Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rider Down, But OK UPDATE

"Double D" Had a doctor's appointment this week and he is healing well. He is now able to bend his knee some, although he is still not able to stand or put weight on it. The doctor is still saying that he will be in recovery for another 8 weeks, but "Double D" is praying that God will heal him more quickly and prove the doctor wrong. "Double D" would like to thank all of his brothers and sisters who have visited, helped, and prayed for him during this time, and asks that you continue to pray for his recovery .

FedEx,
President,
Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Developing True Community (Part 4)

Part 4
Interacting Like Jesus

In our previous discussion, we talked about how God sees people in general. This is a little different from what God sees when He looks at a believer, or someone who is IN CHRIST,  but it is important to start here, as God's mission starts when we are still His enemies (Rom 5:10). Now, God's mission does not end with us simply being no longer His enemies, but rather its goal is the complete restoration of relationship. So as we move deeper into this discussion of community we will need to look at our identity IN CHRIST, but for now, lets look at How Christ demonstrated God's view of people who were not yet in relationship with God.

Nicodemus

So here is this religious leader, someone who was raised knowing the answers to how to get right with God, at least that's what he thought. Obviously, Nicodemus did not have all the answers, because he comes to talk to Jesus at night in secret. Even before Nicodemus has the chance to ask his question, Jesus gets right to the point and Nicodemus has to admit that he really does not understand at all.

We can see from other interactions with the Pharisees that Jesus did not agree with their teaching and here is one of them, a teacher of the law who has led God's chosen people away from relationship instead of towards it. Here is the interesting thing though, Jesus didn't blast Nicodemus for teaching a false way to get right with God; He instead opens up for Nicodemus the true Gospel message. It is as if Jesus is saying "you are a teacher of religion, but you really don't even understand what it is that you are teaching, here let me show you the true heart of God".

The Samaritan Woman

The interaction between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well is probably one of the best glimpses into what God sees when He looks at messed up people. Jesus encounters a second class citizen of second class citizens, a woman whose life reflects one failed relationship after another, and person who has no hope of ever living a fulfilled life.

Now Jesus addresses her life, but not like religious people expect Him to. He doesn't tell this woman to repent of living with a man outside of marriage, or of having been divorced multiple times. Again, Jesus addresses the very core of the issue; He tells her that if she "drinks of His water" she would never thirst again. So what is this about? Think of it like this, Jesus says to her "I see you life, and your thirsty, thirsty for fulfilling relationship, I am offering you the one thing that you most desperately want, true, fulfilling relationship". Jesus does not judge her for trying to fulfill her God given need for relationship; instead He points her to the only true source of fulfillment and reveals once again the true heart of God.

Conclusion

In the interest of brevity, we will not address any of the many other interactions of Jesus with messed up people, but I have chosen these two with good reason.  You see Jesus dealing with a religious leader, one who guarded zealously God's own law, and a woman who had spent her life failing to keep God's law. They represent both ends of the spiritual spectrum. The pattern of Jesus interaction though was not very different,  in fact, you see the pattern repeated in so many of His interactions with the disciples, the rich young ruler, the woman caught in adultery, Levi, Simon, Mary, Martha, and scores of others.

Jesus chose not to judge or to condemn, even though, as God, He had an absolute right to judge a false teacher or a woman who lived an adulterous life. He chose instead to address the real issue; both the Pharisee and the Adulterer were trying to fill the God shaped hole in their lives with something other than relationship with God. Jesus pointed out the futility of their own attempts at fulfillment and pointed them toward the true source of true fulfillment. This is the very heart of God, the ministry of reconciliation that we are told of in 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 being lived out by God's very first Minister of reconciliation. The second part of that passage is that we have also been given that ministry.

FedEx,
President,
Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Developing True Community (Part 3)

Part 3
"God" Colored Goggles

We ended our last discussion with the idea of seeing people the way that God sees them. So what exactly does that mean, well lets go back to our goggle illustration. Just as allowing our lives to be shaped by external or internal expectations tints the rest of our world with those "expectation goggles", when we allow our lives to be shaped by the truth of God's perspective, this perspective begins to affect the way we view others. So in gaining a better understanding of what God sees when he looks  at us, we begin to replace the "expectation" tinted lenses with a set of "God" tinted lenses.

So with this principle in mind, lets look at some verses that give us a glimpse of God's perspective.

In Genesis 1:27 we see that man was created to "in God's image". The idea here is a little more than just that of being similar to God in some aspect of our being. Man was created as a unique being, nothing like man had been seen in all creation to this point, and the specific God intended purpose of man's creation was to reveal some parts of His being that had not yet been revealed in all of the rest of the creation. In fact, while all the rest of creation was declared to be "good" by God, only after the creation of man did God look at all that was made and declare it to be "very good".  So first of all, when God sees us, he sees His own unique creation and in that creation aspects of His being that are revealed nowhere else in the created universe.

Next, we see that God values us. In Mat 10:21, we hear directly from the mouth of Jesus that we are of more worth than other created beings. David echos this sentiment in Psalm 8, where he mixes the dominion of man over creation, with marvel for God even taking thought of man, and a foreshadowing of mankind ruling over all creation, including the angels, through the man Jesus Christ.  God values man because he has a purpose and a plan for man that is singularly unique among all the created beings, even spiritual beings.

When God looks at us, He sees a broken relationship that He would do anything to restore. We see from the very beginning of revelation, in Gen 1:26 a quote from God. "Let US make man in OUR own image". We see a God who exists in eternal perfect relationship within the trinity. Additionally, we see that one of the aspects of God that man was created to reflect was relationship. This was most clearly revealed through the creation of man and woman (Gen 2:24). As a result of the fall, the relationship of man with God and the reflection of God's relational nature was damaged. After all of this, we see that God chose to sacrifice His own Son to save His enemies (Rom 5:10), and why, because His business is fixing that broken relationship (2 Cor 5:18-20). 

Now, this is not an exhaustive list of what God sees when He looks at mankind. Nor does this list look at some aspects of what God sees that change when a person believes in Jesus Christ for their eternal destiny. But these are some very key things that we can see from the bible are true of all mankind. I would even argue that they are the very heart of God's being, His purpose for creating mankind, and His current mission of restoring a broken world.

In our next installment, we will explore how our example of living with "God goggles", Jesus Christ, interacted with people.

FedEx,
President,
Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry