It's hard to hear the truth about ourselves, isn't it? I mean, do you wake up every morning praying, "Lord, please bring someone into my path today who will tell me the blunt truth of my shortcomings?" I'm quite certain you do not pray that prayer. However, if you and I will experience true and lasting transformative change, it will come through a confrontation of the truth. The truth of my sin, my faults, the ways I've harmed myself and others by my own hand, and the reality of the consequences I'm suffering because of my own choices.
Hard to hear.
So, in an age where you and I are less likely to accept responsibility for anything we do, we prefer to be counseled by Jesus in the THIRD PERSON. In other words, Jesus is free to speak about a topic, like the need to forgive, but Jesus is NOT free to speak about a lack of forgiveness IN ME. We prefer a Jesus who speaks about things indirectly to us.
There's a huge problem with this: People don't change.
In my years of public speaking as a pastor, I have learned that people will listen to an indirect, third-person, idea about a generalized condition, but get seriously offended if you point out that the condition of which you speak is present in them. I see meme after meme on social media saying "Be Jesus today." I'm sure I've said it myself. But are we prepared for a version of Jesus that counsels in the FIRST PERSON? Directly, not indirectly, is the way of Jesus.
To the Pharisees He says, "Your father is the devil..."
To the Disciples He says, "Are you still so dull..."
To the Woman at the Well He says, "You've had five husbands..."
To the Crowd He says, "You only follow me because you ate and had your fill..."
To Jerusalem He says, "You were unwilling..."
To Peter He says, "You will deny me three times..."
Jesus isn't going to lie to us or flatter us, nor is He going to speak about our condition indirectly in the third person. He will speak to me, about me, truthfully, honestly, directly, bluntly, and lovingly.
One thought about the "love" factor. Is it loving for me to never tell you the truth because I might offend you? Was Jesus not loving when He spoke all those things above? Of course He was loving... so much so, that He tells the truth, because the truth leads to true and everlasting change. Truth delivers while flattery and indirectness allows us to continue in our errors.
Today, be Jesus to someone you love, and let Jesus be Jesus to you because He loves you.
Let our counseling be in the first person, not the third.
Psalms 42:5 NIV Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Whenever we are troubled our first instinct is to look externally to every person, detail, condition, and/or circumstance around us. But, is the trouble in our soul really due to something outside of us, or inside of us? The psalmist got it right when he asks the questions in Psalms 42:5. He asks, "Why so disturbed within me?" Today, most people, and indeed many Christ-followers that I witness, change the question into a statement, and the blame is always placed on something or someone else. "I know why I'm so disturbed within me and it's you or that or this!"
Stop blaming. Start looking within.
The antidote for this spiritual disturbance is placing our hope in God, and praising God. That's really not meant to be an oversimplified answer. It is actually quite deep if you'll allow it to be. Today, we Americans live in a culture of disturbance. Everyone is disturbed about something and everyone has the right to be disturbed about anything. Perturbed, disturbed, aggravated, cynical, anxious, worried, tense... these are all unhealthy constants that have been welcomed into the culture today. The psalmist recognized his inner disturbance and sought a solution. Do you recognize your inner disturbance(s)? Do you want a solution or do you want to throw more gas on the fire?
You, and only you, can face your own disturbances and subject them to the will of God in Christ Jesus. You, and only you, can take captive every thought. You, and only you, can instigate the antidotes of hope and praise to cease the illness caused by your inner disturbances.
Stop blaming. Stop complaining. Start hoping. Start praising.
Psalm 42 begins with a very well-known passage:
Psalms 42:1-2 NIV As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. (2) My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
Look within. Look to God. Yearn for Him. Thirst for Him. Be un-disturbed. Be unburdened of your needless troubles. Do not follow the world's ways for parading your disturbances.
How would your life be different if you emitted the essence of hope and praise instead of disturbed, disgruntled, disgusted, dis-eased?
Brett Heintzman is passionate about the spiritual formation of God's people. These writings are designed to draw us close to God and to help us live out of the riches of His presence. It's all about being in the world but not of the world.