Mick’s Memo – Heart Resonance
Asking myself, “What is God Really Like?” in this sermon series has been both challenging and rewarding. It is rewarding and encouraging to reflect on the amazing combination of attributes that God has revealed about Himself. It is simultaneously challenging. As followers of Jesus we are called to become increasingly “like Jesus” in Whom “all of the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and we have been given fullness in Christ.” (Colossians 2:9,10a).
One of those many challenging attributes is that God is the “Champion of the Broken”, the focus of our study this coming weekend. We see it in Scripture from beginning to end. Even in the primordial rebellion of Adam and Eve, God’s grace and provision for forgiveness can be seen. Soon the human landscape is saturated with evil, violence and exploitation. Despite the need for a “reboot”, God rescues a remnant of humanity through Noah and his family; a far from perfect object of grace. The rest of Genesis uncovers the flaws of every generation of the Patriarchs from Abraham down through to Joseph; but God continues to extend grace and provision.
Keeping His promise God multiplies the descendants of Israel and redeems them from slavery in Egypt. As the people are given laws for governing their nation they are carefully told to look out for the widow, the fatherless and the brokenhearted. Later the prophets would warn the Israelites to keep those compassionate laws or they would suffer consequences for not being in tune with God’s heart. They didn’t tune and the consequences came and remain to this day.
Next Jesus came and incarnated the heart of God for all to see. His compassion for the lowly was a major point of conflict with the religious leaders of His time. He associated with those the “righteous” considered “unrighteous” based on their skewed thinking that any who are suffering or poor are receiving appropriate “consequences” for being “sinners” (see Luke 15 for Jesus’ rebuttal).
When the Apostles received the Holy Spirit and the church was born, they demonstrated Jesus’ influence in their priorities. They were known for taking care of those with needs by extreme measures like selling property to help others. Their first internal controversy was related to distributing resources to widows with fairness. Even critics of their beliefs marveled at how they loved.
We have made this ethic our mission statement—”Bringing Christ’s compassion to people at the Crossroads of life!”. I believe in it and I am convinced we believe in this mission as a gathering of Jesus followers. However, it is much more challenging to act on it than to intellectually agree with it. The passage we point to as establishing this ethic comes from Matthew’s narrative of Jesus’ life in a paragraph summarizing Jesus’ early public ministry…
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:35-38 (NIV)
As He went, Jesus taught and healed. He knew that people were afflicted both physically and spiritually. Their spiritual leaders were exploiting, confusing and harassing them when they should have been shepherding them. Jesus showed His disciples how to resonate with His and the Father’s heart. He called and sent them to operate out of that same heart of compassion. The early church succeeded wildly in their generation and the church intentionally displayed God’s heart despite very limited resources and intense opposition. The baton has been passed to succeeding generations with varying degrees of success. It is our turn. The “crowds” around us are still “harassed and helpless”. We are called to work the fields; the work is to align our passion with His and act on it.
Looking forward to seeing you this weekend!