Returning to the Porch

“Where I found truth, there found I my God, who is the truth itself.” – Augustine

Secondhand Lions

Ever seen it? It is the story of Walter. He is a young man who has been dropped off by his mother on the porch of an old house. Here, he was to be raised by his great uncles till his mother returned.

Throughout the movie, Walter has many adventures (including a lion, a cornfield jungle, and a life story like none other). Walter learns many things from his great uncles. However, the words his mother left him with rang in his ears. His uncles, as the story goes, were loaded with millions stashed away in cash. She wanted Walter to find it while she was gone.

When his mother returns, he is taken away to live with her and her new man. Yet, he never revealed the location of the money. However, the money isn’t the climax of the movie. Walter makes a decision. He jumps out of the car, and he confront his mother. Watch the decision here.

In our lives, we follow various people: on social media, on the news, in politics, and even in church. We follow many people, but are they all good for us?

The One with the Words of Life

John 6:1-69

Remember what happens? Most of know the story of the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus has compassion on the crowd and he feeds them using only five loaves of bread and two fish.

Do you remember what happens next? What happens after the felt-board characters are placed away? Jesus walks on the water, but after that? Jesus tells the people what it means to truly follow him. He looks at the crowd who followed him after his miracle with the food seeking more. However, he knows that seeking more food won’t satisfy, and through his words many people leave.

John 6:60-69 reveals how many followers left Jesus that day. When he turned to the twelve asking them why they hadn’t abandoned him. Peter (Yes, Peter who sticks his foot into his mouth) says, “Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Peter knew where the truth was. He knew who held the words of life. He saw Jesus as the Word (John 1:1). Peter saw Jesus as the Word in flesh (John 1:14). Though Peter fell, he knew Jesus was the one with the words of life. Even after denying Jesus, Peter knew who had the words of life (John 21:1-7). He dove into the water, and swam to Jesus.

The Ones who Bear the Words of Life

Once Jesus went to heaven, the apostles (including Paul) now had the words of life. They went out into all the world giving people this word. Paul (in particular) wrote two letters to Timothy and Titus. Paul was a torch bearer for Jesus. He continued giving the words of life. His two “sons in the faith” (specifically Timothy) did not stray, but kept the faith by returning to Paul to receive more of the words of life. Paul himself was not the word of life, but gave what Jesus told him (1 Corinthians 1:10-31).

He did not give his own rendition of the words of life. He preached Jesus. This is what Timothy and Titus looked to and clinged to.

The Ones who Change the Words of Life

However, we are warned in Scripture that not everyone will hold up the words of life as taught by Jesus. The whole book of Jude (only 25 verses) warns us that false teachers will arise. These teachers change the words of life and lead others astray. Romans 16:17-18 warns us these teachers will use smooth words to change us and lead us to a different “word of life.”

Just like in Secondhand Lions, Walter is promised a new life with his mom, whom he wants to be with the entire movie. However, he realizes where her path is leading. Her path was leading him into a life he did not want.

Even in our lives, there are those who want to lead us down a wrong road. They change the words of life in the Bible. They emphasize things Scripture does not emphasize. They feed us a culture of fear and image; while Jesus did not.

Teachers of the Word who put their own traditions and cultures above God’s life giving Words are false teachers. They would rather see their movement and their image live on rather than see people walking in the freedom Jesus offers.

Who in our lives is doing this to us? And do we see it?

Returning to the Porch

At the end of Secondhand Lions, Walter returns to the old house of his great uncles. He rests on their porch to continue hearing their life lessons. Walter knew he found where he belonged, and who really knew how to live (including flying through a barn upside down).

We are the same way. Many people pull at us. Many people try to force us down a road claiming to have the words of life. Instead, we need to jump out of the car, and return to the porch of those we know really do have the words of life as Jesus taught (and as the apostles taught). How do we know who to follow? The answer is found in II Timothy 2:15. We need to personally study out the Bible and test what is being said and taught. Everyone around us claims to know what is best for our lives, and we follow. This is not a good strategy when we disregard II Timothy 2:15.

In my own life I had to realize this. Many people were telling me which way to go with my life and how to live and walk with Jesus. I was given theologies and books and sermons. Yet, had I taken everything back to God’s Word? Once I did, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see the truth, because I went to where truth was found. Then, I realized I had to jump out of the car, and return to the porch of those who really gave me the words of life and by their actions showed me they really did have them. They were the ones who showed me what Jesus was all about – a relationship; not a label. I have to sit on their porch and learn from them. I thank God for showing me this lesson.

Each of us have people influencing our lives. Who is the person you need to sit down on their porch with a root beer and listen to? Who is really giving you the words of life?

Are you willing to jump out of the car, and return to their porch? When we do, we will be able to learn how to live out the words of life and really live.

Ending Scene to Secondhand Lions

Author: Stephen Field

Living with a disability while pursuing the truth of God's Word and proclaiming it. I am married and enjoying each adventure with my wife. It is a life together, or not at all. I have a BA in Youth Ministry (minor in French), a MA in Cross-Cultural Studies (Ministry Studies). I have worked as an interim youth pastor, substitute taught in public schools, speech instructor, book retail worker, and restaurant host. My passion is to see Christians be able to use their Bible and interact with the world around them based on the foundation of God's Truth.

2 thoughts on “Returning to the Porch”

  1. My worst false teacher, who has told me the most lies and caused me most harm has been, well, myself… Even when others told me lies, I had the final word, so to speak, to receive them and believe in them, or to test them against the Word of God. It is interesting that these last few days I have felt the need to go back to reading the Gospels looking for Jesus’ words. As you said, a relationship, not a label.

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  2. I am SO proud of you and your radical journey of rediscovering what a relationship with God is truly about. Glad that you shared a personal experience here. In my life, this has also been a challenge. Many have tried to mold and shape me. Some still try. I have realized that, when we are true to a wholehearted pursuit of God and His desires, He will in fact place those desires in us. He places a “compass of direction” deep within when we pursue Him thoughtfully and passionately. Then, it is up to us to trust that direction and forsake all other directions. LUKE 14:26 and ROMANS 3:3-4 echo the need to follow this pursuit of God and forsake the emulations, influence, and directions of humans, even those who claim to love us most. They may very well not intend harm but that does not mean we should give them the space to mold our path. Be loyal to NO ONE but God. And, if you’re not sure what God wants, don’t stop seeking Him until you KNOW. Thank you for sharing.

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