Follow the Leader!
Jesus Is Amazing and Amazed
Opening Song(s)/Baptisms [Bobby introduce]
Good morning! I’m Michael Hockett, the Pastor of Adult Ministries.
Joe will be back with us next week, but in the interim I’ll continue
to take us through our summer series in Mark, Follow the Leader.
Today we’ll wade into Mark 6,
where Jesus is amazed by His hometown’s rejection, and I think
many of us will be able to relate to Jesus in this story.
It’s often challenging for us as Christians to talk with our unbelieving
families and close friends about Jesus.
These are the people we most want with us in heaven,
yet they also seem to be those who are most ready to reject
our belief in Jesus, especially if we’re claiming He’s
God the Son, our Lord and Savior, the hope of the world.
This relationship we want to offer to them in Christ is amazing,
but sometimes their rejection of Him and us can be pretty amazing as well!
Before I became a pastor, I was a college English teacher.
My unbelieving family members knew my wife and I were Christians,
and we even talked about our beliefs sometimes.
But for the most part they kept the conversation polite and diplomatic.
I was amazed at how some of their responses changed
once I became a pastor!
I don’t think I said anything new or different regarding Jesus.
And I believe I was just as much a minister for Christ
at the classroom podium as I am at the church pulpit.
But for some of them I had suddenly become way too
serious about Jesus and the church.
I remember having a friendly discussion with an extended family member
about how separated and lonely Americans often are in our culture.
We were agreeing that it’s good to find ways to plug into community.
Then I commented that one of the reasons I find faith in Jesus
so valuable is the community and sense of family
that often emerges amongst those who love and follow Him.
She flipped her hair (I actually still have the image in my head) and said,
“Oh. I’m not interested in that kind of community.
My family and I don’t believe in sin and salvation and all that crap.”
And then she changed the subject.
I had just become a pastor,
she had never been openly hostile to the topic before,
and I was . . . amazed.
She just called my faith and my new profession crap,
with the flip of her hair, to boot!
I’ll confess that my amazement didn’t take on a very
Christ-like form. I was ticked off!
My first thought was, “I hope you like hot climates.”
But then Christ immediately convicted me.
He loves her. And at all other moments when
she’s not bashing my Savior and my life’s pursuit,
I love her, too.
He’s amazing, but she doesn’t know it … yet.
So what we’re going to talk about today, amazingly enough,
is how Jesus experienced this same dynamic in his own hometown
amongst his own family and friends.
We’ll look at what happened,
how it applies to us,
and what we can learn about representing Jesus
to those we know and love.
In just the past couple of weeks we’ve looked at how Jesus
controlled and calmed a hurricane-strength storm,
healed a man possessed by a whole legion of demons,
cured a hemorrhaging woman who merely touched him,
and brought a dead girl back to life.
In many cases those of us who are veteran Christians
have gotten so used to the story of our Lord that
we tend to lose our sense of amazement over these miracles.
We just think, “Of course, it’s Jesus!”
But the people in the historical accounts reveal what our responses
as human beings would be like in real time:
- At the calming of the storm, Scripture records that even the disciples,
who knew Jesus better than anyone, “were terrified and asked each other,
‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’” (Mark 4:41)
- When Jesus healed the demon-possessed man and people saw him “dressed and in his right mind,” “They were afraid.” (Mark 5:15)
- And when He raised the girl from the dead, the Scripture says, “At this they [her parents] were completely astonished” (Mark 5:42). We can easily suppose her parents were profoundly relieved and grateful, too. But their primary reaction is one of astonishment at Jesus.
So look at the common effect Jesus’ actions and presence have on people:
- “They were terrified….” Mark 4:41
- “… they were afraid.” Mark 5:15
- “… they were completely astonished.” Mark 5:42
These reactions of amazement—fear, awe, reverence, astonishment—
are the natural reactions we finite mortals have
when we suddenly realize we’re in way over our heads,
when we realize we’re no longer in control of our world and our lives
. . . and someone or something else is.
These various people get it, because they don’t have any hard-set preconceptions
of who Jesus is, other than He appeared to be just a man . . .
until He started doing things!
