Be the Change

The world changed completely with the arrival of Jesus, and ultimately will end with Jesus too. But the real question is, what lies between those two points? In order for positive change to happen now, shouldn’t we first make sure we have been changed ourselves?

The fact is, we can’t bring positive change to the world if we ourselves have not first been changed. There’s a popular saying: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” To us, that means being like Jesus. Throughout Scripture we see that we are called to be like Jesus, we are called to be the difference, and that will make the world look a little bit more like Him. As Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Until Jesus returns with a major disruption in every day life, we are called to “be the change.”

Our world often relies on a sense of comfort and stability; change is the last thing most people want to think about. Research shows millions fear change. It even has a name – neophobia, or the fear of new things. Yes, it’s a real phobia, and yes, it says a lot about human nature. But the danger is that when we cave to our fears and avoid change, we get so comfortable where we are that we ignore the very new things God has initiated to get us where we are heading in life. Sure, we can all dream of things we would like to change about the world, about ourselves, but we are scared to be the ones to step out and do it – be it. When the excuses, “I’m not ready for that” or “I’m just not called to do that” come out of our mouths, that could be a sign of neophobia.

It has been said, “Partial obedience is disobedience.” And I believe that to be true. If we are truly living like Jesus, then why are we still doing ‘that’ (insert sin here)? Why are we refusing to change our ways, when change is what we need most? We cannot go about our lives half-hearting our walk with God, in hopes that He will give us a full-heart transformation. Since we don’t automatically have a nature like Jesus’, and constantly have to deal with our human failings, we must accept that to be more like Him, we will have to change. 

What does it even mean to live like Jesus? The phrase “live like Jesus” means so many things, and if we put it into practice, it will cause a change in us of immeasurable depth. Yet so many of us are running around like a chicken with its head cut off, only hoping we are living like Him.

C.S. Lewis had this to say: “To trust Him means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus is you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing those things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.”

God never intended us to remain the same, but instead to remain faithful – to take His advice. For in remaining faithful, we will not remain the same. 

There is incredible hope in this. You can be different than you were. You can break the mold of your family’s past. You can be different from what everyone else has labeled you. You are made in God’s image, for His will. And no human opinion can get in the way of a God-given destination. 

Stop listening to the foolish lies of this world, and start appreciating and accepting the truth of God’s Word and the freedom that comes with it. I am sure you have encountered flaws, failures, and mistakes in your life. But that doesn’t mean you have to put up with them, or that you have to stay that way. They don’t need to define you. In fact, if you consider yourself a follower of Jesus Christ, you are called to overcome these very things. This does not mean you will find perfection, but you will undoubtedly find progression on the path of righteousness. 

Just because it’s how you grew up, doesn’t mean it’s how you should stay. With Christ comes renewal and a new way of living.

Scripture confirms this hope:

Ezekiel 36:26 “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.”

Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

  

Eight Differences Between a Believer and a Follower

1> A believer believes in Jesus. A follower honours His commands

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” (James 2:19 NIV)

2> A believer reads the Bible when things get tough. A follower reads the Bible to engage in a deeper understanding of Jesus Himself.

“Look to the LORD and His strength; seek His face always.” (Psalm 105:4 NIV)

3> A believer prays when things get tough. A follower gives thanks no matter the circumstance.

“Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:20 NIV)

4> A believer twists the Bible to fit his or her lifestyle. A follower works to make his or her lifestyle resemble the teachings of the Bible.

“Some of His comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction.” (2 Peter 3:16)

5> A believer gives when it is easy. A follower gives out of the abundance of his or her heart.

“They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, our in everything – all she had to live on.” (Matthew 12:22 NIV)

6> A believer conforms under the pressure or culture. A follower holds fast against temptation.

“Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:13 ESV)

7> A believer will share his or her faith when it’s comfortable. A follower will share his or her faith regardless of the scenario.

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15 ESV)

8> A believer knows about Jesus. A follower knows Jesus as his or her Lord and Saviour.

“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9 ESV)

Which are you? A believer or a follower?.

Religious People Suck!

I feel for religious people. They have all the rules to follow with no benefit gained from their obedience and faithfulness. The height of being religious is seen in the Pharisees. I mean, whenever they get brought up I immediately think, “Great. What arrogant nonsense are they sprouting now?” No Joke: most of these guys were the epitome of self-righteous religious imposters sucking life out of people who were truly hungry for God.

The Pharisees were known as the religious elite, the top dogs, and the high-and-mighty of faith. And although these nicknames sound incredibly awesome, the men who were behind them weren’t all too savvy when it came to actually knowing their heavenly Father, Pharisees were known to be righteous and zealous for keeping the law. But their observance and protection of the law was filled with arrogance and hypocrisy. They were prideful and stingy with grace. Judgment was easy for these guys, but refusing to show grace or give second chances was their demise.

In Matthew 23, you will find Jesus teaching to the crowds and to His disciples about the problems of hypocrisy. He claimed that although the words of the Pharisees may have been wise, their actions did not match what they preached. He continued by describing what most religious people, including religious Christians, face in today’s generation: ‘Everything they do is for show’ (Matthew 23:5).

Jesus was publicly calling out the Pharisees for being religious show-offs who were looking to gain nothing but personal acknowledgment for their actions. They were using their faith and knowledge of the Scriptures as a catalyst for personal popularity. They loved the idea of being extremely religious, but failed to convert that into passion for God Himself.

Not only did the actions of the Pharisees hurt their own opportunity for salvation, but their ways of living gave a false reflection of what it actually meant to be a follow of God. The constant judgment and religious entanglement they repeatedly subjected people to was theologically unjustifiable. 

Listen to what Jesus said about these religious people…

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you won’t let others enter either (Matthew 23:13).

The Pharisees spent so much time focusing on their outer appearance that they failed to allow the inner transformation to take place. You know, the one thing that actually mattered. It would be similar to someone who buys an old car from the junkyard, completely restores both the interior and exterior, and then doesn’t put any money into fixing the car’s engine. It may look spectacular, but it’s not going anywhere. Likewise, we seem to have convinced ourselves that if the outer image looks grand enough, then no one will bother asking about what’s actually under the hood.

When we find ourselves being complimented on the outer appearance long enough, it’s easy to forget about fixing what’s inside. As you can imagine, this is a hindrance to many people who are trying to find true transformation in Christ Himself.

Since the Pharisees found themselves in the spotlight of religious appreciation, it’s no surprise that their elegant speech and impressive knowledge of the law kept them comfortable and unwilling to push further in their spiritual journey.

Do you want to know how to live a great gospel-centered life? Just do the exact opposite of everything the Pharisees did. The Pharisees were more focused on impressing each other with spiritual knowledge than actually following the commandments of God, showing grace, or lending a selfless hand. We have to make an effort to walk that talk.

The Pharisees – Prayed in public for recognition

True followers of Christ – Pray in public because they are unashamed

The Pharisees – Read God’s Word for head knowledge 

True followers of Christ – Read God’s Word to deepen their relationship with God

The Pharisees – Judged people for the sake of judgment

True followers of Christ – Lovingly correct people because they care

So, as you can see – religious people suck! And, it is regretful how many people who called themselves believers – even Christians – are really nothing more than religious people who look good but are inwardly lifeless. Such a pointless existence … believing that things are good only to one day, discover that although they knew the Word of God they did not know God. And thus missed spending eternity with Him in heaven.

And you … what about you? Whee do you fit in to this picture?

Four Things God’s Love Won’t Hold Against You

Do you ever question whether or not you are good enough to be a Christian, or holy enough to be loved by God? Well, here are four things God’s love won’t hold against you.

1> Your Past

Relax. You have already been forgiven. When it comes to a relationship with Jesus, don’t ever expect to run into resentment for Christ Himself. The future looks brings for all those willing to walk in the light of His presence. Jesus will forgive you all of your past, even if you have yet to forgive yourself.

