Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Approval of God

"Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue, for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God." (John 12:42-43 NASB)

I'm drawn to that verse because even though I want God's approval, I still struggle with wanting approval from people... that's actually been one of the recurring "themes" for me during this 21 Days of Consecration. I want to do God's will, but I recognize that even if I start something with the right heart, it's easy for me to turn it into a dry routine or performance for others.

That's why the story of Mary anointing Jesus' feet with costly perfume is a little difficult for me. I usually come away from that story feeling a little guilty, because it's always held up as an example of extravagant worship, an encouragement to do bold things in worship without worrying about the opinions of others. I'm just not very "expressive" in worship. I can completely relate to her desire to make a great sacrifice for God... but ironically, I wonder sometimes if my sacrifices measure up in the eyes of others. So it is difficult for me to look to Mary as a role model.

But this morning I noticed another aspect of this chapter that just hadn't jumped out at me before. It wasn't Mary's expression of worship that most angered the Jewish leaders -- they probably couldn't care less. The one who REALLY got under their skin was Lazarus!

"The large crowd of the Jews then learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead. But the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death also; because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and were believing in Jesus." (John 12:9-11 NASB)

What an awesome testimony... to have a life so changed by Jesus that it would make others want to believe in Him! Lazarus couldn't raise himself from the dead, so this wasn't about a performance for him. It was about being a living testimony of God's power -- a life so radically changed that no one but God could get the credit.

That's what I want: a testimony based not on what I do, but on the transformation that only God could do in my life!

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