Dismissing Jesus (Only Following Him To Certain Places)
I’m convinced that God has given each of us unique areas of His Kingdom to tend to. It fits in with the pattern of understanding the different callings Paul teaches in Ephesians 4.
With that being said, I’m also becoming more firmly convinced that believers tend to be dismissive of all the unique ways that Jesus can come alive in us. Though I have no statistical information to back this up, experience is showing me that believers tend to banish many aspects of Jesus in order to embrace only a few characteristics.
Check out this highly charged announcement Jesus made: "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14 ESV).
Jesus hammers this point home first by accentuating that a vital truth is about to be spoken. Then, he repeats the assurance that we have great authority in His Name. Even as we return to the context in which these words are given, there can be no equivocating their meaning.
Now, truly, truly, I say unto you; there are no limits to the number of believers who will counsel you that you “ought” to be doing what they are doing in the Name of Jesus. Close examination will tell you that this person is likely dismissing parts of Jesus’ actions in order to prioritize their particular gifting.
I would posit that not only is it an imperative for us to feed the hungry, but we must also be willing to lay hands on them and pray for miraculous healing. And vice versa.
Not only should we pay attention to the plight of the outsider and the abused, but we should also call them to follow Jesus. And vice versa.
But please don’t take my word for it (as if I’m masterful at the art of persuasion!). In fact, don’t take the word of someone telling you how to view the poor, the immigrant, or the supernatural. Instead, visit the words of Jesus often. We find them faithfully and carefully contained in the New Testament, and dutifully and accurately conveyed primarily in the first four books (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).
Many years ago, I felt the spirit urging me to look over all the recorded words of Jesus. Whenever I found him specifically asking His followers to do something, I took note of it. I then asked the question, “Did he really mean that?” If the answer was, “Yes, why, I do believe He meant that,” then I added it to what I called my “to-do” list. This process can be as simple or complicated as you wish to make it. I just went for the obvious things.
In teaching this method to others, I would occasionally run across the person who would tell me that I should never teach someone to do something. They would accuse me of legalism. Here’s the problem with that.
I would never suggest that we create a litmus test for getting into Heaven. That is, clearly, by faith alone. What I would suggest is that the cry of “legalism” doesn’t pass the stink test. I include that important step of asking whether or not Jesus meant it when He told his followers to do it, leaving us all with the option to opt-out. This is not a to-do list to get us into Heaven (that is a revolting thought), it’s a list of things we do because we are children of Heaven who follow Jesus.
This process will lead us to form a life view that we can rely on. Make note of what Jesus said, what He did, and do it. Don’t be guilted by anyone to tend sheep. Instead, follow the trustworthy words of Jesus.
One final note. Clearly, we need good, sound teaching in all areas of this wonderful Heaven-life. However, let us be resolved to not be merely specialists in one area of ministering Jesus to the world. Let us, instead, be fully formed and informed believers who move in our full authority to bring grace and wellness to a hurting world.