Romans 6:6 ESV “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”

2> Your Mistakes

We’ve all made mistakes, but the beauty of the cross is that Jesus died for them. Your sins have been wiped clean, and your heart has been renewed by the grace of Jesus Himself. Your mistakes do not define you. Your failures don’t have to haunt you. Your mishaps don’t need to be accounted for. God forgives you for your mistakes, even if you have yet to forgive yourself.

Mark 3:28 ESV “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter…”

3> Your Confusion

It’s okay to be hurt, confused, and question what taking place. God understands everything you are going through, even if you do not. He can take the punches, if you will take the time to seek His guidance. The reality of your confusion may be due to a lack of biblical knowledge or spiritual guidance. Confusion comes and goes, but the love of God is eternal and constant.

Proverbs 2:6 NIV “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

4> Your Addictions

Everyone is addicted to something. No matter if your struggle is drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, or whatever. Your addictions will not keep the relentless love of Jesus from embracing you. Take a deep breath and find peace in knowing that you are not alone or ignored.

Romans 5:20 ESV “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more…”

There you have it. Four things God’s love will never hold against you. Embrace His love and experience freedom and peace of heart and mind.

The Word “Christian”

It’s sad to sit back back and watch the media cover nothing but the faults and failures of proclaimed “Christ-followers,” instead of getting down to the truth of what 98 percent of us do differently than the 2 percent who make us look bad. If the negativity that the media portrays is in fact the world’s view of what it means to be a Christian, please don’t call me one. I’d rather call myself a Christ-follower than be thrown into the twisted view of what we’ve made “Christians” out to be. I understand that Christian actually means Christ-follower, but you get where I am going with this I am sure.

The word ‘Christian’ has become too common over the years. Not for the sake of spreading the good news of Jesus, like we’d hoped for, but instead that of comfort and ease. People say “I’m a Christian” as easily as they would “I like hamburgers.”

For many reasons, the word Christian has stopped being associated with the word “love.” It’s stopped being associated with “grace.” This isn’t a matter of theology, doctrine, or philosophy, but instead of the actions people take – or don’t take – in the name of Christ. Jesus called us to love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34). Simple. This means we are to relentlessly, passionately, and fervently love one another just as He has loved us, no matter the circumstances. But does this really happen?

The ideology of “hate the sin, not the sinner” has not converted well into today’s culture. If you take a moment to look around, you’ll notice that we are very good at showing hate to the people whom God has called us to love. Regardless of what the Bible says about cursing, drinking, drunkenness, homosexuality, sex, cheating, lying, or stealing, we are still called to ‘love one another.’ It’s that simple. No questions asked, regardless of how you interpret Scriptures.

Does this frustrate anyone the way it frustrates me? And before you say anything about seeking to keep your brother or sister accountable, please remember that you and I both sin as much as the next person. The goal isn’t to look away when someone is struggling, but instead to engage and embrace people in a way that reflects the loving comfort of Christ. A way that shows the love of Jesus. A way that turns from anything to do with hate, rejection, and judgmentalism. Period.

So, we are to love without limits. You know, I can’t ever recall a person who came to know Jesus because of hate. And, I am certain you cannot argue someone into the Kingdom, either. Jesus clearly stated that the non-believers and skeptics would come to know that we are His disciples by the way that we love one another and most certainly they way we treat others who are not believers and thus do not yet share fellowship with us and with our Heavenly Father. 

As I have been thinking about this in the last few days I realized that there are four things that God’s love won’t hold against you…

1> Your past

2> Your mistakes

3> Your confusion

4> Your addictions

Let’s look at those next time we are together…

There Are No Part-Time Disciples 

If you claim to be a Christian, then the questions of “the meaning of life” is already solved and answered for you! The purpose of your life is to share the Gospel of the Kingdom and the redemptive qualities of Christ (Matthew 28:19). You ARE in the ministry. 

