(By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)
By now I am sure you have recognized that some people appreciate Jesus, and some people don't. Some people fall at His feet to worship Him, while others tend to view the Savior with curiosity or even contempt. Where do you fall on that spectrum of attitudes toward the Messiah?
I know of only one way to truly appreciate Jesus. You first must be brought to a realization of your standing before God. You must come to see how far you have fallen from God's original plan for man. You will never truly appreciate Jesus until you come to see your sinful condition and your utter helplessness to do anything about it.
What I am saying is that you have a deadly disease, but it's a disease of the soul. It permeates your being at a level you may not even yet recognize you possess. Those who reject the doctrine of the soul nevertheless have sin in their soul. They just don't grasp that fact. Without a recognition of your sinful condition, you will never appreciate Jesus.
There is a Person who can help you tremendously in this area. Jesus said this about Him: "When He comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment." (John 16:8) Do you know who He is? Here is another clue: Jesus said, "He will testify about me." (John 15:26) Still not sure? Take a guess.
Drum roll please. The only Person who can bring you to a place of understanding concerning your sin and your need for Jesus is none other than the Holy Spirit. That's what He does, and He is good at it. And you know what man is good at? Resisting the Holy Spirit. Resisting His influence. Resisting His guidance. Resisting His instruction. Man, by nature, feels quite confident of figuring out whatever there is to know about God.
I assure you my friend that you will never come to a proper understanding of sin and grace without the work of the Holy Spirit in your heart and soul. "No one can say, 'Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit." (1 Cor. 12:3) As St. Paul put it, "This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words." (1 Cor. 2:13)
In fact, Paul even went on to say that "the man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." (2 Cor. 2:14) Notice the words "cannot understand." Man simply does not have the ability to discern the truth of God without first having the instruction of the Holy Spirit. Only He can truly teach us about our sin, and our need for the Savior of the world.
Try this. Sit down with the 10 Commandments. Ask God to show you how you have fallen short of His standard of holy perfection. Ask Him to show you that you have sinned against a holy God and His holy law. Ask Him to do a work in you that you cannot do for yourself. Even by asking Him to do it you are demonstrating how He is already at work in your life. At the same time, a refusal to rely on God for this necessary enlightenment would be evidence of how hard your heart is toward God.
I do not say that with even an ounce of judgment toward you my friend. It is simply a fact. People get heart disease in their bodies, and people also experience "heart disease" in their soul. In fact, everyone has this disease. "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) It is what it is. That doesn't make any of us better than another. It just means that some people have had God perform "open heart surgery" on their soul, while others have yet to even schedule their first appointment with the Great Physician.
From the time each of us was born, we had a predisposition that resisted God's work in our life. This is why the Scripture declares, "There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God." (Romans 3:11) The truth is that if you find yourself truly seeking God, it is only because He is already working in your life to stir you and get you off dead center. You don't want to stay there do you? When your inner being (your spirit) is lifeless, you are at dead center. When the wellspring of the Holy Spirit comes to live within you through faith in Christ, you are then "alive with Christ." (Ephesians 2:5)
So "wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." (Ephesians 5:14) Come to grips with your sinful condition. Trust in what Jesus did for you on the cross to forgive you and save your soul. Wake up. That is, unless you would rather just go on living life without an appreciation for Jesus.
You may feel like you were born to live without Christ. Fair enough. But God says you can be born again to start living with Him. It's true. You really can. And that new birth is the only way you will ever truly appreciate Jesus.
Will you follow the lead of the Holy Spirit in this very moment? Run into God's arms today. You will never regret it.