It’s impressive to see the way Jesus presented Himself differently to different people. To Nicodemus he said, “you must be born from above.” To the rich young ruler, “go and sell all you own and follow me.” To the woman at the well Christ was living water. To the Jew He was the fulfillment of the Law. Certain religious rulers he rebuked, demanding repentance before they dare approach the Lord, while to the woman caught in adultery he offered not a single harsh word, only complete and utter acceptance.
It’s beautiful, isn’t it? To borrow Paul’s expression, “Christ is all.” He is all the things that men need. Yet He is not a “thing” at all, but a living Person. To those seeking an entrance, Christ is the door. To those in need of guidance, He is the shepherd. For those without life, He is the resurrection!
But He is unboxable at the same time. His self-presentation does not come in one pre-packaged form, and that is just what we evangelical Christians can’t stand about the Lord. We like it all cut-and-dry, methodical, systematic. We prefer a neatly defined approach to God and a bullet-pointed salvation: Follow these steps and you’re in. Then check these boxes everyday to make sure you stay in, or (for those with more Calvinistic tastes) to constantly re-verify that you were actually in to begin with. 😉 We may not care to admit it, but that is how we often view things.
What I love about the Lord Jesus is that He does not fit into the molds of men, even the Christian molds which we’ve been told Christ Himself invented. He is untameable by any of our standards. One moment He’s telling me that the person who is not with us is against us, but then just as I’m about to rise up and denounce my brother’s heresy, he comes back at me with “but he that is not against us is for us.”
Obviously these kinds of statements demand some further clarification, but I hope you get the heart of what I’m saying. For all my knowledge of the Bible I know Christ Himself so little-I’m just seeing that more and more lately. I know the temptation to try to be a great leader, to feign certainty over things I’m not really certain of and draw tight lines over who is in and who is out of my particular version of the “true church.” But I see how great the call is to deny myself in these ways. There are just too many young Christian men out there-myself included-who take themselves and their role in God’s kingdom far too seriously. Humility, brokenness, being sent by God and not just called… these are the qualities that should demand more of our time and attention.
I’m rambling a bit off course here, but maybe I just needed to let loose some of my inner stirrings today. We certainly do need leaders in life-men and women of real vision and gifting who can advance the purpose of the Lord in the earth-but we need leaders with far more than just vision, gifting, and Bible knowledge. We need character, wisdom, true holiness, and a healthy portion of real life experience, among other things. Qualities, like it or not, that take a lot of time to develop.
For, as T. Austin Sparks once said, “it is not what we do, but what we have that is the secret of service.”
Oh well. I’ve said my piece for the day. Thanks for listening. 🙂