I’ve been teaching a Bible study for quite some time now. At the start of 2014 I felt passionate about conveying something the Lord put on my heart. I’ve voiced it to the women in my study. And, today, I want to share it with you.
Over the last few years I’ve grown in the word of God more than ever before. I have an expanding appetite for the Bible as well as the life examples of the people in it.
I’m a parent of small children. All parents can identify with the fascination children hold for the fictional characters they love. Whether it’s a Disney princess, Jake and the Pirate, or Big Bird, kids hold them dear. Adults also have their own set of fictional characters they become attached to. Over time, children and adults alike, move on to something else to keep their interest.
When Matthew died on Downton Abbey most of the country mourned with Lady Mary as if they were living it with her. (And, yes, I’m one of these people.) However, all this started me thinking. How often do we treat the stories and people in the Bible as fictional? How often do we look at their lives as nice stories with do’s and don’ts to live by rather than remember they were real, flesh and blood people? God created them in His image. The same way He created us.
You see, I’m over Matthew Crawley’s death. Lady Mary now has other suitors which are thickening the plot. However, I don’t ever want to get over the stories in the Bible. I want to be so strongly connected that I think of them always as dear friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. They have been there, done that, and can teach me from their Holy Spirit inspired lives. God worked through them with mighty purpose. I want them to serve as reminders that if He could use their lives, then He can use mine also.
I don’t want to look at Esther, the Apostle Paul, James the half brother of Jesus, or anyone else in the Bible as mere characters in a fictional fairytale. They were real. The words that left their lips, through Holy Spirit inspired writings, live on today. And I think, sometimes, we have a tendency to forget that their hearts used to beat just like ours.
Last week I was reading John chapter 21. The interaction between Peter and Jesus spoke to me deeply.
Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” 19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”
This was the third time Jesus showed Himself to the disciples after the resurrection. It is such a beautiful passage because in John 21:15-17, right before Jesus said the above words to Peter, He gave Peter an opportunity to tell Him he loved Him three times. This is no coincidence since Peter had previously denied Jesus three times before the crucifixion. Jesus restored peter at that moment, and then gave him commands as of what to do. “Feed My lambs.” “Tend My sheep.” “Feed My sheep.”
And after He gives Peter assurance that He is going to use His life for the glory of The Living God, He essentially tells him in John 21:18-19, (And, I’m paraphrasing)“You are going to die for Me. It’s going to be painful. Follow Me anyway.”
Tradition tells us Peter was crucified upside down in Rome. And because I knew that, as I read the above passage, tears streamed down my face. All I could hear in my mind was the echoing sounds of Jesus telling Peter, “Follow me.”
When we truly connect ourselves to the people in the Bible and stop looking at them as “characters” in a story, our hearts to open wide to the lessons God has for us.
I want to encourage you to study the word while remembering that Christ has a plan to work through you. He wants to work in your heart and through your life. No matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been, He can, and will, use your life to bring Him glory. You have the opportunity to bless others. Peter denied Christ and yet He restored and used him mightily.
You were created to bring Him glory. You have worth because He is worthy. Allow Him to be more than just a character in a story. If you believe in Him, if you’ve accepted His life as truth, then He is very much alive in you.
You have a calling!
Fulfill your ministries, friends!