Have You Seen The Rabbit?
By Gary Amirault
One day, a young disciple of Christ desirous of wanting to become all that God had for him visited the home of an elderly Christian. He had heard that this old man had never lost his first love for Christ in all the years he had known Him. The old Christian was sitting on the porch with his dog stretched out before him taking in a beautiful sunset. The young man posed this question:
"Why is it, brother, that most Christians zealously chase after God during the first year or two after their conversion, but then fall into a complacent ritual of church twice a week and end up not looking any different than their neighbors who aren't even Christians? I have heard you are not like that. I have been told that you have fervently sought after God throughout your years as a Christian. People see something in you that they don't see in most people who became Christians. What makes you different?
The old man smiled and replied, "Let me tell you a story:
"One day I was sitting here quietly in the sun with my dog. Suddenly a large white rabbit ran across in front of us. Well, my dog jumped up, and took off after that big rabbit. He chased the rabbit over the hills with a passion. Soon, other dogs joined him, attracted by his barking. What a sight it was, as the pack of dogs ran barking across the creeks, up stony embankments and through thickets and thorns! Gradually, however, one by one, the other dogs dropped out of the pursuit, discouraged by the course and frustrated by the chase. Only my dog continued to hotly pursue the white rabbit.''
"In that story, young man, is the answer to your question.''
The young man sat in confused silence. Finally, he said, "Brother, I don't understand. What is the connection between the rabbit chase and the quest for God?"
"You fail to understand," answered the well-seasoned old man, "because you failed to ask the obvious question. Why didn't the other dogs continue on the chase? And the answer to that question is that they had not SEEN the rabbit. Unless you see the prey, the chase is just too difficult. You will lack the passion and determination necessary to keep up the chase."
"You search the Scriptures, for in them you THINK you have eternal life (zoen aionion); and these are they which testify of Me. But you are NOT willing to COME TO ME that you may have life." (John 5:39, 40)
"The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." 2 Cor. 3:6
"It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the MOUTH of God.'" (Matt. 4:4)
"For the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy." (Rev. 19:10)
"Do not quench the spirit. Do not despise prophesyings." (1 Thess. 5:19, 20)
"I still have many things to SAY to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of Truth has come, He will not SPEAK on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will SPEAK; and He will TELL you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and DECLARE it to you." (John 16:12-14)
"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever--the Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him, nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be IN you. I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you." (John 14:16-18)
There are millions of Christians who make their pilgrimage to what they believe is the house of God, who "think" they have life because they have been taught the right doctrines, the right words, the right rituals-they are in the ''right'' denomination or church. They "think" they know the truth because they have spent a fair amount of time in the Book about God, that is, the Bible. Or, perhaps, they themselves haven't really spent too much time in the Book, but they have sat for years under someone hired by the church who promised them that he or she knew the book very well and that their skill to dig stuff out of the Bible would be all they needed to gain entrance into eternal life. These Christians believe that the sermons and Bible studies their pastor or minister prepares for them twice a week is an ample amount of food to ''run the race set before us.'' (Heb. 12:1)
Having been in hundreds of different churches and all sorts of denominations, it is very apparent to me that many Christians have replaced the role of the Holy Spirit in their lives with men and women of institutional authority and with Bible studies. When someone asks a question dealing with spiritual matters and one immediately responds, "Well, what does the Word of God say?" and by that they mean let us look into our favorite Bible translation, they are showing signs that their relationship is with a BOOK and NOT necessarily with the God of the Book.
For too many Christians, the Holy Spirit is no more than a concept; a doctrine which can be understood through piecing a handful of scriptures together rather than having a daily, living, person-to-person relationship with Him. There are far more warnings in the New Testament about grieving the Holy Spirit or quenching the Spirit than warnings about being negligent in Bible study. The Bible can only give true spiritual understanding of a Bible verse IF the Holy Spirit illuminates it!
The difference between those Christians who are alive with the reality of Christ every day of their lives and those who drag themselves to church twice a week thinking they are doing the pastor and God a big favor by showing up, is the difference between a true spiritual life and spiritual death disguised as life through church attendance and Bible studies. Intellectual Bible study Christians have head knowledge and concepts while those Christians who are led by the Holy Spirit have a relationship with a living God. The former group finds an easy comfortable church with a soft pew to die in and the latter will be running around their community or the world setting it free from its bondage to corruption. Many thousands of churches around the world are nothing but coffins for the twice a week moral types. They are dead. Paul said to be carnally-minded is death but to be spiritually-minded is life. (Rom. 8:6) It is the Spirit that gives life, not just Bible study. "You search the Scriptures for in them you THINK you have eternal life...."
