Jesus the troublemaker. Not usually the title we as Christians attribute to our Lord, is it? Today we are finding that when you interject the teachings and mindset of Christ into political or social/cultural conversations, people get upset. This happens regardless of the political mindset you are speaking to.
It’s not that we disagree per se with the teachings of Christ. It’s just that we resist any notion that our opinions need correction. As Christians, we are not spared this temptation. We too resist the notion that we might not be “free” to think however we want on any issue or that our thoughts might be even partially incorrect.
Have you ever considered how some of Jesus’ teachings must really have been received by those who heard him? Think on these instances. Prayerfully read them in context and consider the audience to whom Jesus spoke.
· The clearing of the temple (John 2:13-21, Matthew 21: 12-13)
· Speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42)
· Giving the parable of the good Samaritan to a group of Pharisees (Luke 10:25-37)
· Reminding those who accuse a proven adulteress of their own sin (John 8:1-11)
· Offering to go to the home of a Roman (Matthew 8:5-13)
· Proclaiming the great faith of a Roman (Matthew 8:10)
· Exhorting love and prayer for the Roman occupiers (and all enemies and persecutors) (Matthew 5: 44)
· Encouraging the chosen people to serve their Roman occupiers BEYOND what is required (Matthew 5:41)
· Proclaiming that his followers must love Him more than their own families (Matthew 10:37)
· Proclaiming that his followers must take up their cross—a symbol of the execution used by their hated enemies (Matthew 16:24)
The way and truth of Christ is counter-cultural. His ways are counter to our sinful nature. Even as followers of Christ, his teachings continue to conform us and often that conformation is not comfortable. Often it is upsetting, and perhaps even disruptive, of the worldly thoughts and comforts and ways that part of us wishes to hold on to.
But God has placed all things under Jesus’s feet. (Ephesians 1:22) All authority is given unto Him. (Matthew 28:18) He is preeminent. Colossians 1:18 tells us He is the head of the body (the Church) and the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might have preeminence.
We must seek HIS thoughts as shown in the word. HIS thoughts on OUR struggles, our injuries, our egos, our offenses. HIS thoughts on OUR Samaritans. HIS thoughts on OUR Romans. His thoughts on every part of us.
Our Lord desires that by His Spirit, HIS thoughts, His word, might become THE authority within our hearts and minds. And therefore, that all thoughts and ways within us that conflict and contradict with His thoughts and ways might continually be released and, ultimately and finally, crucified.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2).
In the end, despite how right we feel in our thinking, how comfortable we feel in our convictions, only HIS way and HIS thoughts have authority.
Scripture tells us that this is the ultimate realization of the Christian life. We are predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ. When He appears we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is. (Romans 8:29, 1 John 3:2)
But Beloved—whatever we lose in this exchange, this continual transformation, pales when compared to the richness of Christ Jesus. GOD himself is our portion. Knowing His love for us and knowing HIM. When measured against that, is there any human-made thought, opinion or conviction we would not give up? (Philippians 3:8)
How amazing is His grace that He would offer this exchange to us? My ways, my mind, my heart in exchange for Him and His! May we always be awestruck by the loving God who, in His richness, would make such an exchange with us, the bankrupt. May we, enabled by His grace, willingly offer our bodies, ourselves as living sacrifices to God. For this is true worship. (Romans 12:1)
Pastor Brian TorresSeptember 1, 2019