By Alex Anderson, Senior Associate Pastor at Bayside Community Church
John the Baptist asked Jesus a very bizarre question once. In Matthew 11:3 He asked, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”
Here is why that seems so bizarre. John also said these words in John 1:29, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
John, Jesus’ wild-eyed, locust-eating cousin, clearly knew who Jesus was, why he was here, and actually had known this his whole life.
So what’s up, Johnny B?
At breakfast, a friend told me his former drug-addicted
son turned drug counselor for many years had relapsed so bad that his mom is in fear for his life. Their other child has tried to commit suicide many times. They’ve lived with these crushing pains for years, yet do it with a grace that boggles the mind.
The day I started this article, a minister friend of mine buried his baby granddaughter. A miserably sad day, but he was surprisingly peaceful.
With the extraordinary things that can happen in life, I don’t think it’s too big of stretch to get why John would ask, “Are you the Messiah or should we be looking for someone else?”
John was in a tight spot, about to be executed. Herod liked John, put him in prison to protect him, got drunk at a party and made a regretful promise that cost John his life.
In my opinion John was asking this: “Hey, cousin, are you really going to be the ‘Head Honcho’ around here? If so, get on with it. And by the way, get me out of prison because they’re about to cut my head off, drop it in a basket, and give it to a woman who hates me!”
When life happens to us, it can cause us to ask God questions.
For thirty years, I tried to answer these kinds of questions. Sometimes the answer was crystal clear, but at times…I had no idea. Only God knew, and He didn’t tell me.
What I have found is this secret in Matthew 11, a few verses after John’s question. In Matthew 11:25, Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike.” (Innocence)
Did you see that? Hiding these things? Why would God hide something? My hallucination is it’s because there are some things that only Christ followers get to know. They are kind of like family secrets. In fact, innocence is the key to the family secrets.
When life starts flying apart in big chunks, we start seeking answers. That’s normal. When we don’t readily find answers, we start blaming. And if no one else is handy to blame, we choose God. He is a pretty big target.
My friends who struggle with their two children’s mental health and the friend who buried his granddaughter have this in common: they decided to stay innocent…not to blame God.
One of my early mentors, Moose, had terrible things happen in his family. The innocence inside of him gave him a calm peace in the middle of those terrible things.
That was a fresh idea for me since I barely trusted anyone at the time.
For my friends, God has not raised the dead or instantly healed tormented minds. I also did not see my friends crumble up and drift away under these crushing blows of life. God is helping them from the inside out. Their innocence—a child-like quality—
allows God to give them strength to not just live but to thrive.
I’ve heard that the best place to hide something is in plain sight.
Look at this in Matthew 11: 27. “…No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal.”
Without innocence, we blame God for our messes and miseries, and do not see that He is there to help. When we see the one who died for us, that’s when this “innocent peace” begins to settle into our hearts. And over time, we are more than okay. We become whole.
I experienced this in an ICU room in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina as two of my brothers and I watched for eighteen minutes as Dad’s heart slowly stopped beating after life support was removed. I felt helpless, yet filled with an innocent peace. I was whole. Nothing missing, even though my dad had gone to Heaven.
That day, in my broken heart, Holy Spirit revealed Jesus to me…my source of peace.
Ask God to reveal Jesus to you, and you will know what I’m saying is true.
To your spiritual health,
Pastor Alex Anderson
Author, Dangerous Prayers