Galatians 2:20 reads, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” There is a vital truth to what this verse states. It is no longer YOU who lives, but Christ who lives IN you. Meaning, it’s no longer about your agenda, your desires, and your needs. If you call yourself a Christian your agenda is now filled with an all-consuming calling from Christ Himself.

So, your current situation and workplace are your personal mission field. Why? Because you can reach people a church can’t. You’re on the front lines! You might even have a better opportunity to reach people than a missionary or church professional does. Don’t let anyone tell you that full-time ministry can only be found within the confines of a church building. God is bigger than four walls and a steeple. 

God has put the people around you in your life for a reason. Find out what that reason is, and make it your mission to empower their lives with Christ. Jesus will always supply you with the necessary tools and weapons needed to conquer anything that comes in your path. 

Work at a grocery store? Perfect. You have the opportunity to share and reflect the love and servanthood of Christ to dozen of customers a day. Work for a restaurant? Awesome! Use your time at work to share your testimony with your coworkers, or even share a reflection of Jesus’ kindness to each person who walks through your doors. If you really look, there are endless possibilities for anyone who is looking to be a full-time disciple of Jesus Christ.

Your job title doesn’t matter, but the way you use your time does. Stop letting people tell you that working for the government or for your company isn’t God’s plan for you. Stop allowing the opinions of man to keep you from being a light to your current workplace (Matthew 5:14). Just because you may not have a seminary degree and a position serving in a local congregation doesn’t mean you’re not in full-time ministry.

Jesus Himself wasn’t paid by a church. He was a carpenter who used His everyday knowledge of work and carpentry to relate to the people He was surrounded by. Yes, men like Paul and Peter dropped everything to follow the plans of Jesus, but don’t forget about the thousands of other people who stayed where they were in order to be a light where it was needed.

The New Testament couple Priscilla and Aquila are perfect examples of this. Acts 18:2-3 tells us:

“And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade.”

We see that both Priscilla and Aquila were tent makers who helped Paul on his apostolic journey by allowing him to live and work with them in order to provide for himself. Their regular work flowed seamlessly into their ministry – a ministry that happened to help during one of the most critical points in Christian history. Tent makers, Yes! But, history makers as well!

So, step out and start vocalizing what God has put on your heart. If you’re not willing to do it where you are, what makes you think you would do it somewhere else?

This ideology of every Christian embracing a lifestyle of full-time ministry has the potential to transform the world from the inside out. It’s a possibility that could truly reach the far ends of the world for the sake of the Gospel. Imagine if everyday people, working everyday jobs, meeting everyday customers, all shared the extraordinary salvation given through Jesus Christ. The potential is limitless.

In order to embrace the fullness of what Jesus is calling us to, embrace the mission of using every moment available to share your faith in Christ. There are no limitations on where God can work.

So, know this: Jesus is not hiring part-time disciples. While this may discourage you in the beginning, I would encourage you to allow it to fuel your purpose in life. Stop, take a deep breath, and make today the day you start using every avenue available in every place, no matter how mundane, as a way to share the hope, grace, and salvation of Jesus Christ. Trust me, it’s worth every moment. 

So, You Don’t Fit! Then, Stand Out!!

There are many times that I feel like I just don’t fit. Like I am marching to the beat of a different drummer than every one else. Like my values, morals, and world perspective simply don’t jive with the people I live among. In other words, I am different. I simply don’t like what others like, watch what others watch, do what others do…

I have done a lot of thinking about this over the years. And, I have come to understand that realizing you don’t fit in is a good thing. You and I were not made to fit in. We were made to fulfill our calling in Christ. We were made to fit out not fit in. To stand out. You know, like a city on a hill (Matthew 5:14). To go against the grain. And to not only bring change to the community and relationships but to be the change for a world that lacks hope.

Since Jesus laid down His life for me, the least I can do is stand up and stand out for Him. The same is true for you if you are a true believer and disciple of Jesus. In today’s worth-seeking world, being liked and wanted is something we all yearn for. And regardless of whether it comes naturally, it’s how our culture forces us to feel – even by advertising popularity.

