That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. John 20:19
We are told that Joseph of Arimathea had been a “secret disciple” because of his fear of the Jewish leaders until Jesus died on the cross. He then came out in the open as He felt God’s call in his life to care for the body of Jesus. Now we see that the public disciples of Jesus had become secret disciples because of their fear of the Jewish leaders once Jesus died on the cross.
Joseph of Arimathea responded to the life of Christ with fear and the need to follow Him in secrecy as a disciple. The 12 disciples responded to the life of Christ with boldness to follow Him publicly wherever He went. Joseph of Arimathea responded to the cross of Jesus with boldness and the need to follow Him publicly no matter the consequences. The 12 disciples responded to the cross of Jesus with fear and the need to follow Him in secrecy as disciples.
The beautiful thing about the story of Jesus is that it does not end on the cross. As the 12 were shaking with fear behind closed doors, Jesus appeared and gave them peace. He does the same thing today when we face the cross. We all need a time of “secrecy” to face our fears because we all have fears. The cross is the flashpoint for every would be disciple of Jesus. In physical chemistry, the flashpoint is the lowest temperature at which a liquid in a specified apparatus will give off sufficient vapor to ignite momentarily on application of a flame. In life a flashpoint is a critical point or stage at which something or someone suddenly causes or creates some significant action. In our walk with God, the flashpoint is the cross which demands a response to His infinite love.
We read in 1 John 4:18 that “perfect love casts out all fear.” The casting out part can be painful, however. I suspect it was as painful for Joseph of Arimathea before the cross as it was for the 12 after the cross. But to allow God’s love to find a resting place in our hearts and bring us the peace we desperately seek, we must face our fears and allow His love to cast them out. And it is at the cross of Jesus that we see God’s love demonstrated and offered to us. When we take a hard look at the cross, we see God’s love, but we also see our depravity.
When I come to the cross of Jesus, I will follow Him to the extent that I face my fears and give them to Him. The good news is that He comes to us in our fears and gives us the courage, insight, and love to cast them out of our lives. This is the flashpoint for every disciple of Jesus. Every disciple of Jesus must face her fears at the cross of Jesus, and then taken up her cross to follow Him. The flashpoint is the cross. It changes everything because love wins. Love always wins.
Have you come to the cross? Is it your flashpoint in life? Have you identified your fears, given them to Jesus, and discovered the peace He offers?
It was time to buy a third car for the family. Sally and Kelsey had their drivers licenses and Eric Jr would be turning that age soon. I decided a VW Passat would be the perfect solution for our travel needs. I purchased a basic model at a good price. It wasn’t until several months later when driving the car into Chicago that I realized the reason for the “good” price – the size of the engine. I had not noticed the lack of power driving around town. But when I drove it on the highway and needed acceleration to get around trucks and maneuver in the traffic around Chicago, the car’s lack of power was obvious. If you’re going to change lanes in Chicago, you better have the power to do it!
Life is the same way. We too often find ourselves with habits, character flaws, and even addictions we want to change. But when we find ourselves with the power of my Passat, we feel trapped in our lane with everyone passing us by. Without the necessary power, there is no hope to change lanes on the highways through Chicago or the highway of life we are traveling right now. Yes, power is the key to change. The real issue is where you find the power. Do you find it in “doing” or in “being”?
Those of us who want to change a behavior by doing make the fatal mistake of focusing on behavior. This approach leads us to believe that if you simply tell yourself to change, then change will happen. You don’t need anyone else, you can simply change on your own. With this approach, you simply need to do the right thing, do the desired behavior. The issue with doing in order to change is that it ignores the primary issue of stop doing what is causing you the problem in the first place. Yes, in order to change it always involves stopping the undesired behavior. In our car analogy, this is when you stop driving in your current lane. But you need power to cease being in the same lane of life!
The truth is that you need to focus on “being” if you really want to change. This approach recognizes the power of the unwanted behavior is rooted within your own beliefs. This is because what you believe drives how you behave. Being determines doing! So what you really need is to discover the misbelief you are harboring deep within yourself that is creating the unwanted behavior in the first place. By focusing on “being” you are acknowledging the fact that there is power in belief. This is why Jesus says, “I am the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Discover Him. Be with Him. And you will have all the power you need to change lanes on the highway of life.
I’ll talk about this at our 11:00am (PST) service on Saturday, May 11, 2013. Or you can listen to it on our website, http://www.myrichlandchurch.org by May 13.