Bearded Gandhi or The Pope ?
Posted on April 2, 2013
If you have read my writings for any length of time your jaw has probably hit the floor already. I know, I know. This is my first post that doesn’t have the title a thought about ___________. Why the sudden change? Not sure really, but the future is bright and who knows where this ship will land!
The truth of the matter is the title reflects two people’s assessment of me after listening to me share my thoughts about Jesus and His Kingdom. Both made me laugh and later they made me think. Specifically, I began to ponder Matthew 16 and the exchange between Jesus and His disciples. He asked a couple of simple questions. Who do people say that I am? The funny thing is, He didn’t receive a uniform response.
He received four separate answers. John the Baptist? Elijah? Jeremiah? One of the prophets?! What’s amazing is what you don’t see Jesus do. He doesn’t get irritated, frustrated, or annoyed by the glaring mislabel. Think about that. God Himself was OK with people not fully knowing who He was, understanding His role & authority, and mislabeled Him by placing Him in the category ‘prophet.’
This fascinates me because today seems to be the opposite. We remove the process of discovery for the sake of clarity. As Christians we have to be clear all the time about everything we think and believe and often it’s not what we believe that we share but what we know. And there is a big difference. I’m not suggesting flaky spirituality, as in both of my encounters I was very specific about Jesus; however, there was no need to correct the response because it might be the only box people use to define spiritual realities.
And we can all trust the Holy Spirit, whose job it is to reveal Christ, convict of unbelief, and guide us into all truth (John 16) to greatly perform His job! The second question Jesus asks reveals something wonderful as well. After hearing the answers of what people think, He looks at the twelve and says, “What about you? Who do you say I am?”
Peter gives a stunning answer that reveals His true identity, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Notice Jesus answer. “Flesh and blood did NOT reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven.” Did you catch that? Jesus didn’t tell Peter who He was, the Father did. That’s trust.
Jesus didn’t talk about who He was with His disciples. If He did, it must not have been too clear, as He asked the guys that had followed Him around 24/7 who they thought he was. And if it was clear, most of the time the disciples didn’t fully believe Him until after He resurrected. And even then, some doubted (see Matthew 28). What’s my point? Jesus didn’t seem to mind. He let people be in process, discover by the Spirit the reality of Christ, and knew who He was more powerful than who they weren’t.
What if we learned to listen to people without formulating our comeback to Christianize the conversation? What if we shared out of an overflow of our revelation of Jesus and not out of pressure to measure up? What if we shared only what He brought to mind (see John 14) and trusted Him with what we didn’t say? What if we were called the only terms an un-churched, non-religious world knows? What if we didn’t rush to correct, but trusted the Holy Spirit to reveal and develop convictions? My bet, the same would be said of us as was said of the twelve, “The men (and women) who have turned the world upside down, have come here. (Acts 17)” This my friends is incredibly good news and the whole world is very interested.