The world says:

Failure is not an option (I believe it originated with NASA)

If you are not first, you’re last (from a Sony picture 2006)

If you’re not somebody, you are nobody (popular saying)

But when we begin to look into the depth of Scripture, we’ll realize that none of those things are actually true. Literally, none of them.

Where NASA says, “Failure is not an option,” Scripture starts, “For everyone has sinned (failed); we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23)

Where Ricky Bobby in the movie, “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” says, If you are not first, you’re last,” Jesus says, “So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last” (Matthew 20:16)

For everyone that tells you, “If you’re not somebody, you are nobody,” the Bible’s clear answer is: “God does not show favouritism” (Romans 2:11) Everyone is a somebody.

God has called us to go against the grain. To be the salt. To be the city on the hill. To be the light of the world.

Some of us walk, talk, read, and tweet like the most spiritual people ever to inhabit the earth. But behind the plastic mask we call “Christianity” is often merely personal modification rather than actual heart transformation. We seek more width than actual depth, and this show can only go on for so long.

Before you were born, you were called to be different. You were given potential for being a world changer. To walk so differently than the world that others will notice. And although being different might sometimes look lonely or unpopular, you must come to see that no matter the circumstances, God is still with you. Why on earth would we continue to cheat ourselves out of God’s love, and try to fill the void with worldly acceptance?

So, I’ve come to understand that my purpose on this earth isn’t to be loved and cherished by everyone around me. My purpose is to share the love of Jesus, show relentless grace, and always be willing to help my neighbour. Surprisingly enough, not everyone likes that. 

If you want to fully embrace the life that Jesus offers, be willing to ignore the opinions of man while you engage in the righteous pursuit of Christ. This will mean discussing touchy subjects. This means not ignoring the truth that most others seems to miss in the situation. It means purposely talk about the tough stuff in order to bring light to a situation that might be drowning in fear and darkness. It will mean swimming upstream while everyone else is floating downstream. However, remember that dead fish float downstream.

If we hide behind smooth words and shallow theology, we are indirectly telling God we are not bold enough to speak the truth. But, as I said earlier, “Since Jesus laid down His life for me, the least I can do is stand up and stand out for Him.”

So, a final question: Do you represent Jesus in a way that reflects timidity, or are you speaking the truth boldly and in love, unshaken by the opinions of others?

It is time to evaluate your life as a believer; your speech, your conduct, your lifestyle. There is no neutrality in the eyes of Jesus. You and I are required to pick a side, no exception. 

The Individual

Guest Blogger – Bill Lewis, apostle and teacher

People, precious people. Individuals, humans, all shapes and sizes, various races, multiple cultures, habits, traditions, all these stirred into one earth. Basically, it is the individual. It is the one soul, one spirit, one body that makes a human being. This human being is birthed, grows an awareness of self and family. The awareness continues to expand to the society that forms their culture. Later the awareness may expand to recognize and appreciate other cultures and individuals of various ethnicities.

The individual becomes aware of life and its progress. Early the individual learns that they will grow, mature, and at some point, die. Some recognize their mortality early. Some do not pay attention to it at all. It is lingering there, but they refuse to look at it. Some just give up and take it as a fact, but one that needs no attention.

The statement of John, the apostle, sets an interesting thrust of intervention. “For God so loved the world…” Into this awareness of mortality, a hope was given. It speaks of a creator. There is a God. This God loves humanity. He loves the individual. It is personal and it is the collective world. He loves His creation and particularly each individual.

When men govern, they do so collectively. They do not know each person in their constituency. It is purely collective. They can love the idea of everyone, but they do not know everyone. But God knows the individual. He knows the number of hairs on their head. He cares for each and can communicate love to each. He can speak to each, not collectively, but personally to that individual heart and mind. Each individual can respond to that love and communication. Sometimes it is so personal that it seems no one else matters; yet He can do that with everyone at the same time.

