Thursday, April 30, 2009

Luke 5 -- Left Everything

Here in Luke 5 we get the account of Jesus assembling the 12. First we have Simon, who later is called Peter, then James and John the sons of Zebedee. They are all fishermen. They were carrying on the family trade which means they were not considered the best of the best in their Hebrew schooling. In other words they were anybodies, like you and I. After those three we find Jesus calling a tax collector to be a part of the 12, Levi. To those in the religious establishment, and most Jews, this was not only a shocking choice but a slap in the face, tax collectors notoriously extorted money from the people. No included in Luke 5 we know some interesting characters end up in the 12. Judas who would betray Jesus. Thomas the one known as the doubter. This was a rag tag bunch.

Some have said the 12 left everything and followed Jesus because they had nothing to lose. A little research shows this to be a crazy idea. The fishermen had a solid business. Levi was doing fine with tax collecting. So why did they follow? There are many fancy reasons to give, yet I think the most simple is they were called. When the proposal of Jesus met their ears, and their hearts, they knew this is what they were made to do. So without hesitation they left everything a followed.

In our Western American context we see everything and think about their jobs, families, security and possibly their future. We tend to look at the material. Sure they left that behind but they were also leaving behind less tangible things like the old life. A life ruled by The Law and by human ritual. They were leaving behind oppression and Roman control. They left everything, for the opportunity to follow Jesus as the Kingdom of God was unfolding right in front of them. New life was their new aim, they left everything else behind.

How about you? Are you not following the call of Christ because you are too focused on the material things in life? I may not even know you, but I know God is calling you right now. Will you follow?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Luke 4 -- Off And Running

Luke 4 offers to us the very first stages of Jesus public mission. In chapter 3 he is baptized, chapter 4 starts with the temptations. In the temptation story comes one of the biggest duh statements in all of Scripture. After 40 days and nights of fasting, Jesus was hungry. Most of us get hungry if we do not eat for a day much less 40 days and nights. From those temptations Jesus launches into the mission field preaching, teaching, healing, and generally setting people free.

In his first church service we find Jesus reading from Isaiah, and the people really like what he has to say. Then it takes a tragic twist as Jesus won't do what the people want, so they plan to throw him off a cliff. Luke tells us Jesus simply walked through the crowd away from the cliff and went on with the tour.

From the church service Jesus goes to the next town and the mission continues. Healings, exorcisms, teaching on and one. In fact Jesus works through the night serving the needs of the people. Then he withdraws from the crowd to collect his thoughts. The people want him back where he was, but Jesus keeps moving.

As Jesus launched the mission, he starts off fast and furious. Still his pace is fast but not reckless. Jesus knows exactly where he is going and what he is going to do when he gets there. The will of the people was not his guiding principle. The mission of Jesus was not a democratic process. The best way to describe it is Jesus the benevolent leader of the new kingdom. The people, you and me, are not the ones who call the shots, Jesus is. Our job is to keep us, even now Jesus knows exactly where he is going and what he is going to do when he gets there. The question is still the same today as when Luke is recounting, will we align with Jesus agenda?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Luke 3 -- Kingdom of Justice

For the first time in the Gospel of Luke we get a close interaction with John the who baptizes. He is called by God to prepare the people for the coming Christ. In actuality the Christ is already on the earth, but the true mission is about to kick in. I like John, he is bold, he is rugged, and he is willing to put it out there for people.

We find John calling people to repentance, to turn around their lives and follow God. His challenge, often missed, is to not only be changed by words but to be transformed by our actions. The charge in verse 8 is to "produce fruit in keeping with repentance." This is a call to do more than attend church, this is a call to do more than simply live a good live. This is a call to live like members of the Kingdom of God. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, provide for the poor, the widow and the orphan. In the kingdom John is calling us to, god's kingdom, is one where people are not property, and every human life is worth full value because they are a creation of God.

John was a quirky man in the wilderness telling others to get ready for what God was doing. He understood he was just a messenger, the true revelation of God was not in him, but in Jesus. Jesus was baptized and his mission on earth began. That mission was not primarily about salvation, but about how we live. Are we living the transformed life or are we a group of religious people who talk a good game and do nothing?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Luke 2 -- His Own Agenda

Here in Luke 2 we get Luke's view of how the birth of Jesus came about. We also get a look at a few incidents from the early years of Jesus. Simeon and Anna give great witness to the work that lie ahead for Jesus. Then we enter a time warp and move to when Jesus was 12. On one of their regular trips to Jerusalem Mary and Joseph lose track of Jesus, but assume he was with the group headed back to Nazareth. Jesus has a different plan.

