Dr. Willard expresses what the less mature Christian needs.
But what they think they need, can they really handle it?
They need the spectacular.
He bases his comments on the relationship we see between Aaron and Miriam and Moses in Numbers. What is telling about this relationship is the contrast between these people. Aaron and Miriam are the brother and sister of Moses and they are jealous that Moses has received communication from God.
To be blunt, they want a little “God action.”
From the perspective of Moses [verse 3 of Numbers 12 “a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.”] he could care less who received communication from God. In fact, he wanted other people to be able to prophesy.
Are we different today?
Many in today’s world want flash but they shy away from substance. And there are numerous examples of people today who can make a big presence but they have very little to say. They can command the stage but in less-subdued circumstances, they can’t articulate impressive thought. The world is replete with politicians who look attractive, have larger than life personalities but when pressed for specifics, they can produce none. Is that ok? For many I guess it is but I prefer substance over pleasant outward appearances. Substance means the person can think, make good decisions and guide others in challenging times. Flash is just not enough.
Dr. Willard states that the “need to have big things happening” reassures people that things are all right but does God always work in that way?
What we think we need is often different from what we really need, what we can really handle. When we think we need a lavish, loud experience maybe we really need a quiet time to reflect, breathe and think. Dr. Willard writes “Who among us would really know what to do if the great God came down in splendor and somehow stood before us?” Job says it best in the Biblical citation “These are indeed but the outskirts of His ways and how small a whisper do we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand?” [Job 26:14]
The bravado of people today may pale when God appears. Many believe such expressions as “Go Big or Go Home” and “Go All In!” and they love to say things like “Is that all you got?” when they are challenged but can they back up those expressions with the courage to follow God?
Dr. Willard cites James and John as two perfect examples of disciples who felt they could handle the rigors of Jesus’ life. Dr. Willard describes their behavior as politicians asking for favors. They are asking Jesus when he becomes president to be His vice president and secretary of state.
Jesus replies “can you drink the cup that I will drink of, be baptized with my baptism?” They were eager and felt they could.
Little did they know what was in store as James became the first Apostle to suffer martyrdom. John’s hard life was long but he had to endure torture [burning oil] and exile.
What they asked for, they received.
What they asked for was more than they bargained for.
They wanted the spectacular but could they handle it?
We think we need that too but the life of Jesus is not full of the spectacular; it is a life of patience and fortitude. It is a life of peace and quiet inspiration. At key times in the life of Jesus when he could have summoned armies of Angels to help him, he chose to listen to his accusers and not respond; he chose to bear the pain and not inflict pain on others.
He bypassed the spectacular and chose instead, the understated strength of a confident humble servant.
Many feel that Moses was a humble predecessor of Jesus. Evidently his humility in the face of his role as leader was astounding. God appreciated it and set Aaron and Miriam straight. They may have wanted direct communication with God but when God addressed them He scolded them and supported Moses.
“Listen to my words: ‘When there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”
At that point, they knew that they had angered God: “The anger of the Lord burned against them” and Miriam was turned into a leper when God left her presence.
Do you think they got the message?
Immature Christians think they can handle all that God has to offer.
Mature Christians are satisfied to receive what God is willing to share.