Given the evidence right before their eyes, they reacted in amazement
before their minds could even catch up and try to make some kind
of sense of it all. And when sense came,
Jesus was simply all the more amazing!
Now let’s look at Mark 6 to see how those who grew up with Jesus
responded to Him when He began His ministry. It’s …
1. Story time.
Jesus’ neighbors, friends and family have established firm preconceptions
of who He is and what He’s supposed to be doing in life.
And these expectations of who He can and can’t be
get in their way of seeing Him for who He really is.
Jesus left there [the girl’s home] and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
There it is again: amazed—the initial reaction before thought sets in.
The Greek verb is ekplesso, [ek-place-o]
and it indicates something hitting you like a physical blow.
It’s a visceral reaction to something that just blows your mind. . .
(This is a unique capacity I seem to have with my mother-in-law.)
Now the plot in the story starts to thicken.
Look what happens when these folks
who presume they know all about Jesus
start thinking and asking questions.
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
What they say in the original Greek is,
“Who does He think He is, Jesus Christ?”
According to scholars of historical Palestine at Jesus’ time,
that last line, “they took offense at him,”
is redundant for emphasis.
A man’s identity flowed from his father,
even after his father was deceased.
It would have been proper to ask, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”
It was an insult to ask, “Isn’t this Mary’s son?”
We could perhaps argue that Jesus’ neighbors and family
knew and accepted that Jesus was conceived
by the Holy Spirit while Mary was still a virgin.
Then perhaps it would make some sense for them
to call Jesus “Mary’s Son.”
But if they did know and accept that claim,
then why would they be surprised and offended
when Jesus started demonstrating His identity?
Why would they be offended at Him putting on airs
if they had always recognized His divine origins?
Tellingly, although Jesus could have used His power to fully
reveal Himself as God the Son to force their recognition
of His exalted status, He doesn’t.
In fact, He downplays who He is by comparing Himself
to the prophets of old, something His Jewish neighbors,
friends and family could relate to
and kind of get their minds around.
He accommodates their realm of possibilities.
And in the same accommodating manner
He only performs miracles according to their own faith.
He limits Himself to what they’re willing to accept.
Let’s check it out in verse four.
4 Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 And he was amazed at their lack of faith.
Mark’s choice of phrasing is somewhat provoking: What does he mean,
“He could not…”? The pervasive message of the New Testament is
that Jesus could do anything as God the Son.
This same event from Matthew’s perspective helps clarify
some of the dynamics involved here:
And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
Taking Matthew and Mark together,
[Just on the screen for audience notice of “lack of faith”—not read again
And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 And he was amazed at their lack of faith.]
we get the idea that
if Jesus chooses to respond to people’s faith,
then by His own self-limiting choice
He only healed those few people who had faith.
He didn’t try to force people to accept Him
through His miracles.
What I want us to see is that Jesus is utterly amazing,
but He doesn’t typically force Himself on anyone.
He gives us the freedom to choose Him.
Jesus is not a dictator;
He’s a loving Savior and Lord.
Now first and last things in a story get the most emphasis,
so let’s look carefully at verse 6:
And he was amazed at their lack of faith.
At the start of the story the villagers are amazed.
Now it’s Jesus’ turn to be amazed!
Only His form of amazement is a little different.
Remember that Jesus’ words and actions
struck people like a visceral blow.
His friends’ and family’s ability to
rebuff that blow, and reject Him despite it,
left Him in a state of wonder.
The Greek word for what He felt is thaumazō [Thou-mad-zo].
It normally means to wonder in admiration. . . .
I don’t suspect He was feeling any admiration
for His kinsmen at this point, do you?
But their stubborn capacity to deny
divine intervention in their midst
did catch even Him by surprise.
According to the Gospel accounts, two things appear to have amazed Jesus
about people while He was on earth: instances of extraordinary faith
—like the centurion who just needed a word from Jesus
that his servant was healed (Mt. 8:5ff )—
and instances of an extraordinary lack of faith.
This story is one of those latter instances!
Some readers are bothered at this point that Jesus didn’t know
His hometown would reject Him.
If He’s God in the flesh, shouldn’t He have known?
But you know what I like about Jesus being left in wonder?
He doesn’t assume anyone will reject Him. . . .
