Monday, January 23, 2017

The Interesting Jesus

(submitted by Kerry Patton)
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

Do You Know What You Have?
I was watching Garage Squad, an automobile restoration program on the Velocity Network recently.  In that particular episode the car the team was going to put back into service was a 1970 Datsun 240Z. 
I was never all that enthused about the 240Z as I was more familiar with the model 280Z which was popular a few years later in 1975…about the time I really began to become excited about cars as a kid.  In my mind, since the 280Z was newer…It MUST have been a better car.  In truth however, the later cars had been encumbered with more stringent environmental restrictions and suffered not only lower horsepower, but also higher curb weight.  So even owners of the newer cars would opine for the earlier cars… THOSE apparently, were the ones to have.  I of course, was clueless to these facts.
There in the episode of Garage Squad, the show hosts began to be very excited about restoring such a rare and desired car as the Datsun 240Z.  It was only upon taking ownership that the owner came to realize just how rare this particular 240Z was.  The car had a vehicle identification number or VIN number of 00089. 
It seems that when Nissan, the parent company of Datsun in Japan was bringing the 240Z to America, the first 100 cars were “Dealer Only” models.  These cars were given to the dealers…not to sell, but to drive exclusively themselves to raise awareness of the car in a country that had never seen them before.  This little 240Z was not only one of the most desired Datsun’s in the world, it was among the rarest as well. 
Now I, who had never given the 240Z a second thought in my entire life, was leaning forward in my seat.  Nothing about the car had changed, but I was suddenly very interested!  You see…this car was now …VALUABLE!
Why are so many of us like this?  We tend to value only those things that we have personal knowledge of and experience with.
An Uninteresting Faith
I think that in a very similar way, we can look at Christianity and understand to a deeper degree why most of the world really isn’t interested in signing on with the faith we share.  They just don’t find it interesting.  They can’t appreciate…the value of a relationship with Jesus.  It’s just religion to them.  From the outside, the Christian faith must look like a prison sentence of “No’s.” 
·      You can’t get to heaven by any other means
·      You can’t curse 
·      You can’t eat too much 
·      You can’t get drunk
·      You can’t lie 
·      You can’t experiment with drugs 
·      You can only have sex with someone you are married to 
·      You can’t watch explicit movies 
And on and on… Don’t do this, you can’t do that.  And don’t even THINK about that…
Now while these all sound perfectly reasonable to you and me, to someone unbound by our convictions, it just sounds like we are being closed minded and legalistic.  They must see our faith much like some diet advice someone gave me not long ago: “Kerry, here’s a good way to lose weight…when you put anything in your mouth, if it tastes good…SPIT IT OUT!” 
Listen, if the only thing our Christian faith presents to the world is judgement, debate, and a long list of no-no’s, who in the world would find Jesus interesting…who could see his value?
Making Faith Interesting
So, how do we show the world the value of a saving relationship with Jesus?  How do we make our faith interesting?  By loving others like Jesus, and by our lives being changed by his transforming power!
·      As we walk in the grace and power of God; as we live, love, and serve others as Jesus did during his life, then our faith becomes interesting. 
·      As we endure hardship and testify of how our faithful God brought us through those times, our faith becomes interesting. 
·      When we perform not only what is required, but go above and beyond at no gain for ourselves …and give glory to God…our faith becomes interesting.
·      When the world around us gets to witness us loving our families, raising our children, dealing with the frustrations of our job and health issues…and dealing with all of this with God’s grace, patience, and love, then our faith becomes interesting. 
·      When our lives are lived no longer for ourselves, but for others, and it is truly because of Jesus, then our faith becomes interesting.
·      When our life compass leads us with discernment and compassion rather than judgement and self-righteousness, then our faith becomes interesting.

Father, make my life and my faith interesting.  Let my living and loving be magnetic to the hearts of those around me today.  How I long that they see how valuable…how precious life in you is! 

Set your hand to my mouth, O Lord, and let me only speak life and love, encouragement to others.  As I succeed or fail, as I walk or stumble, let it all be to the honor and glory of your name.  Let my faith…be interesting.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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