"Beginning with Moses and the prophets, Jesus interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things Concerning Himself."
"And the Word Became flesh and dwelt among us, and info we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."
What are We About, Anyway?
There is a real sense in Which the very work of Jesus is completed. Indeed, when it comes to our standing as beloved, forgiven Treated-as-blameless children of God, it is finished as Jesus said. His sinless life That satisfied God's requirement for His be Gained by a life of perfection. Jesus lived That Life On Behalf Of all who make would look to Him as Their trust. And, His sinner's death (though He was without sin) and eleven satisfied God's requirement for all That justice be satisfied Toward the sins of His people. Jesus died the death Should Have we died, we would live So THAT. What a breathtaking reality In Which We now live. God does not treat us as our sins deserve, Jesus Because He Treated as our sins deserve!
In another sense, there is still much work to do Intends That Jesus! The very first look of the book of Acts Indicates That the work of Jesus on earth was not completed with His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. Luke writes, "In the first book (the Gospel of Luke), O Theophilus, I have Dealt With All That Jesus Began to do and teach." Began to do and teach? How Could there be more? That's where we as Christ's ambassadors eats into the picture. We are now the chosen ones, called into the world as His messengers, as Those Who, filled with His Spirit, Represent Him to the world. In short, the ministry of Jesus continues on through Christians.
Implied in the fact That we are His "ambassadors," His true Representatives to the world, Is that we work in every way possible to model our ministries and our message after His. We will be a people "full of grace and truth," a people Whose churches and ministries, Because we are acting and speaking as Jesus did, will be Attracting the types of people who Were Attracted to Jesus, and (without Intending to do so ) the types of offending people Who were offended by Jesus.
This purpose of [my blog], then, is to flesh out some of the Implications of what we need to be emphasizing in our ministries as we seek to build Gospel-driven ministry cultures and herald a Gospel-driven message, Both of Which Will be, as Jesus was, "full of grace and truth."
Building an Atmosphere That is "Full of Grace"
Before we talk messages acerca building Christ-centered, it is crucial to Emphasize the Importance of an overall atmosphere of Christ-centered ministry. The Christ-centered message will be heard and received only to the degree it is That embodied in the overall culture of our ministries.
This section is the first of two Dealing with what it means to cultivate the "aroma of Jesus" in our ministries. We Will Consider how específicamente to Encourage a Jesus-like atmosphere That ministry is "full of grace" (John 1:14), to the end of all stripes That people (Whether Christian or not) know without a doubt That we (like Jesus ) are for them not against them.
As we think acerca forming Christ-centered messages, we must keep in mind several key attributes of a message That is truly Christ-centered, Whether Given That message is from a pulpit, in a small group, or in a casual conversation over coffee or beer.
First, to be "full of grace," we must take great care to Eliminate all barriers That stand Between the Real Jesus and people's false impressions of Him.
Gandhi was asked why I had eleven rejected Christ. His answer (this is a paraphrase), was as follows: ".. It is not I have rejected Christ It is Christians I have rejected I am not a Christian because i see so few of His followers acting like their Master."
If we are serious about having Christ-centered ministries, we need to listen very Carefully to statements like this one. We must examine the Most Common barriers That stand Between the Real Jesus and people's false impressions of Him - impressions Which, unfortunately, Have Been Projected to a watching world by sincere yet misguided Christian brothers and sisters. These barriers include:
The condemnation barrier. Christian writer Philip Yancey asks Often people on airplanes What They Think About Bible-believing Christians in the Western world. The answer I gets, with very little exception, Is that Christians are judgmental, intolerant, and holier-than-thou. When the September 11 terrorist attacks took place on the World Trade Center, one very well-known Christian leader confirmed this stance by saying on national television, "If you are a homosexual, a member of the ACLU, in behalf of abortion, or part of the People of the American Way, then I point my finger in your face and say YOU DID THIS. YOU made this happen. "
A Christian friend of mine who is an actor eleven invited a gay friend over to have dinner With Him and his wife. Their guest soon Realized (from the Bible on the coffee table) That They Were Christians. I then asked my friend, "You are a Christian, and you actually like me?" This is tragic, yet all too common.
If we are serious about giving off an "aroma" that is Christ-centered, we must humbly own up to the fact That many people, Especially Those Regarded as "sinners" by many religious communities, dislike them and think Christians are against them. Whether this is true or not específicamente, it is our starting point in the minds of Most non-Christian people. If we ourselves are not guilty, then we are at the very Least guilty by association with our brothers and sisters Who Have misrepresented the biblical Jesus to our culture. THEREFORE we must take Personal Responsibility ministry in our atmosphere, in our message, and in our way of life, to reorient people's perception of Christians, and Especially of Christ Himself.
