January 11-12, 2013
What does it mean to be more than a mere “believer in” Jesus but someone who sincerely endeavors to also be a “follower of” Jesus? This was our topic for the entire weekend throughout five presentations in Naperville, IL last weekend:
Why Jesus Part 1
Why Jesus Part 2
Why The Cross
In the first two presentations we first looked at the philosophical reasons for why the teachings of Jesus are unique, even when compared to other sections of the Bible. All the scriptures even, must be interpreted through the lens of Jesus or we can end up in the all too common phenomenon today of being very Biblical but still a world away from actually following the teachings of Christ. In the second presentation we looked at the historical evidence for following Jesus. In other words, given the great teachers that have surfaced throughout world history, why pick Jesus to be the one whom you follow. C.S. Lewis I believe said it best when he said, “The things he says are very different from what any other teacher has said. Others say, ‘This is the truth about the universe. This is the way you ought to go,’ but He says, ‘I am the Truth, and the Way, and the Life.’” (God in the Dock)
Next we looked at the question I am asked by so many, “Okay, let’s say there it a God out there that looks just like that Jewish carpenter two thousand years ago, why then, is life on this planet so riddled with horrors for so many?” Or as someone else recently put it, “If God is so good, then why does my life stink?” When we allow the Jesus-story itself to challenge our understanding God and the manner in which He is relating to this world, we get a very different picture, than what we too often get from modern Reformed theology’s representation of God which is rampant in Western Christianity. Is God omni-controlling everything that transpires around us or is God engaged in a genuine and formidable struggle, “warfare” so to speak, for His will to be “done on earth as it is done in heaven?” Which is the picture of God we get from the Jesus-story itself?
We then looked at Jesus’ own understanding of the purpose of His death in contrast to modern schools of interpreting the purpose of the cross. This presentation affects me so deeply each time I give it. If God really does look like Jesus, hanging on the cross, (not modern, Americanized Christianity, but Jesus) then that is a game changer for me. This will be the subject of the entire last half of the new “sharing” book that is coming out the fall of this year.
Lastly we looked at the subject of “church,” and why so many hate going to church in our modern culture. We looked at how the clear teachings of Jesus, in relation to “how” we are to be the church, if followed, would not only redefine what many call “church,” but these teachings would actually produce something that, praise God for the few exceptions, has not existed, on the whole, in Christianity for 1700 years. Surprisingly, what the majority of those who in our culture today who say they hate church, are truly longing for is exactly what Jesus was trying to create among His followers. But to a large degree, this no longer exists and cannot be found within the gatherings of those today who bear His name.
As with everything we do here at Renewed Heart Ministries, this weekend was filled with those who were either renewed by seeing once again the character of God through the lens of Jesus Christ, or those who were overwhelmed as they, for the first time, through Jesus, saw God for who He truly is. Jesus is the game changer. Jesus changes how we see God, ourselves, and everyone else around us. Then He invites of to step into the life of God itself, the radical, other-centered, self-sacrificial love of the Kingdom.
For each of you who were praying for this event. Thank you.
Tonight we will be beginning a two day event where I will be giving the same series of talks as last weekend, in Raymond, WI. I have the flu this morning, and I’m not feeling well at all. (I’m quite sure this ministry update is riddle with typos I can’t even see this morning. My humblest apologies.) But God’s grace I sufficient. I have been reminded once again that what we need, is not more talent, pizzaz, or eloquence. What we desperately need, if we are to be successfully used in God’s upside down Kingdom, is weakness, more weakness. (2 Corinthians 12.9)
Please partner with me in prayer for tonight and tomorrow’s presentations. And if you can make it, I’d love to see you. Just don’t shake my hand. I’d hate for you to get what I have. : )
Keep living in love and loving like Christ.
I love you guys.