Saturday, February 17, 2018

Are We Jesus When We Serve Others?

I see a lot of memes online that tell us how we are the only Jesus that some people meet. The memes tell us that we are to be Jesus' hands and feet in the world. While these memes bring out the warm fuzzies to think about, I could not help but wonder at how biblical they were.

One of my favorite passages of Jesus' teachings is the parable of the sheep and the goats. This is found in Matthew 25:31-46. Jesus  tells people that He will separate people in the end, like sheep and goats are separated by shepherds. The sheep go on the right and the goats go on the left.

The sheep are told that they are blessed because they gave Him something to eat when He was hungry and something to drink when He was thirsty. They invited Him in as a stranger and clothed Him when He needed clothes. They looked after Him when He was sick and they visited Him in prison.

The sheep are a little confused at this point, because they are pretty sure that they would remember serving Jesus, yet He is claiming that they did serve Him. They ask Jesus when did they see Him in need and help Him. Jesus tells them that "whatever [they] did one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, [they] did for [him]."

Do you grasp how significant that is? Whatever we do for the least of these, it is like we are doing that to Jesus. When we buy a homeless man a meal, we feed Jesus. When we give coats to the poor for winter, we clothe Jesus. Jesus did not tell His disciples that they need to do these good things so that they can "be Jesus" to the needy; He told them that when they do good things, they are serving Jesus.

Saying that we are being Jesus to the needy puts us in the position of Messiah and Savior. (That sounds like a recipe to start a Messiah Complex). But, if we are us, serving Christ, there is a lot more humility involved. It is true that Paul tells us to have the "attitude of Christ" (Philippians 2:5), but having a Christ-like attitude is a more humble position than being Christ to others.

What do you think about this?

Are there verses telling us that we are being Jesus to others when we serve them?

How does Matthew 25 change our outlook in serving others?

Saturday, February 10, 2018

A Review of and Challenge from Primal Fire

I recently read a book called Primal Fire.

This is an epic non-fiction Christian book. Starting with the Holy Spirit, it studies the gifts that Jesus gave the church in Ephesians 4.

The author makes the claim that apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds (pastors), and teachers were given by Jesus to equip believers and to grow the church to the fullness of Christ.

Using the acronym APEST, they look at each of the gifts individually and jointly. Each gift has its own unique strengths that build up the church and equip believers to do likewise, but each gift has a dark side that when unchecked, it can cause damage throughout the body of Christ. Furthermore, there are false versions of the gifts when people masquerade in an APEST role and claim the authority and honor associated with it.

But don't take my word for it, read Ephesians 4 in every translation you can get your hands on. Then read this book. Then send me a note telling me what you learned in it.

As you read this book, you may identify with some of the positive traits associated with an APEST role...or like me, you may sheepishly grimace as traits of the dark side lurk at little too close to home.

I had two big take aways from this book.

1. Jesus gave these APEST roles to the Church in the New Testament. They are mentioned in Revelations as being present in the end times. From the end of the New Testament, until the end times finish, these gifts are and will still be present in the churches. We may call them by different, safer names, but I recognized their fruit and their people in our churches still.

2. The goal of the APEST roles are not just to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds (pastors), and teachers in and of themselves. But rather their full goal is to equip others to do the same, whether that is carrying the Gospel to new places, hearing God's voice/message, loving the lost/unreached, uniting the body & caring for it, or teaching good doctrine and Biblical truths.

God has done great things through the early church and up until the present day. Will we continue to join Him and equip the body of Christ to do so as well?