He’s amazed when we do!
Perhaps it would be helpful for us at this point to have a proper reorientation
as to just who Jesus is from a Scriptural perspective.
Paul writes this about Him:
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
So Jesus is our Creator and sustainer,
and although we’ve rebelled and fallen as a race and as individuals,
His goal is to reconcile us back to Himself for our own good.
He’s willing to die to accomplish this goal, and He does. . . .
Of course He’s amazed when we reject Him!
Only people out of their right minds would do that! . . .
But, then again, we’re rebellious and fallen.
Without Him, we are out of our right minds.
But I’m sure glad He’s amazed at our rejection.
I’m glad He’s not just expecting it and writing us all off!
His amazement allows us time for reconsideration.
His brothers James and Judas (nicknamed Jude), who reject Him now,
later become New Testament authors and church leaders . . . .
So Jesus’ amazement at us is a major form of divine grace
in the face of willful rejection by His own creation.
Trans: Now we’ve been reading a story about Jesus’ home village,
but I keep saying “we” and “us,”
so what does this story have to do with us?
Let’s look at that a little closer:
2. What do the village people have to do with us?
[And I’m not talking about joining the YMCA here!]
One thing this story reveals is how our preconceptions of Jesus
get in our way of really knowing Him for who He is,
for really making Him both Savior and Lord of our lives.
This tendency is true for both unbelievers and believers alike,
especially those of us who grew up in the church
and start to take Jesus for granted because we assume
we’ve got Him and this Christian life all figured out.
We need to quit thinking we know
all there is to know about Jesus,
and take the plunge and actually experience Jesus,
who is unfathomable.
ILL: The Panic Plunge
In June my family went to Silverwood. How many of you have been there?
At the end of the school year, my seven-yr-old’s adult reading buddy
told her she had to do the Panic Plunge sometime this summer.
Being seven, and trusting this volunteer mentor in a way
she’d never trust me…because she knows better…
Sarah decided taking the Plunge was the thing to do.
So when we went to Silverwood, she saw the ride about
halfway through the day and said we had to take it.
My mom said if Sarah would do it, she would join us.
This boosted Sarah’s sense of confidence tremendously.
If Grandma was game, it must be fun! So off we went.
As we were standing in line beneath the Plunge,
Sarah started to notice that people were screaming
in a way that didn’t sound at all like
normal playground screaming.
In fact, it sounded an awful lot like panic.
She looked at me a little concerned, and asked what the ride was like.
I said, “Well, it goes up and down like an elevator,
only you’re seated… And it comes down a little faster.”
Knowing her reading buddy recommended the ride,
She gave me undue credit, and said, “Oh, okay.”
Grandma, being more experienced in the ways of the world,
looked worried. But she was going to be there for Sarah!
About half way up the ride I started to get worried.
140 feet didn’t look nearly so high
from the ground as from the air.
I quit laughing at Sarah and Grandma
and started begging God for deliverance.
We discovered that the ride doesn’t pause for a moment of prayer at the top.
It just hits the top and starts rocketing downward
while your stomach is left above wondering what just happened.
I’m proud to report I didn’t start screaming until I was halfway down.
But that’s only because that’s about the time I caught my breath.
At the bottom everyone reacted the same way:
first a stunned silence; then wild, uncontrollable laughter
at the sheer wonder of being alive!
While we sat there in stunned amazement,
I asked Sarah if she liked the ride. “Oh, yeah!”
So I asked if she ever wanted to do it again. “No way!”
That girl understands the fear of God.
Here’s what I want us to get:
Sarah had heard about the Panic Plunge from her mentor at school.
In her mind, it was some kind of a souped up playground toy.
Then, being the kind father that I am, I reinforced the idea of tameness,
suggesting that it was some kind of a cool elevator,
but a mere elevator nonetheless.
So as she watched it operate from a cool, objective distance,
it looked fun and manageable.
She thought she knew and understood the ride
and what her experience with it should be like.
But when she actually got on the breathtaking,
death-defying, 140-drop of the Panic Plunge,
it only took her about a nanosecond to realize
she wasn’t in Kansas anymore.
This was something beyond all known experience and comprehension.