And thus begins Jesus working from his own agenda and not the agenda of others. Throughout the rest of Jesus life there are people telling him how he is suppose to function and what it really looks like to be the Messiah. This tradition carries into our day. We have all at one point, possibly many points, told Jesus with words, actions or expectations, how to be the Messiah. Just like with the 12 year old Jesus, there is a different agenda, and we are not the ones who set it. Jesus works from his own agenda.

It is not that Jesus is formed in our image. Not that Jesus needs to become more like us, rather we must become more like Jesus. What does that mean. We need to be in the places he would be, be around the people Jesus would be around, and live like Jesus lived. The goal of following Jesus is not to get Jesus to fit our agenda, that is religion. The goal is to conform our lives and agenda's to Jesus. Not easy, but it is our call.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Luke 1 -- Not The Only One

Our friend Dr. Luke has much to write here in the opening chapter of his Gospel account. I could focus on John the Baptist, or even on the annunciation to Mary about Jesus. Yet there is a portion which I think is often overlooked. This overlooked passage could cause some trouble for some of the Followers of Jesus.

The passage I am talking about is in the first 4 verses. Luke highlights he is not the only one who is writing the account of Jesus life and mission. Luke acknowledges this was an account that had been handed to him, and he has done detailed research into the events of which he is writing. These 4 little verses just fascinate me this morning. Luke is the only Gospel writer we have who admits there are several people who are doing the very thing he is doing. To me this means more than Matthew, Mark and John. The fact is we know that more than the four accounts we have in the Bible were undertaken.

Does this diminish the power of the Gospels? Does this mean that they are not God's word? These are weighty questions. The power of the Gospels are still full. The accounts they share with us continue to show humanity the longing God has for us to live in fulfilled relationship with our Creator. The accounts continue to show humanity the extent to which God is willing to go for us to experience the Kingdom of God. Their power is in no way diminished.

As for the God's word question. This is a much more difficult one. Even with Luke's revelation about the origins and reasons behind his writing, I think it is safe to say that these are the words God intended for us to hear. They are the Words God placed in the heart of Luke to share with humanity. Are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John the only ones who have written words from God intended for humanity? No. To this day there are words written intended for humanity from God. The difference between these words and The Gospel accounts of the Bible is prayerful selection. While not the only words God intends us to hear, they are the Word, God uses to draw humanity back. The words are of the Gospel are complete, and we would need nothing more to re-establish our relationship with God. They have been set apart for this holy purpose.

So all the other writings, read them, they can teach about Jesus and his early followers. Do we put them in the same place and the Biblical Gospels, I do not think that is the right question. We have what we have in the Bible, it has been discerned and set apart. The 66 books of the Bible are the primary texts of our lives. All the other writings, and meant to add to what the 66 contain.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hey Jude

Here we have the second book written by a half brother of Jesus. Remembering in earthly terms it is only possible to be Jesus half brother. Jude at some point has gone through quite a conversion to the ways of his brother. In the Gospel accounts we see the family of Jesus, save his mother, ridiculing and challenging Jesus. Now Jude writes in the name of not just his brother, but his leader and redeemer.

While Jude was writing a couple thousand years ago, the writing could be speaking, in fact is, to us today. Basically what it all comes down to is people will follow their own desires. We as humanity left unchecked will begin to model and behave in ways inconsistent with being part of the kingdom of God. We are encouraged to hold to our faith, pray and wait with expectation for the return of Christ. Further, while we wait we are to live lives full of mercy, love and holiness.

In light of the charge to live such a lofty life, it is obvious we will fall short. Then we get to the sending.
"To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy-- to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!" (Jude 24-25 NIV emphasis mine)
It is through Jesus and Jesus alone that we have a chance of being presented without fault. We cannot attain holiness in our own effort, it is only through the work of the One who calls us. Also note the sending ends with an exclamation. There is joy in this proclamation. These are words that should fire us up. are you fired up? Or did you just read another section of scripture, ho hum?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

3 John -- Why Bother

As I read through 3 John I kept coming back to the same question, why bother. It has all of 14 verses, and seems like a letter between friends that starts to say something, but then it doesn't. Why was is thought of as important to include this little note with all the other portions of the Scriptures?

