Jesus came to earth for YOU. And He came for US. ALL of us! Full of grace and truth!
In a culture that promotes individual differences while also creating like-minded communities that affirm your opinion, Jesus’s life and teachings are counter-cultural:
- Love your neighbor, and also love your enemy. (Luke 10:27; Matt 5:43-44)
- The greatest is least, and the least is greatest. (Mark 10:31)
- Serve others first, and think of yourself less. (Mark 10:44-45; Phil 2:3-4)
- We are ALL children in the same family of God. (I John 3)
- Forgive. Forgive. Forgive. (Mark 11:25)
- Take one day a week to rest and worship. Be still and know. (Exodus 10:18; Psalm 46:10)
- Store up treasures in heaven rather than accumulating things on earth. (Matt 6:19-21)
- Man looks at appearances, but the Lord looks at the heart. Charm is deceptive and beauty of fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to the praised. (1 Sam 16:7; Prov 31:30)
- Marriage is a holy union between man and woman. (Matt 19:4-6)
- Be a living sacrifice and transform your mind. Don’t copy the world’s ways. (Romans 12:1-2)
- He’ll carry our burdens so we can live freely and lightly. (Matt 11:28-30)
The list above are just some counter-cultural teachings with just one related scripture reference. There are tons more, but you get the idea. 🙂
Yet Jesus changed EVERYTHING when He died so we might live. The King of the World gave His life so we spend eternity with Him despite our many, many, failures. Talk about a fairy tale plot twist! I love to describe the gospel as the ‘greatest love story ever’ because it is truly beyond our understanding. Yet it’s a story all about LOVE.
And this LOVE is how Jesus changes communities. When LOVE is the foundation of all we do and our response to all we’ve been given through Christ, communities can be changed.
In John Mark Comer’s book, Live No Lies, he shares the story of a ‘tiny Jewish sect of Jesus followers who overcame the bastion of paganism and won over the Roman Empire in only a few centuries.’ The main emphasis of the story is not ‘the church’s relevance or relatability to the culture but its differences and distinctness that made it compelling to so many. The church was marked by five distinctive features . . . ‘
- ‘The church was multiracial and multiethnic, with a high value for diversity, equity, and inclusion.’
- ‘The church was spread across socioeconomic lines as well, and there was a high value for caring for the poor, those with extra were expected to share with those with less.’
- ‘It was staunch in its active resistance to infanticide and abortion.’
- ‘It was resolute in its vision of marriage and sexuality as between one man and one woman for life.’
- ‘It was nonviolent, both on a personal level and a political level.’
John Mark Comer goes on to say how two of these features would be considered liberal while two would be considered conservative. And the last just doesn’t mesh well with the others from a worldly viewpoint.
‘Yet all five positions are basic, historic Christian orthodoxy. NOTHING in the five is fringe or off center for a disciple of Jesus.’
Because Jesus changes everything. And His teachings can change communities. As we live out His love. Yet when I saw the quote below randomly on my Facebook feed, it truly made me stop and think:
We have become so dominated by relational evangelism…we just keep relating, doing nice things for people while they’re perishing…
To claim to be a loving people and not tell the gospel is a self contradiction.John Piper
How do I love others with His love AND share the greatest love story ever? How can we as followers of Christ both live out and shout out His love in our communities?
Jess Connelly’s book Dance, Stand, Run is one of my favorites as it addresses our Christian culture’s shift from an extreme emphasis on truth to now an extreme emphasis on grace. Our world needs both. Yet you can’t have one without the other. Jesus’s teachings emphasized both. We need to stand firm on truth while dancing to the rhythms of grace. Then we run on a mission of love.
Who in your community needs to hear of His truth in love? Who in your community needs to experience His grace through your love? Let’s run on a mission of love together and let Jesus change our community! Full of grace and truth!