It’s sad because it’s true.
The disgust of the religious leaders continued to grow, as did Jesus’ popularity with common people. Simply put, he partied with the wrong crowd! He seemed to relish the company of the most unseemly- prostitutes, tax-collectors, lepers, and the demonized. It would have been fine if he was scolding them for their wretched behavior, but he wasn’t. He was eating with them, telling stories, and laughing.
According to the Pharisees, a righteous man would never associate with sinners, in fear of becoming unclean himself. But Jesus knew better. He knew real holiness was powerful enough to cleanse the unclean. He saw people as precious and knew that by loving them, especially the broken, he could untwist them and set them free.
Seeing their disapproval, Jesus reminded them, “The healthy don’t need doctors, but those who are sick.” The irony escaped them.
Why was it that those who knew the Scriptures best couldn’t recognize God when he stood right in front of them? For all their diligent effort to follow the demands of the law, they had missed what was most important. They had no idea who God was. They thought he was just like them, holding other people in contempt when they did not work as hard as they did. Trapped in their performance, they couldn’t understand a love that reached out to sinners.
“You probe the Scriptures in great detail thinking that you’ll find life in them,” Jesus had told them earlier, “but I am the fulfillment of those Scriptures. They reveal me and yet you refuse to come to me so that I can give you life.”
How dare he…? they must have thought. He doesn’t have the training we have, nor the zeal for God we do, and yet he dares to rebuke us. How can this man possibly come from God and love sinners the way he does? That was the lie they kept tripping over.
-A Man Like No Other: The Illustrated Life of Jesus
text by: Wayne Jacobsen and Brad Cummings
Let’s be honest, people are nasty. We’re mean to each other on a regular basis, we lie to each other, we bully each other, we steal physical and intellectual property from each other, we cheat on each other, we fantasize about hurting each other, and the list goes on and on. Anyone who is willing to take a few honest seconds of self-examination will admit to sharing at least one of the aforementioned flaws or something similar yet most people, immediately after this admission, will feel an overwhelming impulse arise within them to prove to themselves and everyone else that they aren’t bad people; we try to convince everyone that there is some special circumstance which made our behavior acceptable, but we don’t even manage to fully convince ourselves through these excuses.
There’s a common idea circulating through both religious and nonreligious circles today that goes something like this:
“If we do more good than bad then we deserve to go to heaven”
“If our good deeds outweigh our bad deeds then we’re really good people”
Let’s be honest…do any of us really believe this?
Pretend you are married for 25 years and one day you find out that your husband had an affair with one of his coworkers…Do the 25 years of faithfulness outweigh the 25 minutes of infidelity or does the betrayal still cut you to the core?
Imagine your friend, whom you’ve known your whole life, hacks your computer and drains your bank account… Do the years of friendship outweigh the seconds it took the funds to transfer or is your trust in that person forever destroyed?
Picture a man who has been bullied his whole life finally reaching his breaking point. He turns to a firearm to deal with his agitator… Do the thousands of days he didn’t commit murder outweigh the split second it took him to pull the trigger or does he still deserve to be locked away?
Finally, envision a man who has fought in wars and seen his friends die for his country. Imagine that he is offered a large sum of money by a foreign government to help end the war and suffering more expediently… Do his years of faithful service outweigh his one instance of treason or has he still double-crossed his countrymen?
In our most honest moments, I think we must admit that no matter how badly we wish our good deeds counted for more than our bad, we know this will never be the case. When we’re honest we realize that if this was the source of our hope, we really have none.
The only prayer we have left is that the One we’ve offended forgive us and pretend it never happened…and this is exactly what He does.
Over the course of my life there have been several times when God has made me aware of what He has been teaching me. When He first brought me to repentance and I understood my need for forgiveness at age three, when I learned the need for continued repentance and commitment during adolescence and most recently as He has been taking me through the humbling transition from Pharisee to Follower.
The process for me has been a journey through various terrains and has moved as various paces and recently the rhythm has quickened as I have read through The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey. In this book, Yancey steps outside of his North American, Evangelical mindset in order to look at the life of Jesus as His contemporaries would have reacted to Him during the time of His incarnation.
It is always jarring to me to take a step back and once again honestly look at Jesus’ life to find the example for my own. While I learned several lessons from this book, perhaps the most striking (at the moment anyway) is how drastically different my heart and attitude is from His and with that comes the reminder that where we differ, I am wrong.
Once again I am overwhelmed by the love, grace and patience of Jesus that He is willing to come alongside me and teach me how to be more like Him. I am thankful that He is patient when I am slow and stubborn to learn from Him. Finally, I am thankful that though He is holy and I am profane, in love He came down to my level so He could elevate me to His.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book, though I advise everyone (Christians especially) to buy their own copies:
It has been a very exciting year for me. The adventures with Christ are never ending. The journey is sometimes tough but the experience is almost as invaluable as the destination.
In January 2011, I returned to Bethany Bible College for my final semester, not knowing what the Father held in store for the future. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for Him to reveal His next steps for me to follow and, I have to be honest, I was a little blindsided by His request.
During one of our chapel services at Bethany, the Spirit was moving in undeniably tangible ways. As I prayed, I felt the Father telling me distinctively “I want you be a Church Planter in Western Canada”. In the conversation that followed, He revealed to me how, through prayers that I’d prayed and requests I’d made, He had been preparing me for this calling.
Since that time I have continued to prepare for the mission that lies ahead. I began to research church planting and Western Canada and in May, after graduation, I went to the Church Planter Assessment Center in Ontario and received the endorsement of the Wesleyan Church to pursue a future in this ministry. It was here that I first spoke with Jerry and Amanda Wurnig about the possibility of joining their Church Plant, Manna Church, they have been preparing to launch in Calgary, Alberta.
This summer I had the incredible pleasure and opportunity to serve as the Summer Director at Shiktehawk Bible Camp. This was my seventh summer serving in this ministry but it was different than all those before. Never before have I worked with a camp staff so willing to follow Christ no matter the cost. God worked through this willingness to lead 137 children and teens into saving relationships with Him this summer and those young believers are already having an impact in their homes and schools. During this time God continued to teach and prepare me for what lies ahead.
In September, I had the awesome privilege of taking a Vision Trip to Alberta so I could see and walk the land in which God has called me to plant a church. While I was there, I fell in love with the entire province but especially Calgary and Red Deer. As I walked through both cities, I saw swarms and swarms of people who don’t yet know Jesus Christ, over a million people that have not yet been set free from slavery to sin. Shortly after returning home, I called Jerry and Amanda to tell them I was joining the Manna Church team.
Jerry, Amanda and I share a very similar heart to see the people of Alberta become disciples of Christ and I hope to see this come about using my gifts in music, teaching, leadership and evangelism to help build the Kingdom in Calgary.
Plans are currently laid for us to move to Calgary in January 2012 to prepare for our launch. We could use your help in three ways:
1. Prayer Support- An endeavor like this is pointless without the support and leading of our Father.
2. Connection Support- In our travels we’ve found nearly everyone knows somebody in Calgary and since you can’t start a church without people, we would love any names or introductions you could provide.
3. Financial Support- Church Planting is like any other missionary work and in order to do it, we must rely on the generosity of God’s people.
Your support in any or all of these areas would be greatly appreciated. By helping us you are playing an important, even critical role, in the expansion of the Kingdom. Together we can help lost souls find grace, love, healing and purpose in our savior Jesus Christ.
Until the whole world knows,
For More Information About How You Can Help Or To Receive Donation Packet Please Message Me At http://www.facebook.com/hopkins.joshua
This is it! Don’t miss this rock’n good time Noblesville. 7pm. All ages