How Did He Do That?

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Contributed by Russ Perkins, Elder Overseer of Communities of Image Church

Luke 14:26 – If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.  [ESV]

John 6:53 – So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”  [ESV]

I know it’s extreme isn’t it?  With messages like that, just how did Jesus get anyone to follow Him at all?  Who could help but wonder (I know I have)?  Let me go ahead and tell you from the outset that I will not give explanations for these tough truths — at least not in this particular blog.  Take a look a Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 (also some really hard teaching for certain).

Here is what I find truly fascinating — that Jesus was able to recruit people to His mission.  How in the world did He do that, given the difficult, at moments even apparently, repulsive nature of His message?  Humanly speaking, He was a nobody, not particularly attractive, and had little or nothing in the way of material possessions.  Yet, He called people to follow Him, and a handful actually did.  For these chosen few, it all began with an invitation that would quickly develop into an intimate relationship.  They were given a direct invite from God incarnate to simply come along and be with Him – to spend time with Jesus so that they could genuinely get to know Him.  That is what He offered so long ago and amazingly still does to/for us even still today.   

John 17:3 – And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.  [ESV]

We have a similar opportunity – we simply must choose to take it.  Just like with the first disciples, His offer still stands.  “Come and follow me.”  It’s now our turn — the ball is in our court — we each must decide.  I can just hear you now — Russ, it’s the 21st century…Jesus walked the earth some 2000 years ago…What are you babbling about…   Jesus first offers the relationship, and then He walks us through His tough truths.  He teaches us what they really mean as we read, pray and study His word, getting to know His people who are on the journey as well.  But the person (Jesus) and a relationship (redemption/reconciliation) precedes the deeper understating of many of these tough truths.

We would do well to follow Jesus’ simple example of befriending people, just helping them – being there for others as the situation dictates.  I think it’s safe to say people don’t want our theology but rather our friendship, or said another way – people might be interested in what we believe once they know we are their authentic friends in whom they can count on.  Once we have established a genuine friendship, the door might perhaps open to share our theology.  And that theology, of course, has at its center as the Gospel, and when a person finally gets a grip on what the Gospel truly is, means, and looks like, nothing is ever quite the same for them.

Mark 10:45 – For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.  [ESV]

It just seems to me that for too long now much of the Church has made it clear what it thinks and not made it nearly clear enough that it honestly cares for or about others.  The truth is, it doesn’t really matter if you are right or if no one is actually listening…  The more I look at Jesus, I think I see He did things differently.  Jesus was full of grace and truth — He loved people right where they were, just as they were and offered an invitation for them to come along in order to discover true meaning, purpose and a better way to live.  Once again, I believe we would be wise to emulate His perfect example.  Not an easy thing to accomplish to be sure, but always worth our best effort as He works in and through us to achieve His ends.

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