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Monday, January 25, 2021

All You Ever Need

I heard a funny joke the other day.  It went something like this.  A smug Princeton professor was flying from to Kansas to visit his parents.  The man seated next to him said hello and extended a friendly calloused hand.  “My name's George.  It’s my first time flying!  What’s your name?”  

“You can call me Doctor Edwards,” was his annoyed reply.  “So you’re a doctor?  Have you ever saved a life?”  

“Not that kind of doctor.  I have a PhD in physics.”  

“Oh!  I didn't know physics needed doctors! Wow!  You must be pretty smart!  I never went to college.  I’m a pig farmer.”  

The professor rolled his eyes and hoped the man wouldn’t keep talking the whole way to Kansas, but the man continued, “Say.  How’s about we play a game.  You ask me a question about physics and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll give you $5.  Then I’ll asks you a question and if you can’t answer, since you're so much smarter, you give me $50. ”  

Well, the pay out was a bit lopsided, but the professor was really smart and figured he could easily win this contest of wits. “Alright,” he said. “As light from a star spreads out and weakens, do gaps form between the photons?”  

“Shucks!  That’s a good one.  I don’t rightly know.  Well, you got me!  Here’s five bucks.”  He handed over the money and the professor thought this was going to be too easy, but then the pig farmer asked his question.  “What’s the name of the bacteria in a pigs gut that helps it digest it’s dinner?”  

Now the professors was a little concerned.  He hesitated a moment and then said, “I don’t know.  Here’s $50.”  

“Thanks!”  The farmer said.  

Then the professor asked, “So what is the name of the bacteria inside a pigs gut that helps it digest it’s dinner?”  

The farmer grinned, “Man you’re good!  I don’t know.  Here’s five more bucks.”  

And that my friends is the difference between wisdom and knowledge!

Wisdom is often gained through experience. The world has its own kind of wisdom, gained through life experience.  Jesus has another kind of wisdom--the wisdom of the ages gained through eternity.  For Jesus is the Word of God. John 1:1 says, "In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God." The world had its own wisdom, but God's wisdom is infinitely better. 

The Most Important Thing is to Have Roof Over Your Head…
One bit of worldly wisdom says: "The most important thing is to have a roof over your head and food on your table." That's pretty practical. On the one had, it reminds us about two of our most basic needs--food and shelter. It would be incredibly foolish to spend all you money on fancy clothes and the newest smart phone if you don't have any food to eat or place to live.  I have know a few fools who actually lived that way and you just want to shake them and say, "Come on man! The most important thing is to have a roof over your head and food on your table!" 

This tidbit of worldly wisdom can also serve as an admonition to live a simple life.  In other words, you don’t need a bunch of material things—computers, cars, gadgets, etc.  All you need is a roof over your head and food on your table and you will be fine.  That’s a good reminder, especially for those of us who live in an opulent age that says we always have to have more bigger and better things.

What did Jesus Say?
I’m always more interested in what Jesus said than what the world says.  I am a Christian, after all, and I follow Jesus.  Jesus calls all Christians the same way he called his first disciples in the New Testament.  He comes to us and says, “Come, follow me.” (Matthew 4:19).  So, what did Jesus say?

Matthew 4:4
But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Matthew 8:20
But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”

We Have Deep Spiritual Need
If humans were merely animals (as some evolutionists in our modern times believe), the world’s wisdom would be enough.  All animals need to survive is their basic biological needs fulfilled.  But humans are more than animals.  We were created by God for a relationship with Him.  By the Word of God, humanity was created.  His words breathed life into our bodies.  And so, even after our basic needs for food and shelter are met, we yearn for something more.  It is precisely this deep yearning inside that often drives people to neglect tending their basic need to “have a roof over our head and food on our table” and foolishly chase after luxuries like fancy cars or clothes or gadgets and nick-nacks.  So many people—perhaps you—are addicted to buying things or even pursuing relationship because they feel a deep emptiness inside and hope that next new thing or that next new relationship will fill a void somewhere inside. 

Humans obviously have needs that go beyond food and shelter.  Yet, even friendships and romantic relationships don’t completely fulfill us.  For even people who have all there material needs met, many good friends, and a happy marriage still feel something is missing.  What is this deep need we have, deep in our soul?

Jesus said, “People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  You might think that was easy for Jesus to say, but what if he were starving because he got laid of from work and didn’t have money to put food on his table?  Well, actually, Jesus lived in a time and place where most people struggled just to survive and ut food on the table.  Jesus said these words after fasting for 40 days.  Have you ever gone without eating for 40 days?  Jesus did and at the end of it, he affirmed this eternal truth:  People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.  Humans were made for a personal relationship with God so close we hear His words.  And that relationship comes through Jesus, whom John 1:1 says is the Word of God.

Following Jesus Changes Everything
One would think then, if we have a roof over our head and food on our table and we have a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus, we would be all set.  But then Jesus calls us to follow Him and when we come after Jesus he says in Matthew 8:20, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” What’s that all about?

From the moment Jesus began his public mission to save the world, he’s been calling people to follow him.  As we follow him, we find the Word of God which is the Bread of Life—that thing that finally satisfies the deep longing in our souls.  Yet the three years of His earthly ministry, Jesus didn’t have a home.  He literally didn’t have a roof over his head (unless he stayed under the roof of a friends house).  Jesus was homeless.  Foxes had dens, and birds had nest, be Jesus didn’t.  And if you followed Jesus in the New Testament, it meant you weren’t going to have a place to lay your head either.  

That was 2,000 years ago.  What about now?  Are Christians called to be homeless now?  Of course not; most Christians are not homeless.  There may be some who are called to special ministries that require them to give up their homes to do the Lord’s work.  However, the vast majority of Christians who faithfully follow Jesus don’t have to abandon the “roof over their head.”  

Still, choosing to follow Jesus as your Lord requires a shift in your world-view and your priorities.  Your worldview changes when you realize your “roof” is not really your roof.  It’s the Lord’s roof.  He’s not coming to stay at your house.  You now realize, you are living in His house.  Let that sink in…

Furthermore, when you follow Jesus as your Lord, your priorities change.  Before Jesus was your Lord, the most important thing was to have a “roof over your head and food on your table.”  But now, the most important thing is to follow the Lord.  And if you are faithful to Your Lord, you will follow Him anywhere—even at the expense of the roof over your head.  This change in attitude and priorities goes against the world’s prevailing wisdom.  But as the Word of God says in 1 Corinthians 1:25, “This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.”

The world has been through some crazy times over the last year.  The COVID-19 pandemic revealed just how vulnerable we are.  People have lost jobs.  Businesses have closed.  Supply chains were broken. Doctors and experts were baffled by a virus that gives one person the sniffles and the next one ends up on a ventilator in an ICU and then dies. 

It’s scary to think of your own vulnerability as you find out you can't count on the thing you always thought were sure.  I hope the events of this last year help you turn to something greater than what the world offers.  I hope you turn to God through Jesus Christ.  Because in Jesus, you will find God will take care of you no matter what comes your way.  Even if you find yourself without a roof over your head or food on your table, God will take care of you.  Even if you find yourself in an ICU dying (we will all die of something someday), God will take care of you.  Through Jesus, you have the hope of eternal life forever with the Word of God—your truest need.  Jesus is calling, but will you decide to follow him today?

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