Posted by: littletoe | May 2, 2007

Thoughts on John 6:45

Some of you might understand that an orthodox Episcopalian fleeing the heresy so rampant in that church might swing the pendulum in an effort to find a place to worship where the gospel was not compromised and the environment was spiritually safe for one’s children. That was what happened to us when we met the Wisconsin Synod Lutherans. They have a nice little church five minutes from our house and we checked them out early in our search. My husband was brought up Lutheran (Missouri Synod for those of you who care) and it seemed a natural alternative. He assured me Wisconsin was as conservative as you could get, so that’s where we went. The service was just OK from my point of view, but I kept reminding myself of what I’d learned from Rick Warren’s “40 Days of Purpose”: worship was all about Jesus, not me. Besides, they were offering a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University course and we’d been looking for something like that. We also thought it was great to see a church involved in helping their community in such a tangible way.

Soon after we visited we received a knock on our door from their new vicar. I was so impressed! A house call! We talked with him for a couple of hours and then my husband asked him to pray with us for discernment to find the right place to worship. He refused and I thought at that moment it would be really nice for a hole to open up in my floor and swallow me up right there! He explained that according to their beliefs, praying with us would indicate that he was in communion with us and since we weren’t members of his church he couldn’t be sure.

Well, that did it for me. They were nice people and we would finish the Financial Peace course, but it was not the place for us to worship. I said as much to one of my classmates and one of the pastors confronted me and said I was being unfair. So my husband and I met with the head pastor and patched things up a bit and he suggested we come to one of their bible studies so that we could get a better feel for where they were coming from.

By the time we started the bible study the pull to the Catholic Church had begun. It was so scary and I can remember praying to God that He would save me if the Catholic Church was some kind of cult. I had been reading Catholic blogs and websites to find out about some of the things that scared me about them: Mary, Purgatory, Salvation/Justification, Papal Infallibility, just to name a few. So I came to these Lutheran bible studies with a few questions—none of which were satisfactorily answered. In fact, I came away with the distinct impression that I was an annoyance. The answers were always so black and white—“based on what the Bible says.”

One evening, the question was asked based on a passage in Isaiah (I believe) whether or not God hears the prayers of people who don’t know/believe in Him. The expected answer was ‘no.’ But I raised my hand and said ‘yes’ based on my own experience. I was not a Christian until I was an adult (baptized at 30) but I can look back and see how God was drawing me to Him.

So, the other day I was listening to a Pray-As-You-Go podcast and the passage for meditation was taken from (roughly) John 6:31-51. But what really caught my attention was verse 45:

It is written in the prophets: ‘They shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.

I wish I had known this verse so that I could more effectively play Bible Wars with the Lutherans! I realized that I had listened to the Father and learned from Him and that is how I was able to come to know Jesus. Thank God that he spoke to me and taught me!  People who are far from God should not be shunned by Christians. We simply do not know what the Father is saying to them or how they’re being taught. But Jesus said that is how He draws them to Him so that means that EVERYONE who has come to know Jesus listened and learned at the feet of the Father.

THAT is what I appreciate about the Catholics.  They don’t pray “Thank God I am not a sinner like this man!” and see you as “unclean”.  They are too busy praying that He will have mercy on THEM.

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