Jesus Loves Me

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know, For His Timidity Tells Me So…

My latest post for leadership training…we were talking about ways that Jesus welcomed and warned, included and separated, accepted and rejected:

Everyone has a worldview and mine includes the belief that prophets are scary. I know that this is partly due to meeting a one-eyed prophet when I was four (and yes, I’m sure the scariness was largely due to the one eye) but partly it is because prophets, even Godly ones, say uncomfortable things that require serious consideration and prayer. In writing this, I keep remembering the C.S. Lewis line “Is Aslan safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.” Dealing with God can be painful and uncomfortable at times (even amidst knowing God’s love and grace) and therefore prophets, as mouthpieces for God, can also be “unsafe” at times. But they should strive to be good.

And Jesus, perfection in the form of man, exemplifies this. Reading through the gospels this week looking for times when Jesus welcomed and warned, included and separated, accepted and rejected, was a wonderful exercise.

Jesus welcomed so many different types of people: women, the crowds (Luke 9:11), children (Mark 10:14) and sinners (Luke 15:2). Even those who think Jesus is on par with a man who says he is a poached egg (sorry, stuck on C.S. Lewis now…) would have to agree that Jesus was welcoming. He didn’t befriend people based on status or interests or likeability or personal hygiene. I find this simultaneously causes me to worship him and examine myself. Do I present a welcoming appearance and attitude towards those around me?

And he warned his disciples and those who listened to him on many occasions. He gave notice of possible danger (initial acceptance of the word does not guarantee that you are good soil, Luke 8), cautioned the disciples and those healed not to tell others who He was (Matt 9:30, 12:16, 16:20 and Mark 1:43, 8:30, 9:21) and he admonished against hypocrisy (Mark 8:15, 12:1). Do I warn people out of love and a sincere desire to see them succeed? Or do I secretly and gleefully point out their indiscretions to make myself look better?

In Matthew 13:49, Jesus explains that the angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous. Then again, in Matthew 25:32, he likens God separating the righteous from the unrighteous like a shepherd sorting his sheep. His message is clear: you can ignore God while living on earth but there will be a day of reckoning when the nations will be sorted out. This directly contradicts universalism, which would have us believe that everyone goes to heaven. Once again, I find myself rejoicing that I am included (and that I have a guarantee in the Holy Spirit, Eph 1:13-14) and anxious to be God’s ambassador to those around me – I want my coworkers and family and neighbors in Portland to be included.

And accepted.

I found a few passages on acceptance and rejection (Mark 4:20, John 13:20) but the one that really stood out to me was from John 12:48. Jesus was not a “tolerant” person or a timid soul but a passionate spokesman for his Father. It’s impossible to read this passage without getting a sense of the frustration Jesus feels in trying to make the people understand. To paraphrase, Jesus cries out “It’s not about ME. I don’t want you to listen to me and accept me for my own sake as if this was a prophet popularity contest. I want you to believe in me because I represent God. I want you to step out of the baggage and addictions and guilt that keep you chained in the darkness and step into the light. I am not here, in human form, to judge you. I want to save you. I want to save the entire world. But I must warn you, if you reject me, that you will be judged for it by the great Judge of all.” Can’t you feel Jesus’ anguish and his honesty as he conveys his message both positively (step into the light, I’ve come to save you) and negatively (this isn’t a game, you will be judged at the end)? He doesn’t use tactics and tricks to coax people into believing him. But he does love people enough to tell them the truth. I want to be someone who expends my energy on others – whether in interceding for them or incorporating the truth of God into our daily conversations. No sales pitches, no spiels, no judging – but simple truth, unwavering love and relentless devotion to God.

Give me a one track mind, Lord. Help me step out of my safety zones and be risky for you. Save me from a life of timidity.

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