To be honest I am not real sure, but I do know it is there and a part of what is offered to us. So what does it say? It celebrates the faithfulness of the people of God, and it warns against following this guy Diotrephes. Apparently Diotrephes was leading people astray and not playing nice. The most significant issue is found in the fact that Diotrephes would not have fellowship with the believes. We don't know whether he was believer of not, we do know he was acting like one.

The main theme of the letter is to say, I know things are rough, hang in there. When I come to visit I will address all the issues straight on. So what are we to gain? One thing, for centuries there has been a struggle for the followers of Christ to get along. Second, encouragement goes a long way.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

2 John -- Warning

It is always fun to be able to say we have read an entire book in about 2 minutes. Though it is small and quick to read there is great power in the few words that are shared. The writer is sending this letter to a church, and the people of that church from another church. The main tone of the letter is encouragement, to hold fast to what has begun.

Though written thousands of years ago, the words ring true today. There are many who would sound very convincing about the things of God. Many who would want to lead us astray from the commands and works of God. The challenge is we are hungry. Not always for food but for meaning and significance. These false teachers offer much in the way of significance, yet they rarely deliver it. We must hold fast to what Christ has taught. We must not rest in the words of men and women, we must rest only in the words of God. If anyone would claim to speak for God, we should test that with what God has already said and done.

So today I say to you the reader, stay strong. Be vigilant, there are many voices calling for our attention. Remain deeply rooted in what God has begun to do in you life. Finally, I cannot wait to see what God is doing in this day and age for those who remain in God.

1 John 5 -- Tough Love

In the book of James we find the encouragement to not only be hearers of the word, but to do what it says. The writer of 1 John is giving the same encouragement with a twist. Here we find love entered into the equation. If we love God than we will do what God commands.

This is no small task. Sure it is easy to say we love God, and any good little church goer would confirm this is how we are suppose to feel about God. There is however a major problem, words are cheap. Actions, now there is the real payoff. If we love God we will do what he commands. So that would mean we love like God loves and the people God loves. That would mean we would be found in works of mercy, service and justice. It means that we the people of God, would be the embodiment of God's commands. All of a sudden love is not so easy.

At the core of this kind of love is to remember God is God and we are not. To love God fully we must deny what we think is our rights and submit, ouch, to the teachings of God and live according to those teachings. This is in no way shape or form easy, still it is what is required of us.

Monday, April 20, 2009

1 John 4 -- God's Love and Ours

Chapter 4 has a brief discussion about testing the spirits, acknowledging that not every spirit at work in our world is of God. Quickly the discussion turns to the topic of love. There is quite a contrast between our love and the love God has.

God's love is perfect and true, our love is often flawed and ill motivated. Which brings the question, do we love God simply out of love, or is it because of what God does for us? Further, if we do not sense God is doing anything in our lives, then does the lover we feel for God diminish? The sad truth in my life is all too often the love I feel for God is dependent upon if God is doing what I expect God to do. There is no sugarcoating this, that is simply the wrong relationship. The love we have for God should be based only on the fact the God is God.

But how do we know what love is? We know because God showed us what love is by creating us, redeeming us and sustaining us. But wait isn't that love based on what God is doing? Yes and no. Yes in that these are actions that God alone can complete. No in that they are not performance based. The acts of creation, redemption and sustaining are not necessarily the love of God, they are the signs of, or results of God's love for us. The usual for us is we expect if God loves us, God will cause life to work out on our terms. This is extremely flawed.

We must love God for being God, nothing more and nothing less. While God shows that love through creation, redemption and sustaining us, we show the love we have for God by the ways we are in relationship with the others, everyone, who God created. Anything less and we are not in love with God.

1 John 3 -- Sin and Love

I am back. I took a few days apart with Sarah and then I was teaching at a men's retreat. No I have a little catch up to do. So here we go. 1 John 3 has two main themes that might not seem connected. First, there is the discussion about sin and our connection with God. Then there is the discussion about loving other people. On the surface they may seem like two different thoughts, however they are deeply connected.

When sin is allowed to run rampant in our lives, nothing good comes from it. Additionally, it is not like we can prevent sin in our lives, yet we can help to prevent it from controlling our lives. When sin is controlling our lives we become separated from God. the longer we allow sin to run our lives, the greater the separation from God. It seems pretty simple.

Ah then there is the love part. Followers of Christ understand we are called to love each other, even further to love all people. That out of love Christ laid down his life for us, and we are to be willing to do the same for other people. A hallmark of Christianity is love.

