This isn’t a very complicated post. I did this exercise with our small group this past Spring. Before we talked about love, I wanted to make sure they knew how Jesus loved them. And the best way to see how Jesus feels about you is to look at the way he talked and acted around people in the Bible. It might feel a little weird, but you can look at how Jesus treated people and you have a really, really good idea about how he would treat you. So here’s what Jesus does in the Gospel of Mark for and to other people:
– He honors the people who paved a path for him. He gives them credit. (John)
– He announces truth.
– He invites people to follow him.
– He does not go after the smartest or the most well positioned or the savviest investors. He finds fishermen. He picks people that are not at all suited to be followers of a rabbi and asks them to be a part of his plan. They are hand picked. On purpose. Not by accident.
– He teaches with authority.
– He heals. A lot. But he heals in really different ways. Sometimes a person touches his cloak. Sometimes friends carve holes in a roof and he rewards their faith. Sometimes he takes pity on beggars. But every time he wants to help the weak, the sick, and the lost.
– He goes off and takes time to pray.
– He actually puts his hands on someone who, in that time period, was a complete social pariah. He reaches down and touches him, even though other people would not want to be in the same room or even the same city.
– He forgives (even though in every situation he’s the chief offended)
– He eats with sinners and tax collectors (Read: outcasts)
– He doesn’t let righteous snobs talk down to those outcasts. In fact, these are the people he calls out the most.
– He claims to be bringing a different life to the table. He is not an old wineskin. He’s the new one, meant to hold the good wine (life and life to the full)
– He trusts his work to followers. He appoints people. He delegates. He invites us into his strategies and plans.
– He doesn’t ask us to be slaves. He invites us to be family. We are sons, daughters.
– He teaches people what he’s all about. He tells stories. When his disciples don’t get it, he explains. A lot
– He calms storms. He helps people in distress.
– He frees people from their chains. He doesn’t shy away from intimidating outcasts (Legion)
– He rewards people’s faith in him. He seeks places where healing is needed. If people ask him to come, he doesn’t complain about it.
– After equipping followers, he entrusts them to go out. He puts his faith in them to complete a mission.
– He feels compassion for the hungry and the broken and the lost. He feeds them with what he has.
– He does the impossible. He invites others to join him in doing the impossible. He’s not harsh when they fall short.
– He doesn’t put up with hypocrisy. In fact, he can’t stand it.
– He encourages his followers to put themselves last. He tells them to be servants. He leads by example.
The crazy part? This all happens in the first eight chapters of Mark’s Gospel. This list could be way longer, because the story of Jesus Christ is absolutely full of love. He cares about people. Now take all of the things above, and just apply them to you. He would do all of that for you. He offers all of that to you. Three reasons I posted this:
1. To encourage folks to read it for themselves. Something happens when you read about Jesus. He’s a different kind of dude. He speaks a certain way. Acts a certain way. I dare you to read one of the Gospels and see how you feel about him.
2. To friends and family that aren’t Christians or aren’t sure or maybe you just sort of prefer to set this kind of stuff off to the side and not think about… It’s worth a look. The cool thing about Jesus is he offers an invitation to a relationship. Can you imagine a relationship with all the things above? It’s crazy that it’s even a thing that exists, let alone a thing we’re offered.
3. To friends and family who are Christians, are we good representatives of this list? If not, where do we start? Maybe we pick one thing. He rewards people’s faith in him. So what if, when people put their faith in us, we follow through. We reward them. We honor them. For a day. And then two days. And then twenty. What if we spend enough time with Jesus, that we really start to act like him? Maybe we pick up on his habit of equipping his followers. Maybe we borrow that little part where he doesn’t shy away from people that make others uncomfortable. Maybe we dive into forgiveness headfirst, because usually we only forgive the people we like. I don’t know. When I finish this post, I’ll probably look back through the list and pick something. I think I’ll enjoy life a little more as I work on whatever that something is.
I watched a documentary yesterday. The featured chef talked about, with great, evocative sadness, a void. He said, “Isn’t our life just an attempt to fill one void after another?” He was specifically referring to the loss of his mother at a very young age. But really, he hit on an unavoidable, human truth. There’s something off. There’s something missing. I’ve always been enchanted by the way C.S. Lewis put it, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so… I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others do the same.”
I have to imagine that picking up the things on the list above, that putting on our funny outfits and trying to do some of what Jesus did, is a great way to press on to that true country. Thanks for reading!