Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, his work. ‘The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared’ (Luther).
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community
Today’s post features my good friend Bryan Hamilton. Bryan is part of our house church and has recently been instrumental in getting an LTG started. For those who don’t know him, Bryan has a very unique perspective on life and loves to photoshop himself (and others) in unusual situations. Bryan blogs regularly on Facebook about Jesus, his personal journey into spiritual maturity, and the difficulties the church will face as we enter the end of the age. You can request to be Bryan’s friend and read more here.
Recently I was listening to Misty Edwards on the live feed singing about the love of the Jesus for us. It got me thinking, what does the love of Jesus look like? This a pretty basic question that many beyond count have tried to answer.
I think that the most common expression of Jesus’ love that my friends and I know is retreating into the love of Jesus. It is a wonderful thing to be able to retreat into the gentle mercy that Jesus showed to the woman caught in the midst of adultery, the prodigal son, and the woman with the alabaster jar. Over the last four years this is the type of love I have been learning—laying on the chest of Jesus. We must learn to cry, be angry, and pour out sins before the Father.
The Lord is building trust and confidence in our relationships with Him. I see a whole company of people learning and growing in the love of Jesus. As we do, we are beginning to grow and mature into adults. We have become very skilled at accepting people in their weakness with compassion and mercy. Jesus was fully able to show love beyond compassion and mercy. There are other forms of love that were hard parts of Jesus’ personality, His leadership and His ministry that we have failed to mature in. Let us to continue to grow in the love of Jesus until we look like Him.
1. Jesus was able to confront and correct others without a judgmental or religious spirit. Jesus exhorted Peter for hearing that He was the Christ. Then He rebuked Peter calling Him Satan because he had on his mind the things of man and not the things of God. Peter had enough trust with Jesus to know His heart—that He was not actually calling him Satan, but showing him he had his mind on the wrong thing. Until we can develop that level of trust with Jesus and each other we will not be able to walk in the ministry of confrontation which we need to keep each other out of deception. We will not be able to be one in Spirit and truth as Jesus wanted.
2. Jesus was able to walk in righteous zeal without crushing the weak and insecure. Jesus cleared the temple with a whip and displayed passion for His Father’s ways. I hear many preachers walk in zeal and make statements that in my weak faith really torque up my heart. Jesus could display zeal in such a way as to challenge the right people and protect the right people. Until we can do that the ministry of Jesus will be diminished in us, because the world will see the same old judgmental church it has always seen, and dismiss it.
3. Jesus was able to speak hard truths, offend the religious, and be okay with it. Jesus was unapologetic about the reality of Hell and the judgment to come. He spoke the truth because it was the highest form of love. Jesus also went out of His way to offend the religious. He provoked them by picking wheat and healing on the Sabbath. He pronounces woes on them, and He pronounced woes on those who didn’t except Him. We hide in fear behind God’s love and compassion because we don’t want to reject people. Until we can walk hand in hand with Jesus in this ministry the Gospel will not go forth in power as it meant to.
4. Jesus was able to father His disciples with a spirit of excellence and be okay when most people walked away when it was too hard. The parable of the soils had four different soils. When the seeds were thrown on the soils, three out of the four soils did not bear good fruit. When we are sent out into the harvest field we need to be okay with three fourths of the soils we sow into not bearing fruit. Jesus was okay with it. We give up because it is too hard, soured with bitterness because of failure. Until we are willing to labor without looking at the harvest as an entitlement we will not be able to face the harshness of the field. Jesus bought the whole field to get the jewel—we have to as well.
5. Jesus was able to suffer for His Father and not come out a wounded, emotional wreck. How was it that Jesus was able to bear the sins of the world and not need a psychologist and medication? How is it that Paul was able to endure stoning and lashes and rejoice? We are a spoiled and pampered people that need to feel good all the time. Until we are willing to lay down our pampered flesh we will not be able to labor in the fields for God’s harvest.
I would encourage us to look at all of the life of Jesus. There is so much more to the Christian walk than what we have. Jesus is the perfect reflection of the Father, so let us endeavor to grow up into all aspects of His personality. It is okay to retreat into the love of Jesus, we need it. Understand that it is a retreat, though, it is not a victory. If we are always retreating we will never win the battles we need to win. If we don’t move past retreating into the love of Jesus as a people we will never grow into adults in the Spirit. The hard parts of Jesus’ personality, His leadership and His ministry are all a part of the field. Let us finally purchase the whole field and be okay with it, it is well worth it.
Bryan will be visiting the blog throughout the day to answer any questions and respond to comments.