So how do those people go together? If sin is running your live, you will be moving apart from God. If you are running apart form God, you will have a lower capacity to love other people. Where the is sin, there is less love in relationships. Our ability to love each other is found in our ability to keep sin at bay.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

1 John 2 -- Worldy

There are so many things I have yet to learn about following Christ. One of the things I have always struggled with is the connection to the world. WE are admonished to not be worldly, at the same time we are told to be in the world and not of the world. So I have always wondered what is the appropriate relationship between a Christ Follower and the world.

First, not everything in the world is bad. There are some groups of Christ followers who would have us believe everything in the world is bad, and we should avoid the things of this world as much as we can. However, the world and the things in it are not all bad, we must remember that it is God who created the world, and continues to develop the people who populate our world.

Second, there are some things that need to be avoided. While not everything is the world is bad and needs to be avoided, there are some things which are better not engaged with. There is no room for violence, injustice and disenfranchisement when following Christ. The world around us tends to specialize in these things.

So what are we to do? Remember whose we are. When we follow Christ we are called to be transforming agents of the world, and not being transformed by the world. We should have a connection with the world, its arts, its people, everything in it. However, we should be connected through the transforming love and grace of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

1 John 1 -- A Liar!?

We now move from the Gospel of John to the letters from John. Theories abound on if it is the writer of the Gospel, or another John, or even someone else all together. As far as I am concerned, who really cares. What matters more is the words that have been preserved. Truth is truth no matter who pens it.

He in the opening of this letter we find the writer jumps right in, making it clear that to walk with God is to walk in the ways of light and not darkness. At times the passage runs the risk of sounding a little new age with all the light and dark talk. Basically it boils down to call us to live a life of righteousness. More specifically, if we are in Christ, we must live differently than we did when we had not realized Christ's presence in our lives.

Then we get to the human struggle. No matter how hard we try, perfection eludes us. There is great hope of perfection, yet the daily practice of life finds us short of the goal. So what are we to do? Do we ignore it? Do we simply accept it as a part of the human condition? Scriptures would tell us to confess it. If we were able to life a life of perfect righteousness, without the grace and work of God, then Jesus is pointless. More than that if we pretend we can live without sin in our lives, Jesus is a liar.

So if we are going to have sin in our lives and that is one of the main reasons Jesus came, then we should just accept it and celebrate forgiveness and redemption through Christ. So close but not quite. We should celebrate forgiveness and redemption through Christ. However, we must not simply accept the sin and our life. Yes Jesus atoned for our sin at the cross. Jesus also called us to righteous living well before the cross came into play. While the issue of sin will be ever present, we are not to disregard it for the sake of Jesus Christ. To honor the work of Christ would be to live our lives in the pattern that was shown to us. This means working to ruthlessly eliminate sin from our lives.

The only way to perfection is through Jesus Christ. Without his life, death and resurrection, we would all be lost for eternity. This however does not give us permission to ignore the things that separate us from God.

Monday, April 13, 2009

John 21 -- What's iIt To You

As you have noted already if you are a regular reader, most of these chapters have too much in them to fit into one blog entry. John 21 is not exception. There are several different points that catch my attention, but the most intriguing for me is after Jesus reinstates Peter, they have a conversation about John, the disciple Jesus loves.

The title the disciple Jesus loves is an interesting enough topic, but for another day. Today my focus is on the interchange between Jesus and Peter regarding John's death. Jesus basically says what's it to you? Almost to say, "Peter your a bright guy and through you I will do many great things, but there is a limit." You see Jesus just told Peter how Peter was going to die, and Peter wanted to know if he would have company.

This is that whole sovereignty of God thing. Basically, God is God and we are not. Therefore God is under no obligation to do things the way we want them done, or let us know things we want to know. Another way to say it, God is the person with the plan not humanity. Peter is told to stop worrying about what will happen to others, and focus on the mission at hand.

I wonder how often we are worried about what someone else is going to get or not get and miss what God is telling us to do?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

John 20 -- The Big Moment

I have waited until today to enter on the John 20 passage. As I sit at my computer the Sunrise service is still over an hour away, and the sleep is still a little crusty in my eyes. It is all worth it as it is Easter morning. The tomb could not hold him.

I am always amazed by the different responses. Mary Magdalene, holds on to Jesus. The others lock themselves in a room filled with fear. Thomas was getting a sandwich when Jesus came into the room, so he missed it. He would not believe until he saw it for himself. how about you? How do you react to the best news ever, Christ has risen!!

