I'm writing to all my friends who have not quite figured out the virtue of patience. Listen, I know my patience should be bigger.
The More: Finding what it really means to live like Jesus
Isn’t it a joy to know Jesus? Whatever your upbringing, whether you grew up in church or you just came to Jesus (or you’re reading this and maybe do not know Him)…the moment you meet Him, it’s love at first sight.
For me, Jesus is the One who I have known for almost all my life.
Introduced to me as a young child, I decided to really give my life to Him at 8 years old and every season I know Him in a different way.
This season I’m starting to dig deeper in to seeking and finding out, what He really wants? I’m not just going to assume I know what it looks like to walk with Jesus. I want to find out from Him, what is your heartbeat. How do you want your followers to walk. So even if it’s been over 22 years for me to know Him, its as though it’s in a fresh, new way.
I’ve been reading a book about the importance of reading the Bible in its cultural context. Within this book, the author took an account in the Bible and had his students read it, close the book and recite the account back to him in their words. He found that each group included parts of the story that were more common in their culture, but overlooked parts that were more important in the original context. For example. Famine was included in the account, but those from the United States overlooked this fact, because it was something that was not in culture or has affected that generation as a whole. But students from other developing countries, in retelling this account, would always include the famine, because it was something they experienced.
I really believe believers in Jesus are waking up to a different way of doing things. A different way of conducting daily life. And I think it’s a beautiful reconstruction.
Just like the students in the previous story got a lot of the main points of the scriptural account, but left out important details, we as Christians have gotten really good at that in our Christian walk.
And I think a lot of the places we’ve missed it is not because we did on purpose, but possibly because it was what was in our culture.
We’ve gotten really good at going to conferences, hosting our programs, attending church…all of which are very vital in our lives as Christians, but not the whole.
We’ve gotten really good at putting preachers on pedestals thinking they are the epitome of life, a goal only the most spiritual could be, and the only ones who God places as effective laborers in the great harvest.
We’ve gotten really a good at “building church and ministries” but forgetting the lost.
These are all things that if someone read a guidebook of what it looks like to be a Christian (aka the Bible), they got the gathering,church part but we’ve left out some pretty important details of what It really means to be a follower of Jesus.
I hope you understand, I love conferences, I love gatherings, I love Christians programs!
I think they are wonderful gifts and are part and a joy of being a follower of Jesus. But friend, I know there’s more. And God even says there’s more, so it’s important to listen:
“The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”
What is amazing is in order to do the “more”, we actually have to spend more time amongst people that don’t look like your typical “church” people. My 13 year old self-religious self is gasping right now.
And before you do the same thing, just take a moment and think about how Jesus conducted His life. How many times was He in the home of a sinner? How many times were the religious and self righteous offended that He actually didn’t just love them from afar but actually ATE with them. Considered them as his friends.
I heard someone say once, if the only people in our contact lists are Christians, we are missing something. I think he’s right. To be honest, I look through my phone book and I have maybe 2-3 non-Christians. I pray for the opportunities to meet those who do not know Jesus, not to convert them as though they were just projects to put on a scoreboard, but to be their friend. To show them the love of Jesus.
Because I believe once you encounter the love of Jesus, you are changed and want to follow.
I’m not saying go to wild living for the sake of loving people who don’t know Jesus.
But I am saying to have a heart open to not only love someone that doesn’t believe the same as you, but would you dare to know them?
I want someone who doesn’t have a relationship with Jesus to never feel judged in my presence, only loved.
Of course it’s important to be strong and solid in what You believe, and never hide that. But it is possible to fully love someone you don’t agree with. I’ve seen it done.
Jesus never went back on the truth, but spoke it in love to whoever would listen.
And It’s His goodness that drew men to Himself.
10 years ago I would have read this and considered it wrong. But once you see Jesus’ heart for the outcast, the one who couldn’t do anything for Him, you can’t look away.
So what is the more in our Christian lives? First, we simply love Jesus. and that love is what leads us to lives created for Justice. People. Lifting and loving the oppressed. The orphan. The widow. Not being afraid to love the one who is not in your circle.
This is a radical, beautiful life and it’s one worth living.