This was something so amazing that it struck
fear and wonder into her seven-yr-old soul.
Her understanding of the Panic Plunge suddenly went
from one of cool, distant, objective perspective,
to one of an awe-ful, first-hand, subjective experience
that left her amazed just to be alive.
From the biblical accounts, this was the difference
between presuming you knew something about Jesus,
and really taking the plunge with Jesus
in all His divine glory first hand.
His family and friends who assumed they knew Him
completely missed Him.
In essence, they were saying,
“Yeah, yeah, we know all about
The Panic Plunge. It’s no big deal.
It’s just playground equipment, a glorified elevator.
It’s all a bunch of hype.”
But they never dared to take the ride!
They didn’t allow themselves to get past
their preconceptions, put their life in His hands,
and let Him take them for the ride of their lives.
They refused to take the plunge of faith,
and that plunge makes all the difference
between knowing and being amazed by God,
and rejecting God’s revelation of Himself,
and being content with an existence
that’s far far less than He has planned for us.
All Jesus’ neighbors and family saw
was a man they thought they knew all about
who seemed to be making pretenses of divinity.
And their perspective was very rational: a man cannot be God.
But in their rational presumption, they shut off open examination,
and they missed the living God who wanted to
rock their whole world by redeeming their fallen lives,
restoring them to His original perfect vision,
sharing in their lives each day through the Spirit,
and bringing them to live with Him in eternity.
Of course He was amazed they didn’t want that!
There are some of you here today who have been following Jesus
for a long time, perhaps all your life.
And somewhere along the way your faith has grown stale.
You’re coming to these worship services, but your daily life
has grown boring or weary or frustrating.
You may be starting to wonder if Jesus really was just a man after all,
if the critics are right and the biblical stories and claims are just fables.
There are, of course, many notable scholars and leaders
in all fields who still find good reasons to believe the Bible.
But the truth is, the most convincing evidence
that Jesus is the Son of God
is experiencing a relationship with Him
in which you see Him working
in and through your life
and through those around you.
If you’re a Christian and you’ve lost your wonder of who Jesus Christ is,
but you really long to experience Him in amazing ways,
ask Him to start moving in your life . . .
and then start doing what He asks you in turn to do.
That means getting in the Bible daily,
journaling about what speaks to you and convicts you there,
asking God how He wants to work through you,
and then praying that He will help you
act on these things.
ILL: I’m a church brat myself. I grew up in a Christian home.
I figured out by around fourth grade that God had made a good world,
but our rebellion against Him had let evil and suffering into it.
I also figured out I wasn’t just a victim; I was part of the problem.
Developmentally, fourth grade is about the time kids most want
to please authority figures in their lives.
If you have a child in fourth grade,
and this isn’t happening . . . God help you!
If they’re ever going to be nice, compliant little people,
this is the time.
I went through that normal phase, and I would say to my mom,
“Mom, from now on I’m not going to do another thing wrong.”
She’d just smile. And then about three minutes later
when I’d gotten busy doing something,
she’d ask me to go dump the garbage.
“Awww, Mom! What are you asking me for?
What do you think I am, the family slave?”
And then it would hit me:
I can’t be good for even five minutes!
I have the same willfulness and selfishness that regularly spoils
this good world God has made.
It was at that time that I recognized why I needed
Jesus Christ as my Savior.
I can remember feeling greatly relieved
that God had already seen the problem and provided a remedy for it,
and I was overjoyed to accept God’s forgiveness
and redemption through Jesus Christ. He was my Savior.
But what I discovered in college and my young career life
was that it’s one thing to accept Jesus’ salvation—
it’s another to make Him Lord of your life.
God had blessed me with an analytical mind and ambition,
so I did well in school and work.
And I knew from school and work and ministry
that God had gifted me at teaching.
If I had seriously sought His will for my life,
I probably would have figured out much earlier
that He wanted me to teach in some kind of capacity.
But I figured I pretty well knew how to make my way in the world,
and I wanted to do something that seemed to be sexy and exciting.
I wanted a solid career path that had financial security.
I decided that what I wanted to be was an Air Force pilot.
I didn’t even think to inquire with God to see if that’s what
He wanted me to do with my life.