If Christ had still been in the tomb, basically he would have been a liar. Additionally he would have been just another dead prophet. Yet he was not there. What does that mean? It means Jesus is the Messiah. Now many theories has circulated throughout the centuries as to what happen to Jesus body. None of them add up. The only one which holds water, takes faith, and belief in the teachings before his death. He has Risen!

Like the disciples we have been given the peace of God, he has breathed on us the Holy Spirit, and he has sent us just as he was sent. Resurrection means we have new life, not for our own but for the sake of transforming the world to realized the Kingdom of God is at hand.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

John 19 -- The Second Biggest Moment

For many in their faith journey the cross is the primary focus. Everything comes back to the cross of Christ. I will not debate the importance of the acts described in John 19. Without the events of the trial and crucifixion, we would still be liable to God for sin. However, the crucifixion is not the most important moment. Easter morning is the most important moment in all of history. If the the body of Jesus was still in the tomb, Friday would have simply be another Roman execution. The cross, very important, but the second most important moment.

Having said that, what are you taking to the cross this year? What is it in your life that needs to die, and find new, transformed life on Easter morning? The next few days are the most important days in the life of the people of God who follow Christ, but they are not memorial days. The movement from Holy Thursday to Easter Morning, is to be a journey we take new each time. In my life I never have trouble finding what I need to offer.

I invite you to consider the final meal of Jesus, and what the means for you. I invite you to ponder the cross and what that means for you. An I invite you to explode with joy on resurrection morning. None of this as a memorial celebration, all of it as a celebration of what God is doing right now through Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

John 18 -- Different Kind of Kingdom

John 18 is John's telling of the arrest and beginning of Jesus' trail. Twice there are events which help us see that Jesus was working under a different model of Kingdom. When Peter cuts off the servant's ear, and the conversation with Pilot.

When Peter slices the ear off of Malchus, he is working out of a Roman worldview. One where kingdoms are established by violence and bloodshed. Jesus quickly rebukes Peter, as that is not the kind of kingdom Jesus works in. Jesus willingly allows the mob to take him. He knows this is exactly why he was on earth. So the kingdom of God is seen against the kingdoms of this world.

Later when Jesus is being interviewed by Pilot, Jesus says, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight..." in response to Pilot's question "Are you king of the Jews?". The kingdom Jesus describes would be completely foreign to Pilot. What kind of kingdom can exist that will not use force to defend its king? Again Jesus says for this I was born, this is why I am here, to show the world how a true kingdom works.

I wonder if this Easter we have lost sight of the kind of kingdom we are a part of. We look at the world around us and it is not that different that the world Jesus was in. Violence rules the day, and the economy of oppression threatens the livelihood of the common person. The question is, are we looking to the right kingdom to save us? It is not found in a government, it is not found in a war, it is not found in an economy. The true kingdom is the kingdom of God, and it is a very different kind of kingdom. Which kingdom are we participating in?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

John 17 -- How Cool

Like many in the Bible this is one of my favorite scripture passages. Not because of the convicting teaching, not because Jesus is sticking it to the religious establishment. No this is one of my favorite because here we see the heart of Jesus just before he would die on our behalf and raise to new life that we too might gain new life. In this section we find Jesus in prayer, for himself, for the disciples, and for all those who would follow until the glorious return. Jesus prayed for me!

If you are a follower of Jesus, he prayed for you in that moment. You were on the mind of Christ mere hours away from the cross. It is fascinating the prayer he offers. It is a prayer of unity, not that we may dominate the world, not that we would become the societal force directing everything. No, Jesus prayed we would have unity that we might show the world that Jesus is real and true. That God had a plan in sending Jesus, and that plan was to see men and women come together with God at the center.

As we look toward the cross and ultimately the new life of resurrection, I find it beyond encouraging, almost exciting that Jesus would pray for me.

Monday, April 6, 2009

John 16 -- Trouble

Most of my life in the church I have been made to believe if I trust Christ my life will turn out not only easy but the way I want it to. I don't think I am alone, in fact I am pretty sure there are many people who would tell others this same religious line. The problem is, it simply is not true. Following Christ is not easy all the time. Part of the reason it is difficult can be found in the fact that Christ functions so radically different than the world around us.

If Christ, the one we are following, is radically different from the world around us, then we too should be different from the world around us. A funny thing about cultures and societies, they rarely welcome ideas or people who function differently. Followers of Jesus Christ should have some difficulty in this world, because our value system is so different. Jesus teaches us that in order for there to be joy, grief and sorrow must come first. In order for us to receive the Holy Spirit, we must first see our leader return to God.

