"I read about what Jesus did and said and then I go to church and I think, I don't think this is what Jesus had in mind." -Reoccurring Statement
I have been reading through Jesus' words recently. Just Jesus' words. It's really easy because in Bible they are the red words. So I just started in Mark asking simple questions like: What did Jesus say? Why did he say what he said? Who did he say it to? How did they understand or misunderstand what he was saying? How am I then to understand and respond to what Jesus said?I few things that have jumped out at me, some reminders, some new insights.
The Kingdom of God: This is far and away Jesus' dominant and essential message. If we miss this, we might miss everything. Jesus says some strange things about the Kingdom of God (KOG). The KOG is here. The KOG is near. The KOG will come before some of you have died. The KOG is like a seed, etc, etc. Jesus was (is) obsessed (can I use that word) about the Kingdom of God - "May Your Kingdom come, on Earth as it is in Heaven."
The Group Dynamics of Dynamic Groups: One reoccurring theme is how some people will get his message and others won't. He seems at peace about this. In fact, he seems strategic about it. "This is why I speak in parables..." In one passage he is delighting joyfully in the beauty of this truth - "O Father, Thank You for hiding the truth from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing to the childlike. Jesus doesn't spend much time or energy trying to convince people who aren't open to his message. He says, if you want to be my disciple, you will have to take up your cross and follow me. He doesn't sugar coat it. He doesn't try to please those who dislike his message. In his own home town people are reluctant to believe in him. They say "show us a sign," essentially "prove yourself." Jesus basically says, this is so predictable. I'm not going to try to prove myself. At times he seems almost pragmatic in his understanding of leadership, structures and groups. In his first recorded parable Jesus says, you can't patch an old garment with unshrunk cloth. For the new patch shrinks and pulls away, leaving an even bigger hole than before... No one puts new wine in new wineskins, the new wine would burst the wineskins."
Conflict: Jesus is so amazing in his ways of dealing with conflict. Somebody accuses him of something really bad, and he tells a story. They corner him and want to stone a young woman, he draws in the sand and says, "Sure...just let the one without sin throw the first stone..." And then he doodles in the sand some more. When Jesus' enemies have traditional wisdom on their side, like when they didn't want him to heal on the Sabbath, Jesus gets at the heart of their real motives. "Is today a day for doing good or evil." Then he heals the man.
Jesus' Peeps: Jesus got a lot of flack for the people he was spending considerable time with..."sinners." Jesus would just say things like, "It's not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick... I didn't come to spend my time with those who think they are already good enough." The first time Jesus is almost killed it is because he praises outsiders. He says, Elijah was sent not to one of us, but to an outsider. And what about Elisha he could have healed one of the lepers among us but he healed an outsider. Jesus says to his accusers, "you say I am a glutton and a drunkard and a friend of the worst kind of sinners. But wisdom is shown to be right by the people who follow it."
What implications might this have for Christ-Followers and the Church? Recently I have been wondering (sometimes out loud) about how much (or little as the case may be) the church is shaped by Jesus. We sing, Be Thou My Vision, but do we really mean it? Is the JesusVision our guiding force for shaping the way we focus our time, energy, resources, budget, staff, buildings. Is the JesusVision the model for how we handle conflict and think about group dymanics/ dynamic groups? Are we unapologetically cultivating a kingdom culture?
In Len Sweet's new book FirstFollowers (yet to be released) he talks about the importance of leaders (actually everybody) to be first-followers of Jesus. To let the JesusVision shape one's life and to organize around that. If churches, families, people, individuals could do that something really radical could happen. Movement.
Check out this video ~ Lessons about Leadership from the Shirtless, Dancing Guy.