Reading today Psalm 66, John 6:41-59
My wife has a terrible disease. It is apparently a genetic thing because her mother had it and both of her sisters have it. They all suffer from the “I can’t hide my giggles” disease. From our earliest time together I have watched her, and them, get tickled at the most inopportune times and progress (or digress) from not so subtle giggling to uncontrollable laughter. When we were young in our marriage we would be having devotions at the end of the day. We would all kneel around the living room and Doris’s dad would call on one of them to pray. Tragically, the disease would hit, first one, then another, they would begin laughing, unable to stop, until Pa or me would pray and we would go to bed.
In fact, the more serious the occasion, the more susceptible they seem to be to the disease. Many is the time the three girls got up to sing in church. One of them would be afflicted by the giggling disease, then the next, until finally, after a few painful moments they would sit back down. Once in a little church in Tennessee, my uncle, the pastor, at the end of the service asked Doris to pray the dismissal prayer. No one had warned him about her disease. She started giggling, elbowing me gasping, “You pray Mike. You pray.” I thought, “I’m just going to wait it out.” I waited. And waited. After what seemed like a very long time, I prayed so the good folks could go home. Perhaps the most infamous attacks came when Doris and I were invited to sing with a song evangelist and his wife for a Sunday night service. We practiced all afternoon but at the last second, this guy decided we should sing acapella. He hit a chord on the piano. We walked to the pulpit. And then he proceeded to talk for 10 minutes. By the time he was done, none of us knew what key we were in. We started in four different keys. Three bars in and Doris is giggling uncontrollably with her head down on the pulpit. I assume his wife did not know about the disease either because she thought Doris was overcome by the spirit. She kept patting Doris on the back saying, “Bless her Lord,” which would only send Doris into a new wave of convulsive laughter. It was a long song.
In the last part of John 6, Jesus says some giggle worthy things. “I am the Bread of Life.” “Believe on me and you will have eternal life.” I imagine the crowd is giggling. “This guy is bananas. He has lost it.” “I am replacing the manna that Moses gave,” Jesus says. More giggles. Then He goes too far, “I am the Bread of Life. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood will live forever.” What? Eat Your flesh? Drink Your blood? An argument breaks out. The Jews are incensed. Many of His followers shake their heads and leave Him. “This is no laughing matter Jesus. Flesh and blood, eternal life, the way to God, you don’t joke about these things.”
In retrospect, we know that Jesus is talking metaphorically. (Remember yesterday’s blog?) But still it is a hard saying. There is something about following Jesus that requires a total buy in. We are fully engaged with Him in every way or we aren’t really His disciples. We used to sing, (before Doris started laughing) “For if You’re not Lord of everything, then You’re not Lord at all.” I love the grace of God. I want to talk about His wonderful love. Jesus is my buddy and God is my Papa. All of that is true. I can think about that and just start giggling. But there is a serious, life changing, path altering call to follow Him that costs us everything. “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24) Paul says, “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering.” (Philippians 3:10)
Jesus says that to truly follow Him is to take on His life, and character, and nature so much that it is like we ate His flesh and drank His blood. He uses words like servant, and submission, and suffering. He says things like, “Repent. Reconcile. Return.” To be a Christ follower is the most joyous decision we can ever make, but it is also the most serious. A life for God is full of laughter, but it is no laughing matter. Many people will come up against the commitment required and go the other way. But not us. Not us. This weekend in the barn, on the Funny Farm, I watched 16 guys with their hands in the air, singing, “We have decided to follow Jesus. We won’t turn back. We won’t turn back.” That’s nothing to giggle about. So today, I revel in His awesome goodness and His love for me, but I also remember the price that He paid to reconcile me to Himself. And I get serious. I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. I’m not joking.