The separation barrier. In a day When many of Christ's followers wish to separate Themselves and Their children from anyone and anything That is secular, would-be Christ-centered ambassadors must do all we can to lean against this thinking - doing everything we can to Become friends with as many non-Christian and non-Christian people groups as we can - with no strings attached. This needs to be a central core value of our Christian communities. It is helpful to look at the life of Jesus In this regard. Luke 15:1-2 plainly tell us That All the tax collectors and "sinners" made a habit of hanging around Jesus. They wanted to be near Him, and They wanted to hear what I had to say. Meanwhile, insiders religious Were Regularly accusing Jesus of being a glutton, a drunk, and a friend of sinners (Luke 7:34). We Know That the Allegations of sin Were false - Jesus was tempted in every way but not without. But I was unapologetically a true friend to the Least and the lost, and to Those Typically Marginalized by religious sub-cultures of His day. The one who "welcomed sinners and ate with them" Gospel now beckons people to do the same. This needs to Become more than just part of our theology - it needs to characterize the life and practice of our ministries!
The reputation barrier. There is a price to pay if we get serious about creating That environments are "full of grace." In becoming a "friend of sinners" as Jesus was, Should we expect significant resistance. The plain fact is That When We start doing some of the things Jesus did, some believers Will Become suspicious of us. Consider Luke 7 for example, When a "sinful woman" Enters the home of Simon the Pharisee. In the name of love, and in the spirit of being "full of grace," Jesus received her very UN-orthodox worship and display of affection Toward Him. He breaks with religious customs, Allowing the woman to touch His feet (feet Were Considered unclean, and you could not even ask a slave to touch them for this reason!). I have breaks with social customs also, as his disciple Receiving her. It was scandalous in Jesus' day for a Rabbi to take a woman as a disciple, much less a woman with a questionable history. But not for Jesus. Most scandalous, however it, That is the way Jesus breaks with moral customs. The woman lets her hair down (in the first century and I this was grounds for divorce - a woman was only to do this in the Presence of her immediate family). She touches Him With the tools of her trade. I anoint Him lets her with a prostitute's scent and kiss her with a prostitute's lips! Of course we know the rest of the story - Jesus was discarded as a man of ill repute, as guilty by association, by religious "insiders" who failed to see the eternal value of loving the Least and the lost.
But let's bring it into our day and age. This has serious ramifications for Those of us who wish to Represent Jesus well. The reality Is that if Jesus Were a 21st century American, I would not associate with godliness membership in a political party. I would not tell a lesbian she was outside of God's will without offering her a personal Also, no-strings-attached friendship. I would not talk acerca how smoking destroys God's temple (while at the same time devouring a porterhouse steak with a buttery potato!). I would not condemn adultery as being any worse than studying the Bible for the Wrong Reasons! If we are accustomed to setting up our own Mishnah, our own set of "clean laws" that define one's worthiness to be received into the fellowship, we need to give serious re-evaluation to our methods and Priorities!
The pride barrier. Becoming a "friend of sinners" Begins with coming to terms With the fact That Often we are more like Hitler than we are like Christ. Our approach with people (Whether Christian or non-Christian) must be as "humbly fellow beggars telling others where to find the bread" (Steve Brown). If we sincerely want people to see the impact of the Gospel, and if we sincerely want them to see the beauty of God's grace, Then They must first see in us the humility of Those Who Have Been truly and deeply impacted by God's mercy and grace , and humility That must be the real thing and not just an act. Paul was not above humbling himself. In Romans 7've Gives us a window into his staff struggle with the sin of coveting (a nobody would see no Unless I Told them!), And the ways in Which That heals without the Gospel.
In 1 Timothy Paul Identifies himself the chief of all sinners. If we would be Christ-centered in our ministries and our messages, we need to get over our love for reputation and image. Realizing Without it, we can begin to build our identities on how good we look? The "model Christian" that all will look up to. This is a trap and will rob our ministries of power. If people in our ministries are to be changed by the grace of Jesus, They Must Regularly see the Gospel Effectively working in our lives - healing us of our sins and deepest wounds and fears.
Second, to be "full of grace," we must take great care to Ensure That, relationally speaking, our Christian communities are sinner-safe.
There was a reason why ALL the sinners ran to Jesus on a regularly basis (Luke 15:1-2). Though I was against They Knew Their sin (I never watered down the law's Demands!) They wanted to be around Him Because They Knew Precisely why I was without Their against Because he was for them! If we would be a "full of grace" people, several Commitments must characterize us, our ministries, and our message:
A Commitment to respect and value all people. People must sense under our ministries us defining them by Their God-given dignity, not by Their failures. If we are not careful, we can fall into the trap Easily of diminishing the worth of a human being in This Way: When we think of them, we think first of Their free and the ways They need to be "fixed" rather than thinking of them as image-bearers made for glory. The Following quote from CS Lewis is extremely helpful to this perspective:
It is maybe possible to think too much of your own potential glory hereafter. But it is impossible to think too deeply or Too Often About That of your neighbors. The weight of my neighbor's glory Should be laid daily on my back. So heavy to weight it Is that only humility can carry it. It's a serious thing to live in a society of immortals.
To Remember That millions of years from now, the dullest and Most uninteresting person you meet May one day be an incredible creature, who if you saw him now you would be tempted to worship Strongly. All day long we are in some degrees helping each other to one or the other of These destinations. It is in light of These THEREFORE overwhelming possibilities, it is With the proper amount of awe and circumspection That We Should conduct all of our dealings With One another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.
