‘I don’t need no fancy preaching…’ My first memories of church are from when I was a little kid in the northern Minnesota town of Cloquet. My parents were divorced but when my Dad would come to visit, up from the Twin Cities, he usually came on a Sunday in time to pick up my sister and I and take us to church. Now there was no mistaking that this this place was a church, unlike our converted pole barn/shop where I pastor in Red Lodge.
When you walked in the first thing you noticed was the huge gleaming polished brass pipes from the pipe organ that covered most of the wall behind the pulpit and put out a sound to match. Then you looked up and saw the stained-glass windows depicting, what to a little kid, were some very bizarre scenes—giant glass cartoons that to me were on the wrong walls because during church you had to turn around to see them. Much more interesting than the preacher in his funny robes talking about mysterious God things.
There was the one with the guy being blinded by a bright light from the sky, and one with another guy trapped in a deep hole with hungry lions who looked about to eat him. And then there was the 3 half-naked guys hanging on crosses all looking miserable and the guy who was having huge rocks thrown down on him by other guys in bath robes—come to think of it they were all pretty disturbing— except for one, the biggest one; it was a handsome fellow kneeling down and resting on a huge rock looking serenely up to heaven while a light shined lovingly on his face. I asked my Dad who that was and he told me it was Jesus praying. I remember that one the most because it wasn’t nearly so traumatic as the others, in fact it looked rather pleasant—A gentle, happy Jesus praying in a garden.
Little did I know in my childhood innocence that it was anything but a gentle and happy time for Jesus. That little prayer time in the garden was a pivotal moment for him, for us, and for all of creation, as the fate of all mankind and the defeat of the enemy who had stolen the earth and our lives from us. Even the next to sit on the very throne of God himself was being decided in that garden in the middle of the night on a hill outside of Jerusalem.
It would come down to one thing, obedience, Jesus willingness to be obedient to the will of his Father who was asking him to do something that every fiber of his being told him he could not bear, not just suffer the wrath of man and the torture of his flesh, but to suffer the wrath and rejection of his Father.
37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6
I have come down from heaven to do my Father’s will… Jesus knew where he was from and he knew why he was here. He was here to do the will of his Father, and the will of his Father, indeed, his very own will—for he and his Father were one—was that everyone who believed in and looked to him would have eternal life. Quite a high calling and goal.
But that didn’t make it easy, even though Jesus knew where he was from and where he was going, while he was here he was a man in every sense of the word with all the weakness, fears and emotions of any other man, or woman. And he knew, because he was also still God, that he would have to bear all the failings of all those with whom he now shared—yet without falling into—those same weaknesses and temptations.
Think about that, God becomes a man so that he can suffer the wrath of God so that we will not have to. It was the will of God the Father for his children to be exonerated from the death penalty we deserved by dying in our place through God the Son so that we could have life both today, and forever, through God the Holy Spirit. I think I like the will of God.
So why do we still struggle to trust that God’s will is one we want to submit to fully? Human nature I guess, but we can overcome that human nature with the nature of God now living in us, super nature if you will. The more we submit to, and trust his will, the more supernatural we will become as the glory of God falls on us and we receive all the benefits of the life Jesus purchased for us on the cross. I know I just got a little deep there for some of you but if you can grasp it—and you will if you want to—it can change your life.
God bless that little church that set me–and many others I’m sure–on the path to one day find Jesus.
But as for me- ‘I don’t need no fancy preaching, I don’t need no shiny organ pipes or funny collar, all I need is Jesus’ and I come before you determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified. Because of that, I too–just like serene happy stained glass Jesus in the window–can have perfect peace.