As you might have noticed, I actually believe that Christianity is meant to have an impact in the world; that we are actually called, as Christians, to partner with God in changing the world. And that sometimes happens by just changing someone’s world.
But, if you are anything like me, this is often inspiring, but difficult to live out. You might say things like, “I’d love to be part of making the world a better place…but how do I do it? Where do I start? What does it look like for regular people?”
If you have ever read any of the stories of the saints, they might inspire you, but also leave you scratching your head for how to begin.
Well, the other day, I ran across this little acronym from Michael Frost about how to practically follow God in making daily impacts. It’s incredibly simple and straightforward. The hard part isn’t in understanding it, but in actually doing it. And, he gives these weekly small ideas for how to begin to make an impact…
B – Bless others. Do something that makes someone’s life better. Focus on blessing three people a week and at least one who doesn’t go to church
E – Eat with three people this week. That could be people in your workplace, friends or neighbours. And try to eat with at least one person who doesn’t go to church as well.
L – Listen. Simply stop and pray and listen for where the Holy Spirit is guiding you. So often the Holy Spirit is speaking, but we aren’t listening. So, slow down and listen.
L – Learn. Spend time reading the Bible with a focus on getting to know Jesus. If you’re not a regular reader, start with the Gospels. Focus in on getting to know Jesus, so you can live like Jesus.
S – Sent. Live realizing you’re sent and look for God active in the lives around you. And when you see it, take note of it.
And, in all honesty, these are pretty straightforward ways to start to change the world. Bless others, eat with others, listen to God’s Spirit, learn about Jesus and look for Jesus in the world. Sometimes the most counter-cultural and impactful decisions are to the simple, yet hard things.
So, if you’re looking to partner with God in changing lives, maybe it begins by inviting a neighbor over to eat; maybe it means cutting a friend’s grass; maybe it means carving some time out to listen to the Spirit; maybe it means reading the Gospels or just looking for God in your day. I know none of these are huge things, but God is often found in the small, regular, daily things.Remember, God isn’t asking us to do giant things, rather He is asking us to do faithful things. And, maybe that means a meal with friends this week. It’s not a bad place to start!
Today I want to talk about being human. And the truth is we don’t like being human. We want to be super-human. We want to push forward. We want to accomplish great things. We want to overcome our weaknesses and show the strength of our character, leadership, and endurance. We want to cover over our limitations and be self-made people.
The trouble is – this isn’t being human. This isn’t how we were meant to live.
How do I know that? Because Jesus is the true human. Jesus reveals how humanity truly is to look. Jesus often calls himself the “Son of Man”, which some scholars translate as the “Truly Human One”.
And if we look to Jesus we see someone embracing limitations. This might be shocking but it’s true. He sleeps, he says no, he goes off for quiet, and he doesn’t do everything or heal every single person in Israel. He has limitations.
Jesus also doesn’t cover up his weaknesses or struggles. And that too might sound shocking but it isn’t because he must have shared them with his disciples – because we read of them. We read of Jesus saying, Father if there is anyway out of this, please let me know. We read of Jesus being “hit in the gut” with grief when Lazarus dies. We read of real temptations from the devil.
We read of Jesus – being real.
But we don’t want to be real. We want to be strong, limitless people, with it all together. But this honestly isn’t the way Jesus demonstrates to be human. Jesus doesn’t know everything, but trusts in God in everything. Jesus doesn’t pretend he doesn’t have limits, but embraces them. Jesus doesn’t pretend to be strong at every single moment – he has temptations, struggles in the garden and says “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”?
The point I’m trying to make is that being human is our calling, and our culture’s view of being human is just wrong.
Michael Gungor writes:
Burnout is what happens when you try to avoid being human for too long.
And that’s true.
So is there any area of your life where you need to say no? Is there any area of your life, where you need to embrace your limits? Is there any area of your life that you need to say – help please!? Is there any area of your life where you just need to embrace being human.
Because learning to be human is actually learning to be like Jesus.
On Sunday we began with a cartoon. And with me there is a chance that its either Calvin and Hobbes, or The Farside (which I spent more hours reading in high school than…well probably any other book).
And Gary Larson has this great cartoon that looks like this. And here was my question for Sunday – how do we know God isn’t like this? Why is this funny? Why do we laugh – knowing its not like God has a smite button? How do we know that?
Because for many years, many people had this view of God. That if you step out of line, smiting, cursing, or punishment is on its way. If you’re crops failed, its because of that sin. If you get sick, its punishment and God smiting you. So how do you know that God isn’t like this?
Well the quick and easy, and true answer is this, because Jesus isn’t.
Jesus perfectly reveals God. Jesus is entrance into understanding God. God is Jesusy. The Bible makes it clear in multiple places that God is Jesusy (Hebrews 1; John 1:18; and others). And here is why this matters because:
If you’re God doesn’t look like Jesus, you have the wrong picture of God.
And there isn’t any other way around this. Gary Larson’s wrong, God isn’t like that, because Jesus isn’t like that.
And yes this surely brings up tensions, there are difficult parts to reconcile then in the Bible. But the point is this: we cannot compromise on the revelation of God in Jesus Christ, no matter what else we do. We will need to use care in exegeting some of the Hebrew Bible in light of Jesus, but we cannot compromise the revelation of God in Jesus.
With this understanding that Jesus reveals God, we got to know Jesu a bit better. We began by looking at the divinity of Jesus.
The divinity of Jesus was actually something that was debated for a while in early Christianity. Yet there are some clear indications that Jesus is fully God, as we attest and believe, in Scripture. We looked at the sinlessness of Jesus, we looked at how he forgave sins (something only God can do), and how he accepts worship. But by far the biggest thing that testifies to his divinity, is how he was resurrected from the dead by God. God through resurrecting his son, validates all his claims about whom he is (Rom 1:14).
We then looked at the humanity of Jesus. Now this is something that was clear to the early Christians, but that we struggle more with today. We like to think of Jesus as Superman. That he dresses up in humanity, like Clark Kent, but pulls out his superpowers to do miracles and so on. But this isn’t the picture the gospels paint – Jesus was fully human and Jesus is fully human.
Michael Bird writes this, “The fact the that the Logos was able to take on human form suggest that divinity and humanity are not mutually exclusive modes of being…The incarnation is not simply God assuming human form, as if human flesh were a mask over his real nature. Rather, the incarnation is God as a human being and complexly sharing in human properties. The incarnation shows us what God intended humanity to be and what it finally will be” (Evangelical Systematic Theology)
So with that we came to our main point for Sunday. And it was this:
That Christ is the Key
Jesus is the key for everything. He is the key for understanding God. He is also the key for understanding humanity and what it means to be human. Jesus is the key to everything. If you want to know God, if you want to know yourself – look to Jesus. So that was our challenge for Sunday – go home and read the gospels. Because the more you get to know him the clearer God becomes, and how to live life becomes clearer too.
Big Idea: Christ is the key
The foundation of our faith is Jesus Christ, first and foremost.
Jesus perfectly reveals God.
The lens we interpret the Bible through is Jesus.
We can’t give up on the centre of our faith and compromise that Jesus reveals God
Reasons for Divinity of Christ: Miracles, Forgives Sin, Sinless, Accepts Worship, and Was Resurrected.
Jesus was and is human.
Incarnation when Jesus enters the world isn’t for a moment, but for eternity.
Christ is the Key
If you want to be certain about God, get close to Jesus.
Read the gospels
Our comfort does not lie in the fact that we have pure doctrine or pure revelation. Our comfort does not lie in intellectual or spiritual certainty. Our comfort does not lie in the belief that we have grasped Jesus. Our comfort and only hope is that He has grasped us, called us, named us and chosen us, all of us, and that He alone is our hope. Michael Hardin
Adult Discussion Questions:
What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new? Have you ever thought of God as Jesusy? Is there anything in your picture of God, that isn’t “Jesusy”? How does having Jesus as the perfect revelation, give clarity to who God is? Which do you find easier to believe in: the humanity or divinity of Jesus? Why is that? Which of the gospels are you going to read?
Discussion Questions for Young Families
Ask your kids what God is like. Ask them what other people think God is like. Then share with them the most important thing – what Jesus says God is like! Have them think about how Jesus reveals God. Ask them, what is Jesus like? And then tell them that’s what God is like.
The other day Hudson and I were playing race cars. It was going great, and then he stopped and looked at me and asked: “I want Jesus to come over and play”. Because Hudson has a relationship with Jesus, he wants to play and connect with Jesus. This is a good thing.
