One of my favorite things about reading through entire passages of Scripture is coming across little verses hidden in the text that I had never noticed before. Today, the Lord had me in John 6, and verse 43 caught me by surprise:
“But Jesus replied, ‘Stop complaining about what I said.'”
Well, that gets straight to the point, doesn’t it? As Jesus looks at our world, especially His Church, and sees so much division, don’t you think He turns to us, His followers, with love, firmness, a touch of exasperation, and a dash of sass and says, “Stop complaining about what I said”?
He reminded me very plainly of some of the things He asks of us, even those things that are hard to swallow and even harder to carry out:
Love people, even the ones who look or believe or act nothing like you do. Pray for people, even the government leaders you don’t agree with, the boss who treats you unfairly, and yes, even the terrorists intent on destroying and harming. (Remember how an encounter with Jesus turned Paul, a terrorist, into one of the world’s greatest missionaries.) Forgive people, no matter how much you’d prefer to get revenge or how badly they hurt you. Above all, take up your cross, die to your own desires every day, and follow Jesus.
That’s right. Die to yourself. What a controversial calling in our me-centered culture. If you choose to call yourself a Christian, you bear the name of Christ. You live by His Spirit. Your thoughts, preferences, dreams, comfort, safety, and even your very life must be left as an offering at the foot of the cross for the Lord’s glory and for the sake of the world He loves. Those souls you serve will be the ones you call brother and sister in heaven. They are worth more than anything you could collect in this life. In Jesus’ own words, what good is it for someone to gain all the world has to offer but give up their soul?
Stop complaining about what Jesus said, and just do it. Do it as a child whose Father wants them to be free from rules and religion. Do it as one loved more than you’ll ever know by a God who died to know you. Don’t let complaining rob you of your identity.
Remember who you are.