Putting Your Faith Where it Belongs
One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” John 5:5-7
This is an interesting story. Apparently there was some legend or wives tale that every year if some pool got stirred up, the first person in that needed healing would be healed. The paralyzed guy in this story had bought in to it big time. This guy had Jesus, the one who made his legs, asking him if he wanted to be healed. Jesus was right there with him, but instead of looking to Jesus, he looked to the place. A place that needed two things: A stirring of the water, and a person to put him in.
I remember when I first got saved that I was an “anointing chaser.” I wanted to go to the churches that were “on fire.” I went to a bunch of them. If I didn’t “feel” something, I just wrote it off as some “traditional” church that wasn’t “with it.” I realize now that I only wanted to be at places where the water was stirred up. I believe a lot of people are doing this today and have been doing this a long time. There are so many people leaving this church to go to that church. Somebody did something that someone didn’t like so now it’s time to join a new church or start their own church. Just like the story, Jesus is there the whole time, but people aren’t looking to Him, they are looking for the next “stirring of the waters.”
One of the first religious memories burned into my mind is Jimmy Swaggart crying on television because “I have sinned.” I also remember him calling Jim Baker* a “cancer to the body of Christ.” After everything got settled down, Jimmy had lost about 80% of his followers. Many of these just wrote Christians off as a bunch of “hypocrites” and stopped attending church altogether. What was the problem? Just like in John 5, Jesus was there the whole time, but people were looking for the man who could place them in those stirred up waters. Nobody could stir them quite like Jimmy Swaggart. Even watching him today…he’s really good.
So what is the point of all this? You do need to find a church where you genuinely like the people. The people at your church should absolutely strive to live a clean life that points to the Lord Jesus Christ. If the preacher is great, that’s nice, but he won’t always be the preacher. What are you going to do when he is no longer in the pulpit? If the music is jam up and totally stirs those waters, that’s nice, but that should be secondary to your relationship with Jesus. We must be looking to Him first, then look at the physical place that we attend church. If you want to find something bad about your church, it doesn’t take long at all to find it. If you can’t find anything bad, just give it time…you will. I’ve already had plenty of people “un-friend’ me, and all I do is write a one-page devotional every week. The only reason I can think of is that they must disagree with something I believe, say, or do. It doesn’t really matter, imperfect people will always eventually disappoint.
However, there is one relationship that you can develop that will never disappoint. Jesus is more than willing to provide everything you need Himself. No need to find a place with a dynamic speaker who can stir those waters to make you feel better. Jesus Himself is more than willing to do it.
Go to church. Hang out with people who will challenge you constantly in your faith. But, put your hope and trust in Jesus…only in Jesus.
* Jim Baker’s book “I Was Wrong” is one of the best books I have ever read. If you remember anything about the “scandalous” PTL days of the 80’s, you will enjoy it.