In The World, But Not Of The World

Jesus is our perfect model for being in the world, but not of the world.
He was found where people were found, ate what people ate, lived in a political world without being absorbed in politics, surrounded by a wide gamut of social issues yet never lost sight of His Father’s balanced agenda, always put God first while remaining amazingly approachable.

We need to examine carefully His example lest our good intentions distort the priorities of the Kingdom. God is not the God of our cause; He has his on agenda. Christ-likeness, therefore, is not just the best way to go, it is the only way.

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JESUS AND EVANGELISM

Unhurried Urgency

            When we look at Jesus and see how He did evangelism, we cannot doubt the urgency He associated with the responsibility. However, at the same time, we must acknowledge that urgency looked different on Him than it often looks on us.  Many times when we do “urgent,” we come off looking panicked, running around in a frenzy trying to dart about in many different directions all at once. Jesus, on the other hand, does not appear harried or rushed, rather, He is always in control, never panicked.

            In fact, there are times when we would never classify His lifestyle as appearing to be driven by urgency.  He sleeps through a seemingly perfect one-on-one teaching opportunity while He and His disciples were alone on a boat (Matt. 8:23-27).  We might be prone to think “If He had crammed in just one more lesson maybe the disciples would not have been so confused about the kingdom.

            By way of appearance, doesn’t He spend way too much time eating meals with people when He could have using time more effectively (Matt 9:9-13, Luke 19:4-10)? You know what they say, “It’s hard to get any effective teaching done in groups.” Or, if it’s groups you want, what about the time when He delayed going to the Feast of Booths?  Those great crowds gathered for that particular feast only once a year. Wouldn’t it have been better to have arrived early and stayed late (John 7:2-9)?

            Jesus did, of course, know what He was doing. He just pursued urgency differently. He never missed an opportunity to tell people what they needed to know so they could take the next step on their eternal journey.  He invited the woman at the well, though He was tired and hungry (John 4:5-26).  He told Simon the Pharisee things he didn’t want to hear. He did this while reclining at the table, instead of waiting for a more socially acceptable moment (Luke 7:36-50).  He taught and fed 5000 after hearing His cousin John had been killed (Matt. 14:13-21).  He said and did what was needed when it was needed. He did not a frantically careening about trying to make up for lost time; He redeemed time.

            With this in mind let’s all commit to living our lives more urgently, truly making the most of every opportunity. If we will do this, when we get to heaven’s gates we will not be anxious about what we have left undone. However, we need “Jesus urgency.” We don’t need to be scurrying about, just consistently living the values and priorities of the Christ.

            “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity“ Col. 4:5).

LOVING JESUS, THE KEY TO SERVICE

If You Love Me, You Will Keep My Commandments

            In John 14:15 Jesus make a very direct, easily understood statement. The KJV and NKJV capture the thought in John 14:23. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”

            Jesus built His church (Matt. 16:18; Heb. 12:22-23). He is the One the church is to obey (Matt. 28:20). Why then do we so commonly ignore Him in this most fundamental aspect of Christian response?

            Jesus is smart, hardly a revelation, yet a truth we can all too easily ignore. If the church is to address successfully the business of the Christ, it must love the Christ. If we love Him well, we will follow Him faithfully and zealously; if we do not love Him sufficiently, we will not. Simple, isn’t it.

            This love of Christ is to control us; it is the key to victorious service (II Cor. 5:14-15; cf. Gal. 2:20). Whatever the particular item of service might be, it is the heartfelt love of Jesus that will insure its pursuit. All the well-defined lists of doctrine and all the acknowledged biblical patterns will not, in themselves, bring us to obedience; love is the key.

            How do we come to have this love? What is the practical plan for developing this all-important key to service? We need no rocket scientist or brain surgeon; the answer is within clear sight of us all.

            We will come to love Jesus in the acceptable, substantive biblical way as we get to know Him. To know Him is to love Him. Where do we find our most direct encounter with the Christ? It is in the Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, almost 48% of the New Testament, is the place where we see Jesus “in the flesh” (Jn. 1:14; 14:7-9).

            Yes, we must also come to know the mind of Christ as it is expressed to the church in the Epistles. The love of Christ would allow no other choice. Nevertheless, it is in the Gospels where we see Him in the form of His most personal appearance. The key is to loving Jesus is obvious. The Gospels must be read. Their picture of Jesus must be the source of our ongoing meditation and application (II Cor. 3:18). If we never tire of hearing the “old, old story,” we will never be far from the four books of “good news.”

            We have, at times, given our first look to bare doctrine, or to programs   and methods devised by men. Some have even said that Acts chapter two is the “hub of the Bible,” as thought the beginning of the church is more significant than its Builder (Heb. 3:3). We need to look first to the Christ (Col. 3:1-3). It is to Him we must go before our focus can be clear elsewhere (Matt. 11:28-30; cf. I Cor. 11:1).

            I purpose a prescription for increasing our love to Jesus. Read a Gospel a week, taken in daily doses. Read, marvel, meditate, and be captivated by Jesus. As we grow in love for Him, we will grow in our keeping of His commandments. As Philip told Nathanael, “Come and see” (Jn. 1:46).