Friday, July 10, 2015

Sacred People (part 4)

In this series of articles we're examining the life of Jesus to see what a truly Sacred Person looks like. And it may not be the most spiritual or holy person, although that's what we've been led to believe.  The answer may shock you.

Sacred People (part 1)
Sacred People (part 2)
Sacred People (part 3)

Unholy people

So far we've talked about the need to be authentic and to begin to allow God to expand our small-minded thinking.  And we saw in Acts 10 that we need to treat everyone as if they are created in God's image... because they are!  As we finish up this series we'll look at ways to practically apply these truths.

When we look at the life of Jesus, we see the will of God in action.  He lived a holy life.  His disciples record God speaking from heaven about Him:

And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” - Matthew 3:17

God was well pleased with Him because He always did those things that please God.  He lived a life that was fully devoted to God.  This is the definition of a sacred life.  Jesus was truly a sacred person!  And by looking at the life of Jesus we can see how sacred people should live.

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So what does that mean to us?  Let's observe the kind of people Jesus connected with.  We would expect Him to only associate with His disciples or with "holy" people.  But that's not what His biographers (His disciples) wrote about Him.  Their accounts were filled with stories of Jesus connecting with very "unholy" people.  Here are just a few:

* Luke 19:1-10 Jesus had dinner with Zacchaeus and his friends (other tax collectors and "sinners").  The same thing happened as He invited Matthew to become one of His disciples. (Matthew 9:9-13)

* Luke 7:36-50 Jesus protected a "sinful woman" from the taunts of the religious rulers.

* John 4:1-30 Jesus had a conversation with a Samaritan woman who lived a morally loose life.

* John 8:1-11 Jesus protected a woman from death by stoning, even though she had been caught in the very act of adultery.

* Matthew 19:13-15 Jesus corrected His disciples for trying to "protect" Him from being interrupted by a bunch of kids.

Jesus wasn't afraid of messy people.  Actually, He seemed to prefer their company to that of hyper-religious people (hypocrites).  He was known for loving the unlovely, giving dignity to the marginalized and serving with no strings attached.  Connecting with messy people is a holy thing!  Sacred People choose to connect with messy people!

Tweet This: Connecting with messy people is a holy thing!

You need to know, though, that to follow Jesus' example in this will cost you!  It will be inconvenient and uncomfortable.  It will be time- and energy-consuming.  It will be messy.  And it will be humbling. (We must serve horizontally - as equals - and not vertically - in a condescending manner).

How do we do this practically?

1. Ask God to change your filter.  We have to learn to see people through His eyes.  As we grow in our understanding of God's grace, we will learn to value people.  It's easy to see how the Apostle Paul’s filter change over the years by examining his writings:

    A. Circa 55 AD – "I am the least of the apostles." (1 Corinthians 15:9)
    B. Circa 61 AD – "I am the least important of all God’s people." (Ephesians 3:8)
    C. Circa 64 AD – "I am the chief of sinners." (1 Timothy 1:15)

2. Pay attention to interruptions.  Jesus was often willing to be interrupted. (twice in Mark 5, Matthew 15:21-28, Matthew 19:13-15 and Mark 6:30-44, just to name a few)  Opportunities most often come to us dressed up as interruptions.  We need to be willing to be interrupted in order to connect with the people God is sending us.

What would the world look like if we truly treated every man, woman and child as if they were created in God’s image?  What would the world think of the Church if we genuinely welcomed people - especially people that don’t “fit in”?  I believe things would begin to change!

The very first person to commit her life to Christ in our church in Freiburg, Germany was a drug-addicted, alcoholic prostitute.  She came because of a flyer we put in her mailbox, but stayed for the service because our team truly welcomed her when she showed up - they got her a cup of coffee, engaged her in conversation, sat with her and showed her the heart of Jesus for messy people.  And that Sunday morning she gave her heart to Jesus.

As this world sprints farther away from God, we will encounter more and more "unholy" people.  Millennials don't subscribe to the same moral standards as previous generations do.  But these are EXACTLY the people God wants us to connect with.  Remember, they have been created in God's image and are totally worthy of love and acceptance - just as we are.  And we need to welcome them, - just as Jesus welcomes us!

How is your church attracting and welcoming the unchurched?  Join the conversation below...

PS. To hear the mp3s of this message click the following links:

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