I figured if I wanted it, and the door was open, He must want it.
Why wouldn’t God want what I wanted?
He’s the Big Santa in the sky, right?
He likes giving us what we ask for.
And boy did He give it to me!
I had accomplished everything I set out to do thus far,
and I found myself at Air Force pilot training, succeeding . . .
and utterly miserable. I couldn’t figure it out:
I was right where I had thought I wanted to be,
and I hated my life.
It’s at this time that I started to understand Christ’s Lordship of my life.
He had created me to fulfill certain purposes,
and although being a pilot is His purpose for some of His creatures,
it wasn’t His purpose for me!
Paul puts it this way in
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
So I took the plunge. I quit pilot training—
not the swiftest thing to do when you’re a 2nd Lt. in the Air Force.
And I started asking Jesus what He wanted me to do.
That surrender led me on a series of amazing adventures
in the military and out that has culminated at this point
with me being a pastor here at Life Center
for the past nine years, and I love it!
I’ve never felt more freedom and joy in life
than when I’ve recognized Christ’s Lordship
and been fully surrendered to His will.
If you’re not at this place in your own life,
then let me encourage you to take the plunge!
What that ride will look like of course is different for each of us.
Jesus may ask you to start looking for a new type of work as He did me,
or He may ask you to go back to school or retrain
or join or start some kind of ministry or service
or go on a mission trip
or adopt a child.
He may ask you to start giving generously
and trust Him to provide for your needs
to see what He’ll do in your life
when you make Him Lord of every part of it.
He may ask you to get into recovery,
or reconcile with your spouse or an estranged child.
He may ask you to either make a marriage commitment to
the partner you’re living with, or break off the relationship,
in order to live by His morals rather than this world’s.
He may ask you to start leading your business with Christian ethics
even though you fear it may hurt your bottom line,
or start sharing your faith with your family
even though you’re sure they’ll think you’re wacked.
All of these types of things can sound scary. But they’re also exciting!
They’re the things that add wonder and amazement to your life!
They’re part of making Jesus not just Savior, but Lord.
You’ll never know what God can do with you and through you
until you determine to step on the ride,
strap yourself to Jesus,
and take the plunge.
I’ve mainly been aiming this discussion at us Christians who sometimes lose
our amazement at Jesus because we’ve reduced
His identity to something far less than what it is … Lord and God.
But, of course, it’s also possible that some of you have never known Jesus.
At this point you may be just be getting interested in who He really is.
You should take the plunge and try Him out, too!
If I were to compare Him to everyday things for you,
I’d say He’s kind of like an elevator … just a little faster.
You’ve got to get on to see how it goes.
Just go to Him in prayer, and tell Him you’ve heard
that He has come to be your Savior and Lord,
and you want Him to enter your life…
Then start reading in the New Testament in the Bible
about Him and begin praying,
and see what happens.
You’ll be amazed!
If you’re serious about making such a decision,
come up front after the service. We won’t accost you!
We’ll just give you a Yes! packet with a Bible
that will help guide you on your way.
The last thing I want us to see in Mark 6 is how we as Christians
can faithfully represent Jesus to our unbelieving and sometimes resistant
neighbors, lifelong friends, and family members.
3. Keeping Jesus before those who appear to reject Him.
Now we have to peek ahead to next week’s story in Mark
to see what Jesus’ does after His own village and family reject Him:
Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.
Apparently, although Jesus was amazed at his hometown’s rejection,
He wasn’t devastated or demoralized by it.
Jesus didn’t have a crisis of confidence in who He was just because others,
even significant others, weren’t willing to accept Him or His message.
That’s because He kept His own sense of identity in the right place:
with the Father. Look at how Jesus describes His identity
when some Jewish leaders question Him about who He is:
19 Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.”
Because Jesus had this solid sense of identity and purpose in God the Father,
He didn’t miss a step in His mission even though others rejected Him.
He just kept on teaching and leading, knowing His Father was pleased.
This ability to keep living out God’s will eventually bore fruit.
As I noted earlier, his own brothers James and Jude
ultimately come to believe in Him,
and James even ends up leading the church in Jerusalem.
[Acts 12:17, 15:13, 21:18; Gal. 1:19, 2:9]
Their conversions give us hope for our own loved ones.