There are no ordinary people. You have never Talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations, These are mortal, and Their life is to our life as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals Whom we joke with, work, marry, snub and exploit? Your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. (CS Lewis, The Weight of Glory)
A biblical view of sin. Defining people by Their dignity does not Imply That We Should not without challenge! If we are really going to love people as Jesus does, we will love their welfare, que means we will be deeply desire That They obedient to God! So, the question is not, "Do we confront without?" but rather "How do we confront without, and with what motivation do we confront without?" We must be on God's schedule here. He is so vehemently Opposed to non tanto para glory and His own (how can we forget Easily) He is so passionately FOR the human being! God? S desire is That we live by His design, que is life to us!
A grace-and mercy-filled attitude Toward Those who commit no. Whenever we speak not of any kind against, we must take great care to Ensure That We no speak against Because We Care so deeply for the one who is sinning. Otherwise, we shouldn? T say anything at all about no. If you watch the news you are no doubt familiar With the group who picketed the funeral (!) Of Mathew Sheppard (the young gay man who was beaten to death by some of his peers) with signs That said things: such as "God hates fags "and" Thank God for AIDS. " This example is extreme Certainly. However, we must zealously guard against the seeds in our own hearts That are prone to despise sinners rather than welcoming sinners and Eating with them. We must guard our hearts from desiring a sinner's harm instead of his / her well-being (Even the Lord Takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked!). We do well to remember Jesus, who stood over Jerusalem (who had rejected His message and His Person) and wept for them.
This being the case, the "feel" of no-talk in our ministries must be deeply Such That people feel exposed and at the same time NOT REJECTED! If we would be a "full of grace" people, then people who are driven to repentance and grief over Their without doubt will not be Un Certain That We as leaders, and Those under our leadership, accept and love them right where They are, wherever They are in the process knowing and obeying Toward Christ. Jesus did much more than Merely tolerate sinful people in His midst. I cherished them, and Pursued Their Hearts That They Might Become free indeed.
Third, to be "full of grace," we must take great care to keep first things first.
This means two things Essentially:
Jesus, and nothing else, is our "main thing" at all times! Keeping first things first That means our primary emphasis, our primary "hang up," is always the Person and work of Christ. Even Paul himself. "Among Decided to know nothing (Those under his ministry) except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2)" What this means is:
Everything else Takes a back seat to Jesus! As a "full of grace" people, We Will Become That Most concerned people "get on board" with Jesus Than That they "get on board" with whatever is our schedule - Whether political, ethical, or otherwise. While These things do have Their place, They must always be secondary to a vision for people to meet Christ and know Him for who He really is. Consider the following quote from Rev. Timothy Keller:
We (need to) be careful with the order in Which We Communicate the parts of the faith. Pushing moral behaviors before we lift up Christ is religion. The church today is calling people to God with a tone of voice That seems to confirm Their worst fears. Religion has Always Been outside-in "if I behave out here in All These ways, then I will have God's blessing and love inside." But the Gospel is inside-out: "if I know the blessing and grace of God inside, then I can behave out here in All These ways." A woman who Had been attending our church for several months came to see me.
"Do you think abortion is wrong?" she asked. I said That I did.
"I'm coming now to see That maybe there is something wrong with it," she replied, "Now That I have become a Christian here and Have started studying the faith in the classes."
As we spoke, I discovered That she was an Ivy League graduate, a lawyer, a long-time Manhattan resident, and an active member of the ACLU. She VOLUNTEERED That She had experienced three abortions.
"I want you to know," she said, "that if I had seen any literature or reference to the 'pro-life' movement, I would not have stayed through the first service. Stay But I did, and I found faith in Christ. If abortion is wrong, You should speak out against it Certainly, but I'm glad about the order in Which you do it. "
This woman had had her birth into Incubated faith in our Sunday services. In worship, we center on the question "what is truth?" and the one who had the audacity to say, "I am the truth. ' That is the big issue for postmodern people, and it's hard to swallow. Nothing is more subversive and prophetic than to say Truth has Become a real person. We, of all people, ought to understand and agree with fears acerca religion, for Jesus himself warned us to be wary of it, and not to mistake a call for moral virtue for the good news of God's salvation provided in Christ. (Timothy Keller, Religion-less Spirituality)
To sum it all up?
When it pertains to cultivating a "full of grace" culture ministry and message, we need to Consider how we are presenting Christ to people who are not Christian or Either somewhere along the journey of Overcoming sin (that's all of us, is not it ?). Given the Following chart is as an aid for preparing our atmosphere and our messages to be in Line with the Gospel of grace. Obviously, we want to lean against legalistic Both the grid and the grid liberal, and saturate everything we think, say, and do from the perspective of the Gospel grid.
Different models of ministry and the "hurdles" They Must Overcome people feel in order to Become "insiders"
Related Media Click on the right to see a grid of the different models of ministry.
Parts 2 & 3 to this blog post will Appear later this summer.