Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. [Psalm 34:8]
I like to believe we all go through cycles in our faith, where sometimes we feel extremely close to God, and in other times, extremely distant. Otherwise, if I’m really the only one, I’m in serious trouble. Recently, for the past month or so, I’ve felt so distant from everything. It was as if a gray filter had dropped in front of me, forcing me to view life in monochrome. It was like trying to run that last part of a race, when everything feels dull and numb and you just want it all to be over. However, shouldn’t it be easy to love and constantly be in awe of a God so wonderful? Unless, of course, you don’t actually know who God is. And that was part of the problem – I didn’t, and still struggle to, understand and know who God is.
This week, I went to a praise night called “Carry the Love,” which actually takes place on college campuses all over the US. The speaker stressed over and over again the fact that we need to be disrupted by His presence, because religion itself is a form of godliness lacking power – what we really need is a disruptive faith, one that’s so powerful it changes your entire course. We need a revival in the world, on our college campuses, because His love is active, moving, life-changing. Four out of five college freshmen are hungry for something spiritual, yet what are we doing to reach out to all these people on our campuses?
Faithful You have been, faithful You will be. You pledge Yourself to me, and that’s why I sing. Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips…. You will be praised, You will be praised. With angels and saints we sing worthy are You Lord. The first set of worship included “Ever Be,” “Holy Spirit,” “Great Are You Lord,” and “No Longer Slaves,” all of which were songs that had been on my heart tremendously in the past year, as I struggled with responding to God’s love for me. God has proven over and over again how faithful He has been to me, but I could not reciprocate. Faith is knowing God does, God can, and God will. Unbelief is the enemy of faith. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. [John 20:29]
Focusing on Mark 10, the speaker emphasized how our disruptive faith arises out of seeing God with our spiritual eyes, rather than with our physical eyes. The excerpt below from Mark 10:17-22, 46-52 is long, yes, but the contrasting examples of the rich young man and the blind man demonstrate how we must approach God with humility.
17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions….
46 And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. [Mark 10:17-22, 46-52]
The rich young man believed that the law was what could bring him life; his approach was self-centered, focusing on what more he could do, when it was never about what he did in the first place. He called Jesus “Good Teacher,” and told Him that “all these [laws] I have kept from my youth” – it was as if he was working on homework and had one more problem, and wanted the teacher to help him solve it. He wanted Jesus to look at all he had done and be proud of him. He wanted to prove himself to Jesus, and this is the attitude that we often actually have, as if we could earn our salvation if we’re “good enough.” However, as the speaker said, God sent His son so He could prove Himself and His love to us, not the other way around. In our weakness, His power is made perfect. We put ourselves in a prison by trying to work for our salvation, but Jesus is standing outside our prison, having already opened the prison gate – all we have to do is see that it’s open and want to walk out of it.
God reveals Himself to the broken, to those who recognize that there’s something wrong, and they need the Creator to make them right again. This is exactly what Bartimaeus, the blind man, does. He cries out, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” In our brokenness, we recognize a desperate need for Jesus, when we come from a place of hunger, and therefore humility. When we’re full, we feel the right to be choosy. The rich young man, with all his possessions, had a perceived fullness, but didn’t understand his actual underlying hunger. Because of this, he was unable to give up all he had for something so much greater, something that would actually solve the problem.
In contrast, we have the blind man, Bartimaeus, who knows exactly who Jesus is, as more than just a teacher. Interestingly, he is actually given a name, and therefore dignity and subsequently almost rewarded for his faith, whereas the rich young man’s name is not mentioned. Although he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth who was passing by, and not necessarily the Son of David, he knew that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of David, the one who saves. Although he was physically blind, he saw who Jesus was with his spiritual eyes. He had faith that Jesus cared about him and would see him, despite his lowly status, to the point that even as the disciples were rebuking him for calling out to Jesus, he cried out all the more for Him. Ironically, although the rich young man could physically see Jesus, he was spiritually blind, unable to see who Jesus really was.
Taste and see that the Lord is good. We taste first, and then we see. Tasting is to satisfy that deep spiritual hunger we have – we must be humble to recognize we even need God. Seeing is with our spiritual eyes, like Bartimaeus, rather than with our physical eyes, like the rich young ruler. When we recognize who we are before God, sinners, and understand that God still chose to save us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8), we know that God is good. If we know in our heart that God is good, how can our faith in Him not change everything?
I’ve tasted and seen of the sweetest of loves, where my heart becomes free, and my shame is undone. In Your presence, Lord. [“Holy Spirit” – Jesus Culture]