"Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." James 1:22 (NKJV)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Week 7: Listen to Him!, Part 2

Almost two thousand years after Jesus was crucified, the world is still fascinated and bewildered by Him. As was true during Jesus's ministry on earth, many people try to use Him and His message to advance their own agendas. He is misunderstood more often than he is understood. Even those who claim to follow him often can't agree on what he meant or what he was like.

My assignment for the last week was to spend as much time as possible in the Gospels. I didn't complete my goal of reading all four gospels. I read the Gospels of Matthew and John. Because I spent an extraordinary amount of time in the car this week, I was able to listen to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and John via my new Word of Promise Audio Bible. I capped off the week last night by watching Mel Gibson's film, The Passion of the Christ.

One week of reading and listening to the Gospels does not make me an expert in Christology, but I do feel that I know Jesus a little better. I kept notes as a I read and listened this week, and, for what they're worth, here are a few observations I scribbled down about the person of Jesus. He was:

  • Spirit-led
  • Word empowered
  • confrontational
  • approachable
  • a friend of the humble
  • shrewd
  • strategic
  • loving
  • forgiving
  • difficult to understand
  • concerned about the hearts of men, not their appearances
  • submissive to His Father
  • a humble servant
  • courageous
  • disciplined
  • always leading by teaching, showing, challenging and correcting
A few things stood out to me this week about Jesus's message. His message was one of hope for the poor and humble but a warning to the powerful and proud. His message was not only an invitation to receive grace through faith in Him, but also was a call to complete surrender, submission, and obedience. Jesus's message was not intended to persuade the world to follow Him, but to call those whom his Father had already given Him. He was not afraid to offend people or to turn people away who came to Him for wrong reasons. Jesus was a disciple maker, not a crowd gatherer.

I never understood before this week that Jesus's ministry was constantly beset by troubles. My wife and I belong to a community of believers in St. Louis---City Lights Church. The church was planted about six years ago by a handful of people that moved to St. Louis from Carbondale, Illinois. It's a place where the Bible is taught well, a place where people worship God with passion on Sunday morning and live it out during the week, and a place where people have been healed and restored. Despite everything that is good about City Lights, the church has struggled. It has struggled to grow. It has struggled financially. We have faithful and gifted pastors and overseers. Unfortunately, on several occasions, they've been bitten by their sheep.

This week, I've realized that City Lights is in good company. From the beginning of his ministry, Jesus was at odds with religious leaders. He was misunderstood by His closest followers. Although Jesus sometimes gathered a large following, he was also abandoned by many. He was pursued by people who wanted to use Him. He was betrayed by a close friend. After three years of public ministry, He had only a handful of faithful disciples and even those quickly scattered during His darkest hour. If Jesus faced such difficulties during His ministry on earth, it is not surprising that His church also faces great difficulties.

The last thing that I take from this week is a renewed appreciation for the fact that Jesus loved His friends and disciples with great passion. He demonstrated the magnitude of His love for them on the cross. He calls us to love one another in the same way. My time with Jesus this week, has caused me to examine my own feelings for my Christian brothers and sisters. What I find is that my affections are too cool. My heart is too detached. I pray that God would fan to flame my love and affection for His people.

Next week's assignment is to love my wife, Christina, as Jesus loved the church. Until then, grace and peace to you.