When I woke up one morning, I felt the burden of failure within the Christian Body to express love to one another, and also to our neighbors. Instead of Christians being as one, as the Father and Son are one, we have been as many, acting in the same way as pagans, in terms of cliques, egos, divisions and separateness, backstabbing, not loving our neighbors nor even our brethren, and pushing people away so that they look to other religions in order to try and find what they long for.
Jesus is what they need, but are we as Christians portraying that in our actions and behaviors towards them? Or are we putting up a no vacancy sign, and giving them directions to the nearest Mosque, Mormon church, Jehovah Witness temple, new age religion, or the like?
We need to be Christ to people…as Christ would be to them. Instead of asking “What would Jesus Do”, we may need to ask ourselves, “How would Jesus love them”, and then obey Jesus when He said, “go and do likewise”. We can’t afford to lose members of the Kingdom. Not because we have a small number or anything, but because Christ called us to add to the numbers…to tell of His good news, and baptize them. In John, Jesus prays not only for His current disciples, but also for His future disciples. This shows not only Jesus’ love and concern for those of us who are continuously being saved, but also that He expected us to share this great message with others in the same way that He shared it with us.
Are we willing to die for our neighbors if need be, in order that they may know Christ’s love, accept Him, and carry on the message? Or are we more likely to push them away because they’re different from us, believe different things, live differently, and assume them a lost cause? Are we being as the Good Samaritan to our neighbors? Are we loving one another as Christ loves us? As ambassadors of Christ to the world, are we being as Christ to its people?
Jesus didn’t die for nothing, and God didn’t raise Him just to show us what He’s capable of doing. He did it to free us from the grasp of sin, in order that we may have the fellowship with Him in the likenes of the closeness that He had with us in the beginning before sin entered the picture of humankind. He did it not because He could not approach us, but because we could not approach Him. Plus, no matter how many animals we killed off in sacrifice, we could not cleanse ourselves enough to approach Him. We could serve Him, but once we messed up, we had to kill another animal. But when God gave us Jesus, He did so in order to perform the last sacrifice for us. Because of our sinful nature, we could not fulfill the Law with our behavior and actions, for we would always continue to fail. Only Christ, the perfect, unblemished lamb, could fulfill it. So what we could not do, God loved us enough, even as we were sinners, or His enemies, to do for us.
Jesus said that the only way to the Father is through Him. So by trying to get into Heaven on our own, in a sense we were actually trying to Jimmy the door (or the pearly gates), for we didn’t have the key. Jesus is the key needed to open the door that leads to God.
In another sense, there was a chasm (or wall) that separated us from God. But by Jesus’ death on the cross, and God raising Him from the dead 3 days later, God has put a doorway in the middle of the wall. That doorway is Jesus, for in order to get to the Father, we must first go through Him.
Christians, are we showing people the Door? And once at the Door, are we greeting them as they enter? And once in, are we continuously loving each other as brethren in the Kingdom of God? God’s Kingdom reigns. Are we rejoicing with one another in the Kingdom, or pushing our brothers and sisters back out the door?
In terms of living, if a neighborhood is bad, and someone can afford to move, they do. If someone is not satisfied with their job, they quit and apply somewhere else. When people are not happy in their relationships, they break up and search for another who speaks their love languages. If a church is not in order or not fulfilling one’s need for worship, people leave it and search for another church to attend. If people are not finding Christ in Christians, they will leave Christ out, and search for God somewhere else (but they won’t find Him anywhere else than in Christ).
If we Christians are not following God’s will, then whose will are we following? If we’re not being a light/beacon to a dark world, then that means our lights have gone dim, and the souls being tossed upon the raging sea of life will crash into the rocks of other religions, instead of make it home into the Father’s loving arms.
We are called to be as seeing-eye dogs to a blind world…where are we leading the people of the world? Christ led us to the Father. Are we leading others to Christ? If so, how, and if not, why not? Also, if we’re not leading people to Christ, then where are we leading them? Have we instead become the blind leading the blind? And notice too that seeing-eye dogs don’t just lead people to the destinations, but they also walk with them on their journeys. Are we walking with people on their journeys?
We are not called to be ushers, for ushers carry a light in order to show people around in the dark, but once they find their seats, they leave them there…in the dark. No, we are not called to be ushers. Jesus said that if a soldier makes you walk a mile with him, walk 2 miles with him. So you walk 1 mile because you must, and you continue because you would like to (or care). It’s all part of being a servant, for at first, you were called to take them somewhere. But then upon arriving at the destination, instead of just leaving them there, you choose to walk with them during the rest of their journey.
John 20 and 21 tell us that after Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected, His Apostles didn’t know what to do, for they didn’t realize what had actually happened. They thought they were alone, forced to fend for themselves. So what was the first thing they did upon this realization? They left the responsibility of fishing for men and went back to fishing for fish. They fell back to their old ways of living, for they thought their Shepherd (Jesus) was gone for good, and they were now alone.
If Jesus had acted as an usher, thus leaving them on their own after dying, I have little doubt that they would have gone back to working for their dads’ fishing companies, or that Matthew would have gone back to being a tax collector, or that James would have regrouped with the zealots, for they thought they were alone. These 11 men who had enough trouble getting along with each other in Jesus’ presence were now in a position of trying to get along without Jesus. It just would not have happened if Jesus had simply left them there alone.
But Jesus is not the good usher…He’s the good Shepherd. For it was not until Jesus showed Himself to them on the beach, ate with them, forgave and restored Peter for denying him 3 times, hung around for 40 days, and then ascended, promising to be with them always, that we come to read what happened in Acts: they all gathered together on a regular basis, praying and breaking bread in homes, worshipping and praising God. Then also, we read about the day of Pentecost where they all ran out with the urgency to tell everyone in every language about who Christ is, what they all did to Him, what Jesus did for them, causing hundreds to repent, thus leading us to read about the first mega-church ever being planted.
We need to be shepherds, as Christ shepherds us. We need to walk together in our walk with Christ. We need to encourage one another in the Body (the Church), loving one-another in the same way that Christ loves us, which is also the way that the Father first loved us. We need to not just show people to Jesus, but also walk with them on their journeys with Him. We need to continue to gather, praise and worship, break bread, eat together, read/study the Bible together, listen to the teachings of our Pastors (and Youth Pastors), and love our neighbors in the way that Jesus describes in the parable of the Good Samaritan. We need to be Jesus to the world, light to the darkness, salt to the taste, brothers and sisters to one another, and companions on our journeys with Christ Jesus. For if we continue to act like ushers, then we are leaving people in their seats, where they just sit there in the dark theater watching the bright screen in front of them, but not taking part in it. Or if we continue to act holier than thou, then we are preventing people from entering the Kingdom.
The Kingdom of God is not filled with sand, but salt; not darkness, but light; not death, but life; not hatred but love; not divisions, but unity; not ushers, but shepherds.
There is only one way to the Father, and that is through Jesus. If we do not begin being shepherds to the lost and companions to our Christian brothers and sisters on our journeys with Christ, then we will continue to push people away from Jesus and towards other ways of seeking out God…which is impossible. We need to walk with one another as Jesus walks with us. We need to love others as Jesus Loves us (and them). We need to ask not what Jesus would do, but how would Jesus do it, how did Jesus do it, or how is Jesus doing it, and then obey by doing so ourselves. How would Jesus love them? Therefore, we too must do likewise.