Jesus didn’t have to leave Nazareth. He could have set himself up in a comfortable little bachelor pad, expanded his carpentry business, and found himself a wife (maybe even that hottie, Mary Magdalene). He could have had ten kids and sprouted a beer belly. He could have taken his place at the head of his family after the death of his father, growing more and more distinguished with age. He could have died a respected and revered elder of the Nazarene synagogue community.
He could have done all these things, but he chose not to.
It was a choice to do God’s will and become the Messiah. It wasn’t “predestination” or a foregone conclusion. It was a choice.
By faith, Jesus knew God’s will, and he did it. He didn’t have to leave Nazareth, but it was God’s will that he leave, so he did.
Leaving Nazareth was not a decision based on comfort. It was not comfortable for Jesus to come out as the Messiah. He left his comfort zone behind the day he performed his first public miracle. From then on, he was a marked man.
It’s not comfortable to live with a price on your head.
It wasn’t comfortable to fast for 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. It wasn’t comfortable to live as an itinerant preacher. It wasn’t comfortable to sleep on the ground, night after night, or to go without meals. It wasn’t comfortable, as a believer, to be constantly surrounded by people who either didn’t believe or didn’t believe enough.
If there was any comfort in Jesus’ life during his earthly ministry, it was solely in prayer with his Father. Jesus knew his life as the Messiah would be uncomfortable, but he chose to do God’s will anyway. Jesus knew he’d be an outcast (even from his family and friends) and a target for extermination, but he chose to do God’s will anyway.
The life of the world is all about comfort. Jesus could have stayed in Nazareth and lived that life. But he couldn’t stay in Nazareth and do God’s will at the same time.
Neither can you.
We all have our own personal Nazareth. We have a life that we can live quite comfortably, thank-you-very-much, all the while knowing in the back of our mind that it is not God’s will for us. We can live our comfortable life quietly, quietly, making do with the crumbs from other people’s blessings and trying not to see the sadness in God’s eyes when he looks at us and thinks about how much more he could have given us, if we’d only been willing to step outside our comfort zone and leave Nazareth.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to see sadness in God’s eyes when he looks at me. I want my Heavenly Dad to look at me and say (like he said about Jesus): “This is my son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.” I don’t want to forgo the forever pleasures of Heaven for some fleeting earthly comfort.
If you’re born again, there comes a time when you must choose whether or not to leave Nazareth. No-one can tell you to go or not to go, not even God. The choice is entirely yours. However, leaving Nazareth IS the right choice, even if it means embracing a life of discomfort, poverty, ridicule, harassment, rejection and even murder at the hands of God’s enemies.
Leaving Nazareth means leaving the world behind but drawing closer and closer to God.
There are very few things that I know for sure, but one of them is this: There is no greater comfort in Heaven or on Earth than being as close as you can to God.
Are you a spiritual slob?
A pew potato?
Do you just sit there passively sucking in what other people say about God’s kingdom without discerning whether or not what they’re saying is true?
Mainstream Christianity is bloated with spiritual slobs. But the good news for said slobs and all those who say they believe in Jesus but live their lives as if they don’t is that they don’t have to stay that way.
They can change.
They can get spiritually fit for God’s kingdom.
- Pick up the Bible and read it for yourself. I’m guessing that some of you reading this haven’t read the Bible in years, if at all. So go ahead – find the nearest Bible, open it up to Genesis, and start reading. Read the Old Testament and read the New Testament. Read it until it starts to make sense to you and makes sense of the world. Do not stop reading until you get to that point, and then keep reading until it makes complete and total sense to you and makes complete and total sense of the world. And then keep reading it every day until the day you die.
- Stop going to organized religion services. People who sit in the pews of religious services are pew potatoes. DON’T BE A PEW POTATO. There is nothing worse than a pew potato. God called them “lukewarm” and spewed them out of his mouth like so much rancid vichyssoise. Don’t get spewed out of God’s mouth. Get off that pew and out of that building they call a “church”. If you’re reading this, you should be born again; if you’re born again, you shouldn’t be parking your arse in a pew. You should be out here in cyberland or out there in physical space preaching the Good News. You don’t preach with your arse parked in a pew. If your arse is parked in a pew, you’re a pew potato. There’s no other way to say it. Better to face facts now then to find out on Judgment Day, when it’s too late to do anything about it.
- Get to know God as your Dad. If you don’t have the same close and loving relationship with God as Jesus had (he called God “Abba”, which is “Daddy”), then you’ve missed the spiritual boat. In fact, you’re not even on the wharf or anywhere near the water. I spent the first 3 years of my rebirth knowing God only through a priest. WHAT A WASTE OF TIME. Don’t be like I was. You can’t get to know God through someone else. You can know ABOUT God through someone else, but that’s not the same as knowing God one-on-one as your loving and omni-present Dad. There is no greater relationship that a human being can enter into than to know God as “Dad”. Nothing beats it. Nothing. If you don’t yet know God as your Dad, for the sake of all that’s good and holy, turn off your computer right now and get to know him already today. NOW. Tomorrow might be too late.
- Stop worrying about what the world worries about. Stop worrying about your health. Stop worrying about your finances. Stop worrying about what people think of you. Stop worrying about politics. Stop worrying about what your spouse or kids or parents or siblings or neighbours or friends are worrying about. Stop worrying about everything. Jesus said we have only one thing to worry about: SEEK YE FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, and everything that you would otherwise worry about will supernaturally be supplied and/or resolved (by God). Focus on God and his kingdom that is here, now, all around us and inside those who are born again. Treat ALL people as you want to be treated. Love your enemies. Follow the Commandments. Preach the word. Choose to forgive. THAT’S what it means to seek the kingdom of God. Do that, and everything else will fade into insignificance. That’s a promise from God.
- Build your faith step by step by choosing what you know is God’s will. We all make mistakes. We all sometimes wander down a path that we realize only after the fact is not what God wants for us. If you’ve found you’ve done that, it’s not too late to get back on track. Some day it might be (don’t tempt God’s patience), but for now, there’s still time. The more you do what you know in your heart is God’s will (see #4 above), your faith with grow. The greater your faith grows, the easier it will be to do God’s will, and the closer you will grow to God (see #3). The greater your faith and the closer you grow to God, the easier it is to do his will, and so on, and so on, and so on. This is how Jesus built his faith. He wasn’t born with it; he built it, day by day, choice by choice. So can you.
I know that if you’re reading this you don’t want to be a spiritual slob. You don’t have to be. You can get spiritually fit with as much vigor and focus and success as the world gets physically fit. It’s not hard. God does most of the slogging. All you have to do is make the first step, and God will take it from there.
Come Judgment Day, you’ll be glad you did.