EDITOR’S NOTE: Visit “WorldView Conversation,” the blog related to this column, at http://worldviewconversation.blogspot.com/. Listen to an audio version at http://media1.imbresources.org/files/116/11606/11606-63700.mp3.
RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–A young guy rushes into a coffee shop and joins Jesus Christ at a table. Jesus has been waiting for Him — apparently for quite a while.
Jesus breaks into a smile, but as He rises to offer a greeting, the young man says, “Hey, Jesus, sorry I’m late. Work was crazy today. No, don’t get up. I just got a little behind.”
“That’s no problem, Chuck,” Jesus replies. “I’m just glad that….”
“I’m glad I made it, too,” Chuck interjects, pulling a legal pad from his briefcase. “Listen, let’s get down to business. I have a lot of work here, lotta requests, OK?”
Jesus, used to the drill, hides His disappointment. He listens as His distracted friend races through page after page of petitions, peeves and random thoughts. When Chuck finally finishes, Jesus leans forward to respond. Before He can speak, Chuck looks at his watch and blurts, “Hey, look at the time! Gotta get going, Jesus. I’m just gonna wrap this up and say amen. It’s been a pleasure praying with You. I’ll be in touch. Have a good day!” He grabs his stuff and takes off, leaving Jesus alone at the table, sipping coffee.
That’s the storyline of “Coffee with Jesus,” a funny video produced by Church Fuel that you can find at GodTube.com (http://www.godtube.com/featured/video/coffee-jesus). Funny, but sad.
In an age of continuous, pointless distraction, we approach the Lord the way Chuck does more than we want to admit — to ourselves or to Him. Would you treat your friends this way? Not if you want to keep them. We rely on God’s patience, but how must His heart hurt over each little (and large) rejection?
At His last meal with the disciples, Jesus said, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15b, NASB). The King James Version translates the first part of the verse this way: “With desire I have desired….” We’ll never understand the magnitude of His yearning at that moment, but it was deeper than tears. During His lonely agony in Gethsemane later that night, when He needed Peter and John the most, they fell asleep. He asked them, “What, could ye not watch with me one hour?” (Matthew 26:40b, KJV).
It’s a mystery to think that God, the Creator of all things, intensely desires the love of such as us. Yet it is why He created us. Every once in a while, we need to remember why we are here.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5, NASB) is God’s great commandment, repeated again and again in Scripture. All the rest of the Law and the prophets depend upon it, Jesus said, along with loving our neighbor (Matthew 23:40).
When Israel chased after idols, it not only angered the Lord, it broke His heart. The Book of Hosea recounts the tragic story of a prophet who marries a harlot. He briefly feels the ongoing pain God experiences over the unfaithfulness of His people.
Returning to God means seeking Him alone — and no other. “When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face, O Lord, I shall seek,'” David prayed (Psalm 27:8, NASB). When we seek Him, He confronts the selfishness that permeates even our faith. We are not here just to enjoy His blessings, but to bless Him with our thoughts, words and actions.
“Do you love Me?” Jesus asks us daily, repeatedly, just as He asked Peter after His resurrection. Love of God in action is obedience. Love of God expressed is worship. And God wants worship to rise toward Him from every nation and people.
Few have explained the relationship of worship to missions for the contemporary church better than pastor/writer John Piper:
“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever. Worship, therefore, is the fuel and goal of mission…. The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God…. ‘Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. O let the nations be glad and sing for joy'” (Psalm 67:3-4a, KJV).
What about evangelism, sending missionaries, preaching the Gospel to the ends of the earth, making disciples, starting churches? These are all means to an end. The end is that His name shall be exalted, that every tongue shall confess Jesus Christ to the glory of God the Father.
Some folks like to think about the heavenly mansions and the streets of gold. But the true joy of eternity with God will be seeing Him face to face and singing praises to Him forever.
Erich Bridges is global correspondent for the International Mission Board (imb.org).