Reflections: Jesus Wept

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Reflections: Jesus Wept

Have you ever wondered what Jesus was thinking when he wept?

Just after he had marched toward Jerusalem victorious (Palm Sunday), Jesus wept when he saw the city.  Luke records Jesus' words:

"If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.  The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.  They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you."

Jesus wept because with remorse because people in the city were unable to see the peace that he was bringing.  The Kingdom of God had come.  Jesus was restoring people: healing the sick, the lame, the blind, the sinner, and the saint.  Those who did not come to Jesus were missing a chance at a new life.

Jesus wept because the time was passing for people in the city to know peace.  Jesus death would bring God's wrath upon the city.  With Jesus there, the city had time to repent, to seek life, to change -- but the people did not avail themselves of it.  Maybe they did not believe... maybe they were busy... maybe they only followed for the show... Jesus wept for them all.

Jesus wept because they missed God's coming.  Ultimately, Jesus came so that people might know him and receive new life.  When Jesus came that day, many people followed him.  Many more stayed at home.  He wept for those who missed the opportunity to be reconciled to God simply because they had better things to do.  Those things were probably good, but the thing they missed was priceless.

Jesus wept.

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Reflections: Pivot and a Hockey Stick

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Reflections: Pivot and a Hockey Stick

Following Jesus is a hockey stick.  For those of you not familiar with Silicon Valley speak, a hockey stick is the graph that Google saw when it realized that advertizing was making money.  It is exponential growth upward with no ceiling in sight.  It is what Silicon Valley start-ups dream about every single day.

When you start following Jesus you may not see very much, there is just a pivot in your life direction.  Pretty soon though, you realize this business is not like the last one.  This business is going somewhere -- fast!

The Apostle Paul had one of these pivots.  For him, it was profitable to persecute the early church, killing its followers and marking him as the most zealous of Jews.  However, once he met Jesus, his trajectory changed. 

At first, it may have just seemed like more religion with minor updates, but by the time Paul died, he would have traveled all through the Roman world, experiencing miracles, tragedy, joy, persecution, and more.  His life went from religious zealotry to an intimate relationship with God.  He became spiritually rich.

Unlike the Silicon Valley lottery, the process for spiritual fulfillment is repeatable.  Jesus is alive and people are following Him and growing rich every day.  For many, the promise of richness seems like a hoax.  It is too good to be true -- "God does not care about me" and "God is not big enough" are the lies we believe.

Find a Christian.  Ask them to show you Jesus.  Better yet, find Jesus and ask him for life.

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Reflections: Pray Life

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Reflections: Pray Life

One of Jesus' first followers was John.  He wrote a short letter to the early church where he charged the new Christian community to live with Jesus in the reality of the power that he offered.  He was also extremely confident that Jesus would hear us.  The remarkable thing is what he asks us to do with that.

John felt that if Jesus is actually able to grant us what we ask, then why not pray for those who are doing evil?  If we do, John says, we will bring life to those people.  It is remarkable to think that my prayers will cause God to give a person life.

If we look around ourselves, we will find a myriad of ways in which people are doing things we know are wrong.  It can be easy to react in all sorts of ways:  confrontation, anger, complacency, etc.  Instead, we can ask God to give them life and they will be changed.  It sounds too simple and too good to be true.

If we live as if this physical world is all there is, then we rob ourselves of the opportunity to see God work.  God is active and able to work.  If we look beyond the physical, we can see him actively engaged, and it will change our behavior.  God is present, and a simple request can have lasting consequences for good.

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Reflections: God Sees and Acts

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Reflections: God Sees and Acts

The Lord looked and was displeased
    that there was no justice.
He saw that there was no one,
    he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm achieved salvation for him,
    and his own righteousness sustained him.

~ Isaiah

All of us experience pain.  We cry out at injustice and we hope that someone acts.  God sees every misfortune and he will not let a single one go without justice.  More importantly, God will save the one who is the victim of injustice.

The truth is that we create injustice.  Many times we do not think about it, though perhaps in this day and age, we are more aware.  Are we shopping locally?  Are we buying fair trade?  Do you think green?  Living without causing harm is difficult and perhaps even impossible in this broken world. 

Do you stop trying?  -- No.  This is too important to ignore.

Do you consider your efforts good enough? -- No.  We are responsible for causing other people pain.  To the best of our ability, we should work in earnest to reduce human suffering.

Do we succeed?  Never, the problems are too big and too systemic.  This is something that goes deeper that even our communities can solve working together.

If we all try and yet all fail, then what hope do we have?  No one succeeds and we all lose.  On one extreme, someone might say "no one have any more kids, humans are evil".  On the other extreme, someone might say, "we might as well not even try."  However, God says, "I see, and I will save."

Let God be God!  Take the pressure off your shoulders to save humanity.  Engage like God engages, but engage because you are becoming more like Jesus in following Him.  Live a life empowered by the Holy Spirit, letting Him do the heavy lifting.  In this way, you work hard without a burden.  You work with joy and injustice is squashed.

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Reflections: Redefining Culture

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Reflections: Redefining Culture

Our culture informs us.  It tells us what is good to wear, what is good to eat, what is fun, etc.  So often, it has informed so much of us, that we do not even realize just how fully we are products of our culture.

This happens in the church as well.  We see our faith through the eyes of our culture.  We interact with Jesus in our culture.  This can be a beautiful thing as we bring fresh enculturated expressions of worship to God in our day and age.  We can also seriously undermine Jesus' teaching without really noticing it. 

How do we get the good without the bad?

Jesus asks us to be his students and to align ourselves with Him.  This often looks like submitting ourselves little by little to what he taught about life and God.  It is good for us and is a natural part of Christian growth to go through this process.  Try this classic exercise:  Ask God to join you as you read a small passage of the Bible.  Ask yourself what you believe about what the Bible is talking about.  Identify where your ideas differ from what the Bible expresses.  Choose to follow Jesus in your thinking.

Those who practice this kind of submission on a regular (daily to weekly) basis will change -- not overnight, but over the course of years.  They will start talking like Jesus and thinking like Jesus.  They will be filled with the Holy Spirit.  They will be light in dark places.  Imagine walking with Jesus for a lifetime and bearing His image.

When you change, you do not leave your culture.  You simply reflect Jesus to the culture.  It is a testimony of what God has done and is doing in you.  Your culture changes with you, though ever more slightly.  It becomes a culture that respects life, upholds virtue, praises good, feeds the poor, and addresses injustice.  It becomes like Jesus but with the familiar clothes, food, and entertainment that it had before.

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