"..Yet in My Flesh I Will See GOD" [Job. 19.26]

Thursday, January 25, 2018

How Jesus Started Church 2

Image from iStock.
Here's Part 1

So Jesus went around preaching the Gospel to people and leaving them to make a decision on their own. He never encouraged or made it easy for people to believe his Gospel and follow him. He never visited people and checked if they were ready to believe in him. There were even times when he avoided crowds who were after him.

Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. [Mark 1]
I can't imagine pastors doing this today. Ignore a crowd that's after you? Pastors would give anything to keep that crowd. They'd sacrifice themselves just to have lots of people in their churches. But not Jesus. He seems to be saying, "You want to join me? Pursue me. If not, good bye!" That's why they couldn't kick out Jesus "from church." Lots of church people today can easily kick out their pastors.

Watch how Jesus seemed to discourage more people who wanted to follow him:

57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” [Luke 9]

Notice how he challenged them using a simple, short sentence? "Follow me." As simple as that. Again, it's take-it-or-leave-it kind of statement. Pastors today would try their best to convince you to join them, but not Jesus. Then he tells you something not really encouraging. He says something about no decent board and lodging during their mission trips. You mean, you'd just sleep out in the open---in the streets or in the forests?

He even insulted another whose dad just died. Honestly, would you say that to someone whose father has just died? "Let the dead bury their own dead."  Try saying that in a funeral service and see what happens. We wouldn't dare do this today, not really because we care for the bereaved family but because we wouldn't want to offend people and lose them in our membership. But Jesus just did it. Didn't he care? Of course he did! We can't accuse Jesus of not caring. He is the Fountain of love and caring.

And he discouraged yet another from simply saying good bye to his family. Jesus didn't bar him from doing that. The guy was free to say good bye to his family anytime. But the problem was, Jesus wouldn't be there waiting for him to do that. Jesus would be on his way, keeping the Father's time table. The impression here is that, Jesus will not wait for you. You must desperately pursue him! And it's all up to you. We have to apply this in our ministry. We must operate exactly how our Master operated. We cannot do things our way.

I remember when Elijah walked past Elisha and threw his cloak on him. Then Elisha said he had to say good bye to his parents. Elijah simply said, "Go back. What did I do to you?" In other words, "You can stay with your family all your life if you want to. I'm not telling you to do anything. It's all up to you! All I did was to invite you, per chance, if you want to come along. If not, then it's okay! I won't ask you again." You see that element of disinterest? You love the guy, you care for him, you know God wants him in, and yet you show disinterest. It's important.

Disinterest means you shall by no means influence or intervene with a person's decision for God or to join your ministry. It's a hands-off policy very important in the Kingdom. Unless you learn this, you'd always ran after people and be held hostage by them in the end. You'd become their slave. Let them run after God, and if Godwilling, run after you, too.

Jesus was never concerned about ministry growth. You see the urge in him, the urge to preach the Gospel to all people (you see the same in his apostles) but he never even once was concerned about quantity---about the how many.  Today, that's the first thing pastors want to know---how many can be members of his church. How much was the offering? It's okay to ask these things IF you're not too concerned about them---if they don't affect your mood. But most pastors would be sad with few people and few income. Some even become irritable. Yup, I see it happen.

Jesus had only one concern: "Who do people say that I am?" he asked the disciples once. In the heart of God, what's important is how well we know Jesus. Only Jesus counts. Even if you gather millions of people and turn them into church members, if they don't know Jesus as they ought to know him (or if they aren't interested in him, not fond of studying the bible seriously but just want to sing and play musical instrument and be seen performing on stage like their favorite pop or rock artists), then you have nothing. Worship is good, but worship without a solid WORD base is nothing. Empty.

In his question, you notice the words I am. To Jews, I am referred only to God, to Yahweh, the God who did terrible wonders in the Old Testament. When Jesus asked, "Who do people say that I AM?" he wanted to know if people knew him to be the Messiah, the Son of the living God. If you're starting a church, your only goal should be to share Jesus to people and help them know him deeply. Really fall in love with him and his Word. Never mind if they don't join your ministry at all or transfer church later. That's immaterial, although that's pastors' priority today.

Me? I don't care if only a few stay with me as my disciples or if all of them leave. I'm way past that.

When Peter stood up and positively declared Jesus as "the Christ, the Son of the living God," Jesus was so happy because such things are not and cannot be revealed by men but only by the Father. In Jesus' heart is a glorious church whose members get fresh and direct revelation from the Father of who Jesus is. That's the church we should build with him.

Jesus went around looking for his family, his mothers and brothers and sisters. He didn't form an organization or corporation recognized by the government with directors, chairmen, presidents and superintendents. That's why we're brothers and sisters in Christ (not co-employees or stockholders) and we have spiritual fathers in faith, as Paul was to Timothy and Titus.

Jesus looked for folks who would be comfortable with him, his lifestyle, his mindset and his culture. Only a "select" few who'd really go all-out with him and for him. "Select few" didn't really mean he just wanted a few people but it meant not all can join him but only those who prefer the narrow door and road. Many will try but they will eventually transfer to the broad highway to perdition. They'll just settle for church programs and activities and "ministries" that serve only to promote themselves, not the Kingdom of God.

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