Over the weekend a group of us gathered together to watch The Passion of the Christ as a prelude to our Resurrection Day celebration. Afterward we talked about it, and agreed that the whole time you're watching it, you're thinking doctrine. ("Doctrine" referring to the principles of the word of God that we have learned.) In celebrating Communion, part of the purpose is to bring into remembrance Jesus's spiritual death on the cross, His victory over Satan, and His Resurrection. Even though I wish every time that the movie would have brought in the deep supernatural darkness that covered the hill from noon to three when He was actually bearing the world's sins, it still does a phenomenal job of bringing what He did to remembrance. It gives you a visual picture, a taste of the fact that this was a real event, that this person was a real person, a real man who, because I have believed in Him, now lives inside me. Even as He's seated at the Father's right hand in heaven.
To think that it really happened, and that He did it for me is worthy of extended contemplation. As is the fact that everything in the movie still isn't as bad as it actually was (his face totally disfigured beyond even looking human, his clothing stripped away, his beard plucked out) or as bad as the last three hours of the ordeal, when he was being made sin for us on that cross.
To think He went through all that using the same power available to me now as a church age believer (the power of the Holy spirit, the power of the word...) is mind-boggling. It shouts of the need to take our spiritual lives very seriously, and not to squander the power we've been given.
To ask yourself if, after someone pays that kind of price to buy you out of a slave market, would you, the moment you stepped out of that market and into his possession, then run off on your own initiative gathering flowers to give him as thanks? Or rush about telling others what he's done? You're a slave. You aren't supposed to be running around. You're supposed to be with your master, whom you barely even know at that point.
Shouldn't you, if you are truly grateful for what He's done and aware that you are a slave, bought at a terrible price - shouldn't you want to focus on him intently to see what kind of man he is? What his likes and dislikes are? What he wants you to do? And only then go off to do his bidding?
Since He's invisible to us now, and we have only His word as our visible means of contact, doesn't it make sense to focus on what He said in it? All of it? If He is the creator and ruler of the Universe, and all other areas of study and inquiry into the workings of that Universe (physics, astronomy, biology, mathematics, etc.) are complex, big and full of hidden truth, doesn't it seem logical that the Bible is even more so? Something more worthy of greater study than any other discipline known to man? Indeed, how could there be any area more complex, more mysterious, more difficult to grasp, yet more vital to our lives, than the study of who God is and what He'd done for us?
And, no matter how excited or grateful one might feel, to run off immediately after salvation with the intent of doing great things for Him puts the cart before the horse. His thoughts are not ours, after all. What if your great things not what He wants?
In fact, I don't believe that is what He wants. He is the one who does the great things. We are the ones who receive them. We have to have the humility to realize that we don't know very much about Him, especially right after salvation. And just relying on what we think or what others might tell us, without looking to see if His word agrees seems a dangerous course of action to me. It presumes much that should not be presumed.
Hence the need to sit down and study His word from someone who can teach you -- your pastor who was given to equip the saints for the work of service. You study and wait until the Lord decides you're ready and moves you out into whatever area of service He has for you. And even then, it's Him who does the great things. Not us. As we are saved so we walk -- by faith, not by sight, not by the law, not by works.