John, the apostle, again writing the things that God shows him in the Revelation, reports that all of us have been created for the pleasure of God. Individually, we are to bring pleasure to our creator. The Westminster Confession states that the sole purpose of man is glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

While human history marches along, God has a divine plan that is unfolding as well. Whatever man does, it will move toward God’s ultimate intention. On the macro scale, God is preparing a kingdom to rule and serve man without death. On the micro scale, each individual is important to Him that each enjoy eternity with Him.

From the hovel to the palace, God loves the individual. Each person is important. God has made provision that the awareness of mortality can be changed to the joy of immortality. The inevitable, fatalistic doom of death is changed into the glorious hope and the internal guarantee of life forever with our creator.

This hope is accomplished by God through Jesus. God made it possible for mortals to become immortals through Jesus’, death and resurrection.  The story of this amazing love and sacrifice is staggering in its sheer genius. It covers stealthily ever facet of dealing with eternal requisites and blindsides the enemy of mankind while defeating sin and death. The story is known as the gospel, the good news. Individuals who listen and believe, live forever.

Asian, African, European, it does not matter what part of the globe you live on. The individual counts. Cultures, traditions, habits, make no difference to Him. He loves each and is seeking each person. That one body, one soul, one spirit is important.

You count! You are important. Your awareness should grow to being aware of eternity and the necessity to do something about it. You are so important that Jesus made provision for you to live eternally with him!

Think about it, you, among billions is known as an individual by your creator and you really count, stand out, are worthy of individual attention, and loved,

Hate the Sin, Not the Sinner! WRONG!!

“Hate the sin, not the sinner” isn’t working. Honestly, I am not sure it ever did work. When hating the sins of others, people just simply don’t know how to separate the sinner from the sin. Let me encourage you to instead “Love the sinner, not the sin.”

Remove the word “hate” from your vocabulary, and start reflecting an image of Jesus that portrays Him differently than a man standing on a soapbox wielding a megaphone. I can’t ever recall a person who came to faith because of hate. Let’s start a movement of people who are willing to take hate out of the equation and love people regardless of their sins.

When Jesus called us to love one another, it wasn’t limited by guidelines or parameters. The commandment was simple and to the point: “A new command I give you; Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35 NIV).

There are no regulations on who and when to love. Love is not ours to control, monitor, and divvy up. Love was never intended to be kept to ourselves. It was meant to be shared with anyone and everyone willing to accept it.

The idea of loving without limits may seem a little intimidating, but that’s the raw beauty of it. Sometimes loving people might not make sense, but it still makes a difference. 

There is a man named Emmanuel, who was part of the Rwanda genocide in 1994. As part of the Hutu majority, he assisted in the killings of nearly a million people, and one of those people was the husband of a Tutsi woman. Emmanuel later came to find shame in his actions, and he then asked for the forgiveness of the man’s wife. Not only did she express that God had already forgiven him for his actions, but that she did as well.

What reckless love was shown through the actions of this woman. Where the rest of the world might give her an excuse to eternally hate this man, she instead harnessed the love of God and offered a place of forgiveness and grace.

If anyone should be leading the way for love and compassion, it should be the followers of Love Himself – Jesus. When we begin to view people through the eyes of Jesus, we are less likely to see their flaws and more likely to see their need for love. 

All throughout Scripture we see Jesus loving people whom others deemed foul, broken, dirty, and unworthy. For us that may mean the homeless drunk guy, the prostitute hanging out downtown, the person in jail, the drug addict – even the convicted sex offender. People may criticize you for giving your time and attention to people who are ostracized or considered permanently broken. They may say it’s not safe, that they’re not worth your time, and that these people gave up the right to be treated well when they made their bad decisions. They said that to Jesus too. But while self-proclaimed followers of God sat back and criticized the openness of Jesus’ love for people, He called them out for their lack of it:

“And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Mark 2:14-16 ESV)

Take note that even the Pharisees and other religious leaders are confused as to why Jesus is extending love to those who are sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, and thieves. The love Jesus showed to these people was without boundaries or regulation. He was giving it all to people who might not even recognize Him as the Son of God. The beauty of this is that Jesus knew these people couldn’t offer Him anything in return, and yet He still embraced their friendship and presence.

