Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Jesus at the Heart

Calling…it’s something we all question and want to know. I know that in the 28 years that I’ve known Jesus, I’ve questioned my calling a thousand times or more. The simple answer is: our calling is Jesus Christ—to live by Him, in Him and for Him. So what does that mean?
That’s where my specific calling as Minister of Word and Sacrament comes in. It is my calling to peach Christ and Christ crucified.
In our Revelation Bible study, we’ve been looking at heavenly worship. The sole focus of heavenly worship is Jesus. Everything revolves around and reflects Him, including the faces of the angels. In heaven, there is no more “me”. Everyone and everything is focused on Christ. The elders cast their crowns at His feet. The songs are all in praise of and to Him. Our study asked us how we might make our earthly worship more heavenly. With Jesus at the center of our worship, we can’t go wrong. When I graduated from seminary, our baccalaureate speaker was the Rev. John Wood, who admonished us to make sure that every sermon has something of Jesus in it. And every service should have in it somewhere something that says, “This is the Father. This is the Son. Here is the Holy Spirit. This is the relationship that God wants to have with you.”
There is an unfortunate trend today which promotes a “Christless Christianity.” We become so focused on the next best thing, the newest, hottest programs, desiring to be welcoming, and not wanting to offend that we present a Jesus that is too safe. We want Jesus to be our friend, but forget that He is our Savior. Jim and I went to a lecture a few weeks ago on this very topic. Jesus becomes an add-on instead of our Redeemer. We end up hearing sermons that except for the mention of Jesus name, we could hear at any self-help seminar or humanitarian gathering. It is reflected in our hymnbook, where almost all references to the blood of Jesus have been taken out. It is a theology of glory—bigger and better, as opposed to a theology of the cross—self-denial and sacrifice in exchange for Christ and His life.
But the gospel is offensive. It has and always will be offensive to every human culture, although God has provided ways in every culture through which we can connect to the gospel. Jesus is called a “scandalon”—a Rock of Offense. The blood of Jesus is offensive because it means our sins are worthy of death. The theology of the cross challenges our self-seeking. The cross means we have to die. We don’t want to admit we are that bad and that bad off. The human heart resists that God’s mercy at the cross is also God’s judgment on sin and religion (in the sense of humans trying to get to God versus God coming down to us).
But if we come to the Stumbling Stone and accept the gift that Jesus offers, we realize that the gospel is tremendous news. We don’t have to “do more and try harder.” Instead, we can rejoice, “Look what God has done!”
This is what I strive to say week by week. I know there are weeks when I fail miserably and am aware that I will have to give an account to God for what I preach and teach. But when we can say, “Look what God has done,” we are swept away into God’s new world. Salvation is the transference from one kingdom (the kingdom of the world) into another one (the kingdom of God). Corporate worship is an opportunity for us to realize in which kingdom we truly live and leave the world behind, at least for an hour or so. I hope that as Grace Presbyterian Church we can find more ways to celebrate how God is transforming us.
Jesus is relevant to our lives everyday. In fact, He’s MORE than that. Jesus is the source of our ability to live lives that are pleasing to God. Jesus is the source of our life! Christ is our Transformer—often this occurs bit by bit more than huge dramatic changes, although He does that too. My job is to lead you to a deep intimacy with the Trinity—to introduce you to God and help God to become real to you. My focus is on discipleship, Christian education. Jesus called us to make disciples. Discipleship is hard work. It costs us. Not everyone wants to be a disciple. That’s between God and individuals, but my primary concern is with those who do, whether they are just coming to know Jesus or have been walking with Him for decades.
On the other hand, I was not called to the entertainment business. Nor am I called to use the pulpit for self-promotion. The apostle Paul wrote in II Cor. 4:5, “For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus Christ.”
May God forgive me if I make Jesus boring, for He most certainly is not!


Anonymous Angela Premoe said...

Amen and amen!

February 27, 2010 at 5:02 PM


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