You might have noticed that this year our church, Abbeville United Methodist Church, has a political sign in the front yard. Well, to be honest, the sign isn't really political. The sign says, "Jesus 2020."
Last Wednesday night John spoke about Matthew 28 which says, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." As I reflected on this "Great Commission" by Jesus (as He sends out the disciples and us, the Church) I reread the passage. It says, "Teaching them to obey everything I have commended you." I think that is pretty clear! So, in light of elections, our "Jesus 2020" sign and our predisposition to only read the commands we really like, I thought I would compile a short list of some of Jesus' commands. It is truly our responsibility if we call ourselves followers.
I have examined this list (please feel free to compile your own) and found some stark differences from some of the things that we might hear. I found lots about becoming and believing like little children. I found out that the greatest among us are to become servants. I found lots about following, forgiving, loving enemies, not judging ... and I marveled that none of these things are championed by those that are grabbing headlines or calling passion a primary virtue (after all, Judas was passionate about his politics). I found some good things about being "light" and we sure need that in this time of darkness.
The list I found (I will compile a list this week that includes everything) is so different from the aggressive, negative and zealous rhetoric I hear so often. During Jesus' life I remember that there were parties and factions. There were Pharisees, Sadducees and Priests. There was the very political Sanhedrin. Judas belonged to a party called "Zealots" and they were known for their passion and nationalism. Is any of this ringing a bell in your mind or calling to something deep in your heart? ALL, YES ALL, of these groups opposed Jesus! Judas sold out his friend Jesus! The Sanhedrin held an illegal trial and convicted Jesus of blasphemy! The Pharisees, Sadducees and Priests opposed Jesus both openly and privately! They didn't want Jesus for their leader! But in 2020 this doesn't matter. What does matter is ... do YOU want Jesus to be your leader? Will you ignore or will you put down your baser feelings and desires to take up your cross and follow Him? Here's what Matthew 16:24-26 commands ... "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?"
If you want revival ... if you desire to become a follower ... if you want to do it Jesus' way ... if you really believe the Great Commission ... if you are down with God's self-proclaimed method of becoming people of God's purpose ... then Jesus says, "teach them to obey all the things I commanded you!" I'll have a printed list of those Sunday ... then let's sift our politics, our passions, our rhetoric and ourselves through what Jesus commanded. I, for one, come up way short when I do this ... but it is what He said, so that's my goal! How about you!? Randy