You may remember the story of Rip Van Winkle, who slept for 20 years and woke to a much different world. Have you ever felt like that? I sometimes think that way about my journey through legalism and the first decades of beginning to understand grace. Oh, how good it would be to see all that again, with what I know now! Some days I still miss the point (I'll get back to that). How is
it possible to miss out on God's purpose, and can you get back to that purpose?
In Luke 7:30 we read Luke's commentary on events including miracles and a question from John the Baptist about Jesus. Luke quotes Jesus' words in praising John, and notes that the tax collectors and other common people who had been baptized by John agreed with Jesus. "But the Pharisees and experts in religious law rejected God’s plan for them, for they had refused John’s baptism." Wow. Can you really miss out on what God has for you, or reject it outright? It seems that some of them did, at least for the moment.
How can you miss the point of what God is doing? This text has a couple of indications.
First, worrying about being right -- even about having missed the point in the first place. John the Baptist sent two disciples to ask Jesus "Are you the one who is to come, or are we looking for another?" John had announced Jesus' coming, had baptized a lot of people and gathered up quite a few disciples; and now that he was in prison, may have started having doubts about being wrong after all. Remember, our enemy Satan tries to put doubt and worry in our minds all the time anyway. In this case, Jesus pointed out the actions and the fruits of his ministry (verses 21 and 22) to remind John of the truth. And Jesus is right -- looking to the facts, the fruits, rather than our doubts, helps us look to what God is doing.
The Pharisees and lawyers had a different issue. They were preoccupied with power and status. They had certain authority under the occupying Romans, and they had taken on the Levitical role of teaching people about God, and they didn't want to lose their position. Jesus let them know many times that they misunderstood God; but here Luke gets into the act as well. "They had refused John's baptism" which was for those who were sincerely seeking God's will and willing to change their ways -- which apparently these weren't. So they missed out on an opportunity that was right in front of them.
And we can just get so busy with everyday life that we don't pay enough attention to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us at the moment. I'm a goal-driven person, wanting certain results from every activity, and it's easy to forget that life is about relationships, not checking boxes.
Whenever you and I get off track, the Holy Spirit is constantly bringing us back to the will of God -- which I for one, deeply don't want to miss. So the key, to repeat a common theme here, is to keep our spiritual eyes and ears sensitive to his will, and be ready to let go of our doubts, worries and even 'position' in favor of surrendering to Jesus. Let's not miss what he has for us today!