Just Jesus

I can’t help but feel that Christianity is in a mess. I am ashamed of what is done in the name of Christ. I am embarrassed by many who call themselves Christian. I believe when Jesus considers the situation, He weeps. It’s not our job to determine who the Christians are. It’s not our job to point out who the sinners are. (Since we are all sinners that would be a wasted activity, don’t you think?) We are not commissioned to raise buildings or empires. It isn’t complicated. We are called to tell.

I suppose it might be possible to list all the problems; but I’m not sure that would get us any closer to the solution. I think the solution is to simplify and remember, “Just Jesus.”

The word “gospel” originally described the word that was spread throughout the Roman empire when a new Emperor ascended to the throne. “Gospel” as used throughout the New Testament,  refers not to a theology or movement, but to a person, now ascended to the throne as King of King and Lord of Lords. 

Jesus consistently pointed to Himself.   Paul, Peter, John, they all. preached Jesus. The gospel is the proclamation of Jesus—His Life, Story, and Work from Adam to the New Testament. Jesus of Nazareth is the good news.For this reason, the four Gospels were regarded as “the gospel” by the early church. And what story do the four gospels tell? They tell the story of Jesus. He is the gospel incarnate. 

But even focusing on the historical Jesus isn’t quite right. Who cares about a man who lived 2000 years ago? What they care about is Jesus who is alive now and is changing lives still. 

In twenty-five words or less, what has Jesus done for you? What’s He still doing? That’s the gospel for you to tell. That’s the news that makes them pay attention. That’s the story that will make a difference. That’s the story that saves.

Tell it and be blessed and forget the rest.

Nick

Earthen Vessels

“Always buy the most hideous house in the neighborhood, so at least you won’t have to look at it.” – Unknown

I guess in this generation we spend way too much time watching television. If you are a tv person you can get the idea that everyone is twenty-something and gorgeous. Trying sitting in the back of church (or looking in a mirror) to get a dose of reality. 

I like sitting in the back of church. I do it not just so I can slip out if the sermon is a bit weak or if nature calls (as it seems to do more frequently as I age.) I guess I enjoy seeing all the earthen vessels. The longer I am a member the more I know the stories inside those vessels, and the more I am blessed.

Most of us are not twenty-something and our beauty pageant days are way behind us, if they ever existed at all. But that’s all just part of God’s plan. From the day of our birth these earthen vessels are starting to deteriorate. Our society’s frantic attempts to slow or prevent that decay is just more evidence of our of lack of acceptance that this is not our home and our stay here is temporary. 

But our bodies are not who we are. We are terrible in our people judgment based on how they appear. This morning I watched a heartwarming story of an autistic child who was harassed at a Mardi Gras parade because of her appearance. She was harassed by drunk teenagers. I wonder how they appeared. 

More than once, after giving a talk at a Kairos meeting, a resident has told me he was shocked by how good the talk was. “I didn’t expect that coming from you.” All that was known about me was how I appear.

We need to stop judging each other by the earthen vessels we inhabit. We also need to stop being refrained from doing what we are called to do because of the appearance of our vessel. 

If we spent half as much time doing His work as we do polishing the vessel, our satisfaction would multiple.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7. 

So if your jar isn’t of TV quality, rejoice. All that shines from it clearly comes from above.

Shine without polish and be blessed.

Nick

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Galatians 5:17  For the desires of the flesh are against the spirit and the desires of the spirit are against the flesh. For these things are opposed to each other to keep you from what  you want to do.

Contrary forces seem to plague most of creation. Consider marriage. Men and women are different; no matter what political correctness may dictate. It’s why marriage is so tough. 

Our natures have opposing elements; particularly once our spirit is ignited after we come to Christ. I remember years ago sharing a room with a friend at a men’s retreat. He had just been baptized in the spirit and spoke in his prayer language for hours. I recall him laying in his bed and commenting,”All things are spiritual.” Nice thought but not true. As far as I know he is no longer following Christ. In fact, he is very much in and of the world. 

Our nature is like a successful marriage. Success doesn’t come with one partner dominating the other; but with both putting the marriage first. In a successful marriage, the partners adopt and adapt. The union becomes more important than the partners.

If we are to be successful in our walks, we need to recognize the contributions of both flesh and spirit. Until heaven, we need the flesh to carry us around, to observe and communicate with our world, to be the hands of Christ. We need the spirit to communicate with our God, to restrain and direct the flesh, to inspire our lives. 

If we ignore the spirit, we fail to grow in our knowledge and love of God and in our understanding of our role in His plan. If we ignore the flesh, we weaken our ability to care out that plan on this earth.

We may often feel as the writer of Galatians did that our flesh and spirit are at war. If we recognize the place of both, we can make a difference in the natural world led by the Spirit.

Some have used the analogy of horse and rider. We need to have the spirit provide the direction, to be the rider. When the flesh is in charge we are at risk.

Earth is not our home; but it’s where we are assigned for now. Get your orders straight and get to work.

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Z)’>serve one another. 14 For AB)’>“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you A)’>we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against C)’>the cosmic powers over E)’>the spiritual forces of evil 234