I have been a believer for almost 22 years of my life. In that 22 years I have tested God numerous times and have felt I have abused the “all have fallen short of the glory of God” verse. Yet with all my history of mistakes and shame I’ve overcome; the one behavior I have despised the most within myself and others is when Jesus is a joke. What do I mean by this? Simple. ..when you claim Jesus as your Lord and Savior and act as if it’s a joke, not an honor.
This wasn’t a reality to me until one stupid night I had in college. She and I were both highly involved in the campus ministry. She and I were on and off dating, searching for what we really wanted….but God HAD to be involved. She and I decided to have sex one night wrecklessly in my dorm room….then Jesus slapped me HARD in the face as His picture hung right above my bed and I locked eyes with Him in the middle of my poor choice.
You see, it’s one thing to claim to live for Him, it’s another to actually LIVE for Him as the word describes:
Luke 14:26 NIV
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.”
It’s a deeper sacrifice that many, if any, could even compare. What breaks my heart the most is to watch those in the church….the place where Jesus should be shown the most, make a joke out of their commitment and service to Him towards others seeking Him. What’s even worse is they don’t even realize they are being this way. It’s become the “norm”….the proverbial box where Jesus has been put in the human mind’s limited and fearful interpretations of the truth in God’s word.
With our human frailties and narrowed minded views, we give an often smaller picture of how awesome Jesus is to others. It’s then typically described base solely upon that individual’s time spent studying about Him. How can we feel comfortable about limiting Jesus this way? Haven’t we had plenty of loving encouragement and strict warnings about the importance of following His words?
Revelation 3:15-18, 20 NIV
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
What part of lukewarm do we not understand? Let alone the meaning and purposeful description of Him SPITTING YOU OUT OF HIS MOUTH!? In the same latter verses, He states that He stands at our door and knocks…. Who when they knock at our door do we not go to answer it? Then He will come in and dine(eat) with us, and we will dine(eat) with Him! Yet we would like to stand Him in the doorway, have meaningless conversations with Him at an arms distance. This is not what He desires for us, so why do we constantly do this??
Here’s what I think: I think we are so comfortable with the Jesus SEEN in professed “Christians” that we have lost a drive to dig deeper and live more obedient to the Jesus of the Word. Jefferson Bethke, writer of the book “Jesus > Religion” states:
“The Jesus of the Bible is a radical man with a radical message, changing people’s lives in a radical way. In the Scriptures, Jesus isn’t safe. No one knew what to do with him. The liberals called him too conservative, and the conservatives called him too liberal. I mean, think about it: His first miracle was turning water into wine. He made a whip of leather and went UFC on people who’d pimped out his father’s temple. He completely disregarded any social, gender, or racial boundary his society imposed. He called himself the Son of God. He called himself the judge over everyone, determining who goes to heaven and hell. He said things like, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” That’s dangerous— and weird.”
We are NOT meant to be of this world when we accept Jesus as our Savior. We are meant to be as radical and obedient and sacrificial as Peter and Andrew were when Jesus approached them and simply said, “Come, Follow me….”(Matthew 4:19). They left their homes, families and livelihoods and followed the Savior. Why are we unable to do more of that today? LIVE that in LOVE with Jesus today??
This kind of mockery of His personality and who He IS gives others who are seeking the “jokester” attitude. Now granted, the picture above is funny to read….but the meaning behind it is purposeful. Everything Jesus was ever reported to have said or did was on purpose and for our benefit. The Apostle Paul meant whole heartedly what he wrote in our needing to have the attitude of Jesus:
Philippians 4:8 NLT
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
How hard is it to fix your thoughts on those things? I know for me that I cannot always fix my mind on those things….but I know this because our bodies, minds, thoughts, etc; are all corrupted because of the sin we’ve been born into. We all fall short, as mentioned before, yet some believe their specks in their eyes aren’t really logs either. Here I am, 38 years old and part-time pastoring….and killing bugs. My passion is to serve. My desire is to be His hands and feet. My wish is to lead a community in revival…in a church body.
When Jesus knew He was to be betrayed soon and ultimately die, He went to a quiet place to pray and be with His Father. The anguish caused Him to sweat blood (See the beautiful picture above–Luke 22:44). My craving to be rid of these human burdens and weaknesses is so great; I reflect upon this vision of Jesus and His emotional state. I don’t want to be a joke. I don’t want to change His words to my own; even though I know in some ways I always will because I’m human.
To many church leaders of the old traditions see my ministry as a kind of joke. Being divorced is already a strike of unrighteousness. To serve as a leader I must be dang near perfect I guess; as if being married to one for 20+ years is a prerequisite. To teach the word of God you must be seen as a well balanced man or woman with very little faults or known sins. Even though Jesus can be less emphasized and “watered-down” by those unable to know the depth of real repentive grace.
I guess these people were a mistake God made for His work:
~Noah was a drunk
~ Abraham was too old
~ Isaac was a daydreamer
~ Jacob was a liar
~ Leah was ugly
~ Joseph was abused
~ Moses had a stuttering problem
~ Gideon was afraid
~ Samson had long hair and was a womanizer
~ Rahab was a prostitute
~ Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
~ David was an adulterer and a murderer
~ Elijah was suicidal
~ Isaiah preached naked
~ Jonah ran from God
~ Naomi was a widow
~ Job went bankrupt
~ John the Baptist ate bugs
~ Peter denied Christ
~ The disciples fell asleep while praying
~ Martha worried about everything
~ The Samaritan woman was divorced (more than once)
~ Zaccheus was too small
~ Paul was too religious
~ Timothy had an ulcer
~ Lazarus was dead!
….I guess I’m a joke. But I am and always will be me….a crazy, goofy, child-like, passionate, loving, not-perfect, still struggling sinner; who will get in your face and love you awkwardly until you see Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life!! I don’t care about my sin’s because Jesus took care of them! I don’t judge who you are or where you’ve been! If you’re in the valley I’ll jump in there with you until we let Jesus pull us out! If your tired, I will help you up and fill your cup with love!
If I’m not good enough to be your church’s pastor….then that’s ok; I’ll be a joke for Jesus anyday and when I’m called to one again, He’ll make it for His glory! 🙂