Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 7 October 2016

Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.  Hebrews 2, verse 11.

Think about this one.   I mean really, truly, slowly contemplate the idea being stated by this Bible verse.

You’re like Jesus.

Jesus is like you.

You and Jesus, the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-everything creator of the universe, are family.   You’re in His.

You aren’t part of Allah’s family.   In fact, nothing you can do could ever get you close to Allah; you’ll never be good enough.   You aren’t on the same level as the Buddha.   He reached nirvana first and, well, we just aren’t that cool.   Your ancestors did it better than you.  The earth and Mother Gaia are so much bigger than you.   Name one other faith on this planet and, chances are, you and I just don’t measure up.   This isn’t Rag On Other Religions Day:   it’s simply the way things are.

Not so with Jesus.   With Jesus, you’re family.   We’re family.   You and I, we are adopted children.   It’s as if He showed up at court and did everything necessary to fully, freely, finally adopt us as His own children.   Even more, He doesn’t just think of us as children:   He looks at us as brothers and sisters.   Equals, peers, siblings, friends:   we aren’t just family.   We’re on the same level.

Now, let’s keep it real.   Us, we aren’t God.  We aren’t supernatural and we aren’t the Triune God the way Jesus is.   But He asks us to put off thinking like that and reminds us that He came here as Himself, as fully man while being fully God.   We don’t have to understand that mystery.   In fact, we don’t get to.   It’s simply a fact we get to accept.   Yet fact it is.  We can’t do what He does in the supernatural realm and we never will.   We are the created, not the Creator.

But as men, we get to relate to Jesus man to man because that’s how He relates to us.   He reminds us that He lived a full life among us.   He ate, drank, slept, laughed, cried.   Jesus did the same things you and I do except sin.   He lived the kind of life we were designed to live to teach us that it could be done.   He lived the life we could live, that, post-death, we will one day get to live.   And He did it out of love to set things right.

Buddha didn’t do that.   Allah can’t do that.   Neither can the Hindus, the Mormons, the atheists, or any other followers of any other faith.   But Jesus did it.

He did it because He sees us as people, as men and women.   He meets us where we are and asks that we meet Him there in return.   He wants to meet us on a human level because He knows that’s what we can understand.   He knows that He can appeal to our understanding, our hearts and minds, because He is the foundation of all understanding.   Faith in God is the beginning of human reason.   Jesus knows this and wants us to know it too so that we can live our lives here in purpose and love with Him as our guide.

Jesus sees you as His brother or sister because He wants you to see Him as your brother.  He wants to be the person with whom you can confide, and trust, and rely on.   Jesus wants us to know Him as family because family sticks together.   Because family is a bond that matters.   Because a family is the primary unit in every society, and because mankind was designed to live in families.

Seriously think about that.   Seriously contemplate that thought.  Jesus brings many sons to glory because He sees those sons, you and I, as brothers whom He loves and adores.   That’s the best news you’.

For more reading:   Hebrews 13:12, Ephesians 5:26, Matthew 28:10.

Lord Jesus, my brother and my Lord, thank You for loving me as your sibling!

Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 29 January 2015

Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable?   Then how will you understand any of the parables? – Mark 4, verse 13.

Did you notice the subtle tone in which Jesus confronted, corrected, questioned, loved and taught using only a few words?   Do you do that in your regular communication?   I know I don’t.   I’m a project manager, and I prefer that my communications with people be blunt and direct.   One doesn’t have to be a jerk when communicating with others because the goal is to communicate, to convey and gain mutual understanding. That doesn’t happen too often if I’m directive, accusatory, condescending, or, well, ‘jerky.’

If you read it again, you find that Jesus isn’t condemning the people who were questioning Him.  He isn’t beating them down with their ignorance, or talking down to them as if they were stupid.   Instead, Jesus poses rhetorical questions to them, forcing them to spiritually engage with Him and intellectually examine what it is He has to say.   That seems like a lot for a first century rabbi to do, doesn’t it?   We consider the people before us to have been more primitive, yet this is incredibly complex. That makes perfect sense, you see if you consider Jesus to be exactly who He says He is.

It’s actually one of the things I like most about Jesus: that He says so much in what He says, conveying deep and intricate meanings without talking too much. In the Parable of the Sower, He’s teaching God 101.   God offers His salvation to everyone, but not everyone lets it take root.   He does this by using figurative language to paint pictures that are descriptive and appealing as well as provocative and convicting.   I don’t know of too many modern speakers in our time who can do that very well, but the Rabbi from Nazareth does.

He then asks people about what He’s told them.   They offer questions back to Him, and He demonstrates both His loving humility and His endless patience in hearing them out. Rather than smack them down, He continues to teach. It’s as if He’s saying, “ok, are you with me so far?   Listen up now because this is important.” Rabbis teach rhetorically, but Jesus uses that same rhetoric while making it personal to the person.   Allah doesn’t do that, instead decreeing all that we must do to approach the love he only offers conditionally.   Buddha doesn’t do that, instead, sending us off navel-gazing to look for inner peace where there exists only inner turmoil. Scientology, Mormonism, and any other ‘ology’ or ‘ism’ you can think of don’t do that, confusing commitment with real faith and love. But Jesus does it, and He does it without judging or being unloving to Muslims, Buddhists, Scientologists, Mormons or even Baptists:   all of whom He loves and cherishes and wants for eternity just as He does you or me.

I think what strikes me most about this verse is, once again, how Jesus meets us where we are, here in our sins and wallowing in our ignorance.   He doesn’t use those against us but, instead, looks to walk us past them into being who He sees us to be.   He does it through teaching and questioning, urging us to live the life He has in store for us instead of us just settling for what the world has to offer.

Lord, help my unbelief.   Teach me out of my ignorance.   Forgive my thick skin.   Lead me in Your better way.

Read Mark 4, verses 1-20.