Use What We Have

As Jesus went about the Galilean countryside, he taught and cured the people’s diseases.  In my last blog I mentioned that he used the powers he possessed, miraculous as they were, in daily circumstances, to help those he loved.  Acknowledging that his healings, his supernatural control of the physical world and his raising the dead as gifts that belong only to God, what, you might ask, can we do that would even come close to comparing with what Jesus could do.

Well, we might start by considering that we have exactly the same amount of time each day that Jesus had.  The choice is ours as to how we spend each minute of each day.  The more Christ like we are, the more minutes we use in assisting others we encounter.  We may not be able to reverse their illnesses or rescue them from unforgiving elements or even raise their departed children from the dead, but we can comfort and assist with the resources that are available to us.  We can share our presence in times of sorrow, a bite to eat when hungry, a drink when thirsty and encouraging words to soothe troubled souls.  

Additionally, by the force of sheer numbers, Christians today have immeasurably more total time than Jesus and his disciples had.  The sum of our efforts can provide infinitely more sustenance, solace, shelter and encouragement to a lonely and hurting world.  Maybe our efforts are individually less dramatic than Jesus’ Godly powers, but even the cures that Jesus effected were as temporary as any aid we provide.  All those he helped eventually died and natural disasters and disease still claim their toll. 

In a different manner, modern Christianity as a whole has financial wealth beyond those that Jesus and his disciples had.  They were a vagabond group that lived from day to day on limited funds.  We on the other hand, are rich by comparison.  Just by pooling our excess monies, we can deploy material blessings that dwarf what Jesus chose to use.

So what can we do to emulate the ministry of Jesus?  Millions of believers can provide billions of minutes and dollars of assistance and it doesn’t take a herculean effort either.  Just each one of us choosing each day to spend some of our available resources living beyond our own self interests.  Such is the nature of spiritual salt. 

Christ Like

As Christians, we are to be like Christ.  But what was Christ like?  His adult life began by traveling throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and healing every disease and sickness among the people.  He changes water to wine to bail out a wedding host.  He had an engaging conversation with a social outcast at a well.  He physically touched a leper, cleansing him.  He cured Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever.  He stilled a storm, calming the fears of his friends.  A woman reached for the hem of his garment and he allowed her to be healed.  He raised the synagogue leader’s daughter from the dead.  And more… and more...

I’ve wondered many times why so much ink was dedicated to these social situation miracles instead of more details on His teachings – doctrines to abide by.  But then maybe he was teaching us – how to be like him.

Remember the big two commandments?  And the following words that all the Law and the prophets hang on these two commandments?  Jesus truly loved all those people He interacted with and He used the powers he possessed to help them.  In the process:

  • God was glorified
  • He established His own credibility
  • He left each place better than he found it
  • The light from His presence spread far and wide

He was modeling for us what the 2nd greatest command looks like and illustrating a standard for those who would later aspire to emulate Him.

Salt & Light #2

The suffix “–ian” as in Christ-ian, means belonging to, from, relating to or to be like.  So when we accept the designation “Christian” we acknowledge we are born from and belong to Christ.  However, we also relate to who he is and become like him.  But what does this mean?  It’s the question of a lifetime.

Let’s start by considering what he said.  Early in His sermon on the mount, He gives us His expectations for the presence of Christians in the world.  

1. We are the salt of the world.  Our existence is to favorably flavor this wildly imperfect planet we live on.  

2. We are to enlighten the world.  Through the reflected illumination we give off, others must see our good works and glorify God.

But what if instead of God being increasingly glorified He is being marginalized by modern society?  Then it falls on those of us who are Christ-ians, to enhance our saltiness and brighten our illumination.  Living the big two commands, especially the second, loving others as ourselves, moves us along the right path.  

All good theory you say, but exactly how do we do this?  Next time we’ll take a peek at Christ’s life on earth and think about how to relate to it.

Salt & Light

I am a person of faith.  I believe in God and His Son Jesus Christ.  A half a century ago I expressed that faith and belief in baptism,  and over the intervening decades, have studied, searched, contemplated, experimented with, succeeded – and failed – with understanding, what all this means for my life.  In other words, what is expected of me as a Christian? 

Let’s start with a question asked of Jesus, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law”?  His response – love the Lord your God with your whole being.  But Jesus didn’t stop there.  I guess he considered the answer incomplete without answering an unasked question – what’s the second?  That answer, as we’ve all heard before, is to love your neighbor as yourself.   However, by focusing over the years on the big two commands, I’ve managed to pay less attention to what he says next – ALL the Law and the prophets hang on these TWO commandments.

I’ve come to believe that the root of society’s issues we struggle with today stems from Christians’ (me included) failure to honor the top TWO commandments.  As such, there is an urgent need for Christians to connect their individual faith to the top two commands in such a way that we flavor our environment.  If you so choose, over the next several months, we can together explore one person’s thoughts on what it means to be a Christian, and in so doing, how we can enlighten the world around us.