Jesus’ response to the religious elite was nothing short of jaw-dropping: 

“And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17 ESV)

The sick, or the sinners, were the people who needed the most urgent shot of love. You probably have someone in mind right now who could be classified as one of “those who were sick.” Hey, it may even be you. But no matter the person or their beliefs, when you show them love, you show them the Spirit of Jesus Himself. 

A Fish Out Of Water

I have always felt a little like a fish out of water. I have never been interested in financial wealth. I have always been looking for my purpose in life. What it is I can do to fulfill a deep need that I felt in my life. I didn’t want to live to work. I wanted to work to live. Life was more important than the work I would be doing. The purpose for my life always outweighed the  provision I needed to live on. And, then one day I realized that if I could nail down what my inner passion was I would find my purpose. And, hopefully, there would be a way to earn or receive the provision needed.

So, I know, three “P’s” … Provision, Purpose, Passion.

Most of my generation – the Baby Boomers – focused on provision. Once they found a way, a job, a profession, which would earn them a good living they then began to take the time to look at purpose and passion. As a result, many of them became involved in social causes when they reached their early fifties. They went, as the literature states, from seeking success to looking for significance. As a result of this approach they believed it was their task to help there children get a great education so that they too could have adequate ‘provision.’ When their children grew up and had their provision secure then their parents believed that their central duty as parents was complete. 

This, of course, is part of the reason there is a generation gap. The parents want their child to find a way to make a good living. The child (Millennials and Gen Z) were looking for a place to express their passion and find their purpose in life. Then they would be concerned about ‘making a living.’ And, they would be willing to live on less if they could fulfill their passion and purpose. In other words, the parents want their children to make money and then consider making a difference. The children don’t want to make money unless they are making a difference.

So, why my comment that I felt like a fish out of water? Because I went to university to get a business degree and then graduate and make a lot of money. However, in my third year of a four year degree I began to be less concerned with making a living and more concerned with what purpose my life had on the planet. I began to wonder what I could do with my life that would make a difference. I didn’t want to just live my life, take up space, breath air, and then die. I felt like ‘a fish out of water’ because all of my classmates were happy earning the degree and then making a good living.

During the next four years I finished the degree and worked in the business world. During this time I had added God into the equation and the search. I didn’t know Him personally but I believed there was a God and that He was ‘sort of’ interested in my life. So, I spoke to Him a lot and never heard back from Him. Then one night I asked Him what the “purpose” of my life was. He responded that I was on the planet to make a difference for Him. I felt this passion rise up inside me – like it had finally broken through and been released. The passion had come to life.

As I looked back from that point on my brief life I realized that many of the things I had been involved in even as a child were geared to make a difference in the lives of others. I began to understand that my newly discovered passion had always been there – I just had not been looking for it. And that my passion had always led me to become involved in things, activities, groups that had purpose. 

So, I left my work in the business world (provision) and went seeking further education to enable my passion and purpose to come to fruition. Today, 50 years later, I earn less than I was earning before I left the business world. And, God has been faithful in the area of provision. As I pursued my passion and purpose in life – making a difference in the lives of others – He has been faithful in providing for every need. 

When I share this with the Millennials and Gen Z generations they understand. Because my approach which made me ‘a fish out of water’ in my own generation allows me to swim with the current younger generations. 

Today I work mainly with Gen Z and Millennials and so I understand them. They put passion and purpose before provision. But, unlike myself, they are not like a fish out of water in their own generation, because their whole generation is this way. I am thankful that in my generation God called me and released me to fulfill my passion and purpose even though I felt like a stranger in my own generation. I felt like a fish out of water. But, looking back I would not change anything. I am enjoying swimming with those I now relate to and minister with.