“Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness and pride of power and with its plea for the weak. Christians are doing too little to make these points clear rather than too much. Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now. Christians should take a stronger stand in favor of the weak rather than considering first the possible right of the strong.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
We don’t need to remake Jesus into an MMA fighter in order to make him palatable. Neither to we need to alter him into a counterfeit cover model for a romance novel. Jesus is who he was; his repeated words and actions clearly and powerfully identify his priorities.
First, Jesus told us his words were his Father’s words because he came to do his Father’s will. (John 4:34, 6:38, 10:30)
He told us to love God and our neighbors; that if we do this, we will keep all law. (Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:30-31, Luke 10:27)
He told us to love each other, and by this love all people would know we follow him. (John 13:34-35)
He told us to love our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-45, Luke 6:27)
He told us not to judge. (Matthew 7:1-5, Luke 6:37)
He told us to focus on our own weaknesses and handle those before we ever accuse anyone of sinning. (Matthew 7:1-29)
He told us to be wary of using religion or religious law as a club (tough love) to beat people, thus preventing them from coming into the Father’s embrace and rendering us hypocrites. (Luke 11:46-52)
He told us to feed, clothe, take in and help free the poor, refugees and immigrants. (Matthew 25:31-46)
Finally, he told us if we love him, we will keep these commandments. (Mark 4:1-20, John 14:15, 23-24)
This is our cross to bear as we choose to follow him daily. (Mark 8:34, Luke 14:27, 16:13)
Many of us choose to focus on pointing out sin and think this is our most noble cause. But this is not what our Father wants us to do. If this was so, why bring Jesus to earth to change the world from Old Testament thinking to New Testament thinking? He could have left us to concentrate on doing our way into heaven.
Everything changed with Jesus. Life is no longer about our doing; it is about our being in him, about our abiding in the Spirit. Jesus never asked anyone to change before he gave them unconditional love. The love always came first, without condition. And the asking was because he already knew change was in their hearts.
When we abide in the Spirit, we reflect his love, joy and peace. We exude his patience, kindness and generosity. We breathe his faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. And all this comes from his vast love and lavish grace, which we then willingly deliver to others.
When we live from the wellspring of God’s love, unlimited love gushes from The Source. Abundant forgiveness cascades from His fountain. Extravagant grace streams from the unending reservoir of His heart. And we have eternal access to it all.
Sometimes, we must go against the tide and take a stand for Jesus. Sometimes, we simply have to say, “Enough.” Sometimes, we have to let the Spirit speak in love and truth. Because His words are louder and more powerful than any words we can say by ourselves.
In the spirit of keeping His words alive, I have permanently placed the words of Jesus in Matthew 25 below in red. Please read them; keep them upon your heart. Act on them as Jesus would have you act upon them. I pray they abide in your spirit.