This is essentially what Jesus is teaching in John 16. The world is going to be tough on followers of Christ, but we must remember that Christ has overcome the world. It is not going to be easy, not everything is going to work out as we plan. Not everyone is going to like us, in fact some may even try to harm us. But Christ has overcome. Isn't that what we look forward to at Easter?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

John 15 -- Against The Grain

John 15 starts out with the wonderfully poetic and powerful passage about the vine and the branches. This boils down to remembering your role, God is the gardener, Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. God prunes and cares, Jesus is the primary source of live, and the branches produce fruit.

The second half of John 15 is not hit upon quite as often. Contained in these words are some hard teachings. If you are of the world, it will love you, but if you are of Jesus, the world will hate you. Jesus understood he is calling people to live against the grain of current life. It is almost as if Jesus looked around, did an assessment and decided if these people really do this, the world. society, is not going to like this.

I am all for being culturally relevant. In fact I think it is one of the top priorities of the church today. At the same time, I want nothing to do with functioning just like the world around us. The church is to function in a way that transforms culture, not comes along side of it. Jesus makes no illusions about this being easy, that is why he warns, the world will hate your because they first hated me. When we go against the grain and society pushes back we tend to whine and complain. The reality is, we should see that coming, that is the response our leader got.

Life is not all roses, it is not all easy. There are times when it will be downright hard and we will feel like no one likes us. That is just a glimpse of what our savior went through, and in that is our light and life.

John 14 -- Whose Your Daddy?

Throughout the teachings of Jesus we find this difficult piece about Jesus and God being one in the same. Here in John 14 this seems to be the highlighting thought in Jesus teaching. I find much encouragement in this, not directly the teaching, rather in the response of the disciples to this teaching. They have been with Jesus for the better part of three years. Heard all the teaching, watched most of the miracles live and in person, yet there is a lingering doubt about this God, Jesus connection.

This idea of God being fully present in Jesus, more than that, they are one. This is something we have no real experience of. Sure we all play multiple roles in life, but we are not the full presence of a being which created the world. If someone where to come around saying that they are fully human and fully God today, we would have them locked up either as crazy or as a threat to society, or both. Yet that is exactly the claim Jesus makes. So is he right, is he crazy, is he a threat to society?

Is he right? This is the essence of the faith question, either Jesus is who he says he is, or he is a liar. There is much room for gray area in our journey, this is not one of those places. Either Jesus is God, or he is an egomaniac. We must chose what we not only will believe, but what we will follow. For me I have placed my trust in Jesus being right, and I am doing my level best to follow.

Is he crazy? Yup, in the good kind of way. Not in the get this guy a counselor kind of way. Jesus was willing to challenge the everyday thinking with no regard for his well being. Even after several threats to his life, and encouragement from the disciples to scale back the effort, Jesus continues. I call this a good kind of crazy.

Is he a threat to society? Absolutely. If we really understand a follow Jesus we can see our society needs transformation. Jesus whole ministry was counter-cultural. He was inviting the world to function differently. Jesus was a threat to society as people have known it and as we currently know it. If we the followers of Jesus live out the life Jesus showed us, society as we know it will be transformed.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

John 13 -- True Confidence

Now the Gospel of John makes a dramatic shift toward the cross. The whole book points to the cross, but now in chapter 13 the move becomes more deliberate. Jesus begins by washing the feet of the disciples. As he gets ready to do this there is a quick line offered by John which is easy to miss, but says the whole thing. "Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God ans was returning to God."(v3)

What would you do if you realized God had placed everything under your power? If all of creation was at your beck and call, would you make your first mighty act kneeling and washing the feet of those around you? Interestingly, the Romans saw Caesar as the one who God had given power over everything. Yet, Caesar uses that power to control, manipulate and oppress. Jesus uses that power to serve and bring freedom.

Jesus is able to be such a servant, not just to the 12, but to you and I, because he was confident in who he was and is. Jesus did not have to worry about impressing others. He didn't have to worry about what others might say. Jesus knew that all of creation was at his fingertips, and because of that he could serve people without reservation. True confidence was the guide.

We often struggle in serving like Jesus because we are placing confidence in false places. We too have all of creation at our fingertips, not by our doing, but through God. Still we function like we must be the ones who make it happen. Our confidence in our ability, or lack the of, to make things happen. Only confidence that comes from knowing who God is, and what God has made available to us is true confidence. Everything else will come up short and leaves wanting.