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.
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.
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.
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