We are taking the summer to fix our eyes on Jesus. Last week we looked at the truth that Jesus was with God in beginning, and that through Jesus, God created all things. That truth should give us hope that when we come to Him, we are not coming to a God who is weak and powerless, put in fact holds you together with his power.
Today we are looking at the following verses, and I want to remind us of the two ways we want to be looking at the text. First and foremost, we need to understand it so we grow in our own affections towards Christ. Secondly we need to understand it so we can learn how we can minister to others in similar ways to HIm.
Now that caution that you may not even be aware of. When you start talking about following Jesus as an example for ministry, you need to be very careful. You see, you can never loose sight of the fact that Jesus didn’t come primarily to be an example for us, and by no means does our following HIs example save us. Paul said it best, he came into the world to save sinners, not by following His example, but by trusting in Him for salvation.
While we need to be mindful of that as we study Christ and learn from His example, that should not keep us from following His example.
Today we are going to look at a broad way in which Jesus ministered to people, and how we can learn from that. I want us to see how He ministers to us, and how we are to minister to one another. The question I want to ask to get you thinking and engaging with this text is this: Think of the worst place you can that people inhabit. Wherever that is, think about it, is is a crack-house, or a hut in a desert, or maybe a street corner, or maybe a bad part of town, Washington DC. How for would you go to share the gospel with someone?
Lets read the text:
-The Creator of the universe put on flesh and became a human baby… Think about that… no matter how good you have it, the difference between your life and your worst nightmare is paper thin compared to the universal difference between creating the universe, and wrapping yourself in flesh… if that doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will…
-He dwelt among us… culture, customs, dress, language, dirt, filth, pain, poverty, work, strains of household… all those things he experienced. He gave up eternal communion with the father and the HS, so He could dwell among us. Several reasons: 1. so he could fulfill the law, and live a sinless life and be our substitute. 2. So He could be killed in our place. 3. So he could be raised from death, to seal and guarantee our salvation. 4. So that he might be an empathetic High Priest, able to sympathize with us in our weakness because He was tempted as we are, yet, He did not sin. 5. So that we might have an example to follow of how to love, and care for people, how to minister to them, and to call them to repentance.
I have spent a lot of time preaching about the first 4 of those points, so I will not belabor them, except to say that the first three are primary reasons, the next two are secondary reasons, very important, but not necessarily required for our salvation. But I do want to look at the last one as to how we minister to others.
So, what is the pattern of dealing with the culture of the time that Jesus set for us? Now I will say that much of my thought on this topic has been influenced by a number of preachers who have a lot to say about the culture, and how we are to respond to it. These are not original to me…
In our day there are two predominant ways people interact with the culture:
Syncretism: Everything in the culture is good, and we need to assimilate that into our beliefs. Whether you know it or not, there are thing that you have assimilated into I your worldview that you receive from the culture around you and not from scripture. ” good luck”, “knock on wood”, “what goes around comes around”… Those were mild things, but much more significant examples are there. Have you ever wondered why Christians stood by and condoned the enslaving of human beings for so long? Even using scriptures out of context to give themselves permission to continue in it. The culture was doing something, and rather than fighting it, they synced it up with Christianity, and gave people a free pass.
Another is the idea of a self made man/woman…
Separatism: Everything in the culture is bad, and we need to seal ourselves off from all hints of it. Some extreme examples are the Quakers, and Amish communities. But we can be Separatist if in way as well. If you refuse to get involved in people’s lives at work, or school. Or even if you are willing to interact with them, but not too far.
There is a third way that people interact with culture that is gaining ground in our time among some churches.
Subversion: There are things in our culture that are good and bad, what we need to do is understand the culture around us, so that we know how to best articulate the truth of the Gospel to those in that culture. Discern with the Word what we need to redeem and what we need to reject. In the next few weeks we will be looking at how Jesus interacted with the culture he was in how there were things he redeemed, things he rejected, but for now, think about your own heart.
Now there are ways that we can be syncretistic and sectarian at the same time, it just depends on what culture you are immersed in as to how you adopt it. our biggest danger syncritistically is adapting the American Dream with our faith in Christ…
Our greatest danger sectarianally is if we refuse to associate with, or if we hold animosity in our hearts towards people we don’t agree with.
let me ask you a few questions for homework:
Do you know what the generation behind your own is called?
As you think about reaching out to the world around us, and building God’s church, what generation do you see as the predominant demographic?
Do you know what separates your generation from theirs?
As an example, I know that the greatest Generation, and the baby boomers have some things in common with how they relate to one another…. At times I have looked down on this…
Here is good news and the homework.
Homework: If you don’t know the answers to those questions, I would recommend you find out the answers.
Now for the good news: You don’t have to know all the answers to be used by Jesus. He will use you no matter what, so the point is not to just get educated, the point is to cultivate a heart of getting into the messiness of life with those around us, and loving them where they are, and sharing the light of the Gospel with them.