God is Calling
Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!
What I get out of the bible, I think, depends a lot on what I am looking for when I read it. I do not mean to say that its meaning is relative. I am saying that which I take from it is dynamic, depending on the question I am asking.
I once read through the new testament wrestling with the idea of God’s sovereignty versus man’s free will. Identifying every passage that had something to do with the issue, I came across this verse and identified it as one of my favorites. I came to know it as a passage that I could use against those who felt that God’s sovereignty meant that man had no choice.
That was several years ago and my interests have changed significantly since. I no longer read the bible trying to figure out how to argue with Calvinists. I now read the bible trying to pursue God and to understand what Jesus’ words mean to me. When life fell apart in 2014, I looked at my existence and realized that my understanding of sovereignty and free will meant little. My behavior was completely inconsistent with that which I claimed to believe. I was a monstrous hypocrite and what little understanding I had of predestination was of no consequence.
I had a colossal me problem and I did not know what it meant. How could a Christian act like this? Why did God not answer my prayers to magically change me? Is God real? Am I a Christian? Suddenly, I read the bible with an entirely different purpose. I had a desperate need and in that need, I desperately sought God. I needed to know him in my life and I needed to understand what He had been trying to tell me.
Therein lies the deep meaning of this verse to me now. Jesus, in the passage, had just addressed the Pharisees, who bitterly opposed him. His lament was that of a father, longing for his children to return his love, only to receive their hatred and opposition.
I am sure those Pharisees could discuss weighty theological issues. They could probably could quote numerous passages regarding God’s sovereignty. However, they did not follow Jesus and they did not follow God. Jesus desired to draw them to himself, but they were not willing. All their knowledge of God failed to translate into knowing him in an intimate relationship.
God longs for me to know him in a profoundly personal relationship. When I read the bible now, I picture Christ sitting next to me, talking to me. If I described the actual scene, you would laugh, but my point is, I now read his words trying desperately to understand exactly what He is saying to me. Jesus is calling me, longing for me. It is my purpose to respond to his call. There is nothing standing between God and me except for me.