Millions of Christians go to church, not to get life, but to ''appear'' moral. It amazes me to this very day, that when I was an ardent atheist many years ago, that I actually contemplated going to church regularly on Sunday. I noticed all the ''fine'' people in our rich neighborhood did their little trek to the ''church of their choice'' on Sunday. The power of tradition is tremendous. I almost played the hypocrite of going to church to buy the appearance of looking moral. Churches are full of people like that.
Richard Wurmbrandt, author of "Tortured For Christ" and founder of "Voice of the Martyrs," once said, "The Bible is the truth about the Truth, it is NOT the Truth. Jesus is THE TRUTH." Jesus promised to send HIS Spirit to lead us into ALL Truth, that is, Himself. He promised to reveal HIMSELF THROUGH HIS SPIRIT, not through the so-called ''Authorized Version'' or church attendance. (Please don't misunderstand me. There is nothing wrong with Christians gathering together on any day of the week. But if moral principles and religion is all that's being served; if the very LIFE of the body of Christ is not allowed to come forth, then the exercise is nothing more than a ''tradition of man'' which Jesus said makes the True Word of God of no effect.) (Matt. 15:6-9)
"The hour is coming and now is when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him MUST worship in Spirit and Truth." (John 4:23, 24)
Twice a week church simply doesn't give enough fuel to stay on the chase no matter how much preparation the pastor may put into the sermon and Bible study. These things-this ''stuff'' doesn't produce enough desire--enough hunger to make our lives the "abundant life" which Jesus promised those who would chase after Him. The difference between knowing ABOUT Him and actually knowing Him is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, the Comforter. Sad, but true, millions of Christian only know ABOUT Jesus, they only know ABOUT the Holy Spirit through Bible Study, through denominational creeds and articles of faith. The Holy Spirit is a teaching for them-they use the name all the time-but He is not someone with Whom they have a vibrant living relationship.
''You shall love the Lord God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.'' (Mark 12:30) Without the Holy Spirit this is an impossible commandment. WITH the Holy Spirit, it is no longer a commandment, it becomes a promise!
Those who are simply obsessed with pursuing God, like the hound dog chasing the rabbit have a hunger for God which is never satisfied, yet much more satisfying than the ''stuff'' this world has to offer. They have come to the realization that God is everything; that if they have Him, they have it all. They have discovered that even their hunger for Him must come from Him; that all that is worthy to pursue must come from His hands. Their food becomes the very same food which Jesus ate during His stay on earth in His physical body-the will of God. (John 4:34)
A Christian pursuing the will, word, works, and ways of God prepared for them to pursue by the Holy Spirit is the most satisfying and rewarding life there is. I would NOT exchange the life I now live in Christ with the life of the greatest athlete, or biggest movie star, the head of the largest corporation or even the President of the United States.
Our lives as Christians should provoke others to jealousy. If you are a Christian and you find that your life does not meet that standard, then you have allowed something to take it's place--or maybe you've just ''never seen the rabbit.'' Maybe you just know a lot of ''stuff'' about Him in your head, but have never let Him set His fire in your heart-or possibly you've never really allowed the Holy Spirit to have full control of your life. If that's you, please take your "stuff," drop it at the feet of Jesus Christ with a humble heart and ask Him for the fire of His Holy Spirit to burn it away. Let Him become the center of your life. Seek Him with all your heart. Let Him become your hunger AND your food. ''Taste and SEE that the Lord is good.'' (Psalm 34:8) Ask Him to replace the knowledge in your head about Him with the fire (Spirit) of His life in your heart. Ask HIM to send the Holy Spirit to pursue you like the "Hound of Heaven" that He is and ask Him to give you the strength and determination and passion to run after Him all the days of your life and beyond. Why choose to live among the dead when Jesus has promised you a life of abundance beyond your wildest dreams?
''Draw me after you and let us run together! The king has brought me into his chambers." "We will rejoice in you and be glad; We will extol your love more than wine. Rightly do they love you." (Sol. 1:4)
In Him, Gary Amirault