But Hudson wasn’t quite done his questions. He was trying to figure out why Jesus hasn’t come over to play with him. So then he asked the next obvious question, “Daddy does Jesus have a car to drive or not?”
At first glance this question seems almost silly. We chuckle, and we grin. I sure did as my son asked me that question. Hudson wanted to know if Jesus lacked transportation and if that’s stopping him from coming over.
And so we chuckle a bit because the question seems so silly doesn’t it…because Jesus doesn’t need a car to visit us. It seems funny to think of Jesus needing a car, except that is exactly what the incarnation teaches us. That Jesus is human and experienced our needs as we do.
The point is, we are so accustomed to thinking of Jesus as the divine Son of God, that we forget or dimish his humanity. But if we forget Jesus’ humanity – Jesus quickly becomes distant, unapproachable, and irrelevant to our lives. So Hudson isn’t too far off in his question. He is trying to relate Jesus to his world, where people drive cars, play race cars, and watch TV. Hudson is just reminding us of Jesus’ humanity, which is something we need to be reminded of.
We do not simply follow a God who pretended to be like us, but one who became one of us. He became one of us, so we could become like him. This is just a good reminder that Jesus is both divine and human. We cannot forget either fact. To miss out on either side, is to miss out on who Jesus is. So I’m not sure how Jesus would get around today, but what I am sure of is that he would want to come over and play race cars with Hudson. So that’s what I told him, and then we made “vroom vroom” sounds for the rest of the afternoon.
Earlier last week as I was getting Hudson dressed we were having a conversation. And I told him that his mommy and me love him and Asher more than anyone else in the world. Hudson then said that he knows that and loves us too – and that “lots of people love him”. He then started counting off the people who love him, “Grandma, Nana, Papa, Cousin Caleb” and on and on. He also said that Jesus loves him. And I said, “yes of course Jesus loves you!”
And then he said something that is both profound and true, “But daddy I wish Jesus wasn’t invisible. I want to see Jesus”.
And I thought to myself how true. People need to not only hear about Jesus, but they need to see him. They need to see him through our actions, our words, and our deeds. My prayer is that as Hudson grows up, he will come to know Jesus through how I love him, how Jesus changes me, and through his own personal encounters with Jesus.
But the first step for so many people – before they encounter the Risen Christ themselves is to “see him”. And I think this is where we, as his followers, need to be intentional. Through our actions, our words, our deeds and our creative acts of love people can come into contact with Jesus through us. They can see him through us. This is both our privilege and our calling. We can be the hands and feet of Jesus. We can bring Jesus to people in tangible ways. We can not only represent him, but reflect him to the people around us.
And so I believe and pray that as I follow Jesus, that Hudson will grow up learning to not only see Jesus but encounter him himself. But I also know I have a huge role to play in this. I can be a hindrance or a help to his seeing and encountering Jesus.
So the question I’d like to leave you with is this: is your life helping people to “see” Jesus?
And maybe a better question: how can you live your life in such a way that people “see” Jesus more clearly through you?
Because Hudson is right – people want to see Jesus.
Earlier this week I heard a really great story, of how people came out to our church, connected, and had God speak to them. It was very moving to hear about how God was working in their lives, and it got me really excited.
This is wonderful and beautiful, and there is something powerful that happens when the church gathers together. And it’s my honest hope that whenever we gather together as a community that life change happens, that people experience God, and that new life is found. But here is the interesting thing this life change for these people didn’t begin in our church, it began in a home.
You see long before these people were ever invited to church, they were invited into a home of someone a part of our church. Long before they ever crossed the door into our church building, they were welcomed into a home many times. Long before they ever heard me share on grace and life, they saw a friend demonstrate grace and life to them.
So the point is that if we want to see life change, the church is important, but let us not forget about our homes. Because I believe that change often starts in the home with hospitality. When people, as the church, practice hospitality it sparks transformation. When we invite friends, neighbors, and co-workers into our circles sharing grace, trust and hope, this is where life change begins. I absolutely believe we all need to be connected to a local community. I just know it often begins with being connected around a table, a meal, and a cup of coffee first.
So invite people to join in your church. Invite people to join with Jesus in what he is doing. Just don’t forget one of the first steps…to invite them over to your house first.