ to spending money on a house extension. That’s a relatively straightforward choice but most of the choices we face are more relational and messy than that. Do you invite your aging parents to come and live with you? Do you help your dysfunctional friend with a loan? Do you commit yourself to leading a small group or is your heart leaning towards helping young people? Then there are the choices where people ask us to rescue them: Can you pick my kid up? Can you come round right now, I need you? What a maze! We need Jesus to help us urgently.
Jesus navigated his world of political chaos, religious corruption, poverty, economic oppression and confusion about God with deep trust in and reliance on his Father. In John 14:31 Jesus says that he loves the Father and does “exactly what my Father has commanded me.” This is the invitation; to walk with Jesus, learning to trust the Father as he did and live our lives the way Jesus would live them if he were us (thanks Dallas Willard).
For Jesus this meant times of silence and solitude or it would mean teaching and healing many even if that meant skipping meals. It meant taking the disciples away on retreats or it meant releasing them to heal and cast out demons themselves. It meant healing on a Sabbath in full view of the authorities or it meant telling those who were healed to keep it quiet. It meant enjoying a party with friends or it meant dying on a cross at the hands of his enemies. Jesus’ life wasn’t about balance! It was about priorities. It was about obedience. It was about doing what the Father needed him to do at any given moment. He said yes to God and his plan so he said no to all the plans that others were hatching on his behalf. Some wanted to make him king, others wanted him to form an army, some wanted power of their own but he said no to all of them. He had said yes to the cross, yes to the suffering he needed to undertake and yes to the needs of God’s kingdom.
Yet not what I will, but what you will
May that be our commitment, our prayer and our desire. We say yes to God because he said yes to us.