Rejection today doesn’t mean rejection forever.
Just looking at my own family, there are a number of folks
I honestly never dreamed would come to Christ,
but they have!
Using the mental labels I had stuck them under
(in a not very Christianly manner, I must say!),
here are some of my close family members—
people I’ve always loved and enjoyed—
who amazed me by eventually making
Jesus their Lord and Savior:
- a big-city nurse who was a vocal humanist and vehement agnostic
- a school psychologist who was an atheistic evolutionist
- a homeless, dope-smoking, Buddhist hippy
- and the list could go on!
I’ve discovered that—for good reason—God has not
assigned me to determine who will eventually accept Christ.
I’m just supposed to love them all in hope that they will.
For Jesus’ brothers, Jesus’ death and resurrection were probably fairly
convincing factors for them—it’s got to be a life-changing experience
to hear your brother is alive again just after he’s been crucified!
But Jesus’ own consistent love for His family
probably made a difference, too.
The Gospel of John records that Jesus stayed in touch with his
brothers while He was in their region of Galilee,
even though John notes Jesus’ “own brothers
did not believe in Him” (John 7:5).
They may have rejected Him as Lord,
but He did not reject them as brothers.
Also, Jesus continued to lovingly care for His mom.
Again in John’s Gospel, one of the last things Jesus did
even while hanging on the cross for our sins
was ensure His mother, Mary, was taken care of.
25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
Perhaps this action of caring for his mom while his own life was ebbing
also convicted Jesus’ family about His innate goodness
and their own misunderstanding of who He was.
He’s clearly not some egomaniac with a Messiah-complex.
Right up to the end his love is focused on others,
including his own family.
Whatever caused James and Jude and likely the rest of His family
to turnaround, it’s clear that Jesus never quit loving His family
despite their rejection.
Jesus taught in John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
This light that Jesus has in Him and that He puts in our lives is attractive.
During His sermon on the Mount, He tells His followers this:
14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
If we truly let Jesus rule in our lives, God’s Holy Spirit dwells within us.
And others will see the fruit of that Spirit and be attracted to it:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
These are all very attractive qualities that build and sustain relationships.
But if we don’t let Jesus rule, if we reject Him as Lord,
something else happens:
13 “You are the salt of the earth. [You are the savor and the preservative of healthy life.] But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”
If we try to represent Christ, but we don’t allow Christ to be Lord
in our life and give it saltiness, it’s not just our own reputation,
but Jesus Christ’s that gets trampled.
It’s amazing the risk He takes in using us
to spread the gospel about Him!
Most of us recognize that even when we’re in Christ,
we still wrestle with our sinful nature every day.
Can I hear an “Amen” on that?
But God’s Spirit makes Christ’s character more and more
pervasive in us as we willingly walk under His Lordship.
If our unbelieving neighbors, friends, and family members see
these changes in us, and they experience God’s grace
while they are with us because of these qualities,
there is obviously far more chance they’ll start
to get interested in our Lord
and be willing to hear about Him and ask about Him.
I joked earlier that I have a unique capacity to amaze my mother-in-law.
I confess that that used to be mainly because of my sinful side
and sometimes still is!
But I hope it’s more and more because she sees Christ in me.
I pray I represent Him in a way that makes Him real and attractive.
But that is never going to happen if I reject the true Jesus
and make Him something less than He is. It won’t happen if
I won’t allow Him to truly be my Lord and my God,
but I assign Him to simply being some king of
moral teacher or spiritual guru whose ideas
I’ll pick and choose from as I like, because the truth is
I’ve given Him no definitive authority in my life.
There’s no power, there’s no divine life,
in such a second-rate form of Christianity.
Only taking the plunge and experiencing Jesus as Lord will do!
If you want to convince your unbelieving friends and family
of Jesus’ identity as God the Son and His love for them,
then love and follow Jesus with your whole heart
first and foremost,
and then ask Him to help you love them as He does.
If you do these things, there’s no better way for you
to keep Jesus as an attractive presence in their lives.
Perhaps they reject Him now,
as His own home village did for a time.
But someday they might just decide to
take the Panic Plunge with you by their side