Sunday, September 23, 2012

Really Looking at Jesus

Let’s really marvel at Jesus this week. Let’s marvel at the fact that Jesus changed how the world expresses compassion, that he shaped education, revolutionized art and changed political theory. In him, we find hope and the one and only path to God.

For centuries, people lived distinctly divided lives. Identity remained defined by the group into which each person was born or married. Then Jesus taught people about God, himself, and the Holy Spirit that would reside within them after his death, and he gave them a new way to define themselves. Jesus presented an idea of community that no one had ever seen. In this community, all manner of people, wealthy or poor, Gentile or Jew, slave or free, were welcome.
Think of all the dissimilar people that Jesus brought together! People like C.S. Lewis, Bono, Pope Benedict XVI, Denzel Washington, and Tim Tebow; all of them united because of one man—Jesus Christ!
We are all one body united in Christ. As sinners and broken people, whether we are black or white, Asian or German, tall or short, single or married, parents or children, hip or nerdy, new believers or spiritual authorities, we are one community. Only one thing matters: Our identity is found in Jesus Christ, and he lives in all of us. Jesus brought us all together. He gave us hope through community. Who else could do that?

One of the most predominant principles shared in most westernized societies is the right of citizens to obtain an education. From about five years of age until around age eighteen, it is expected that children will attend school and be taught the knowledge, skills, customs and values necessary to shape them into productive members of society. This has become such a common occurrence that it’s pretty much taken for granted. But it wasn’t always so.

The life and teachings of Jesus would radically alter the “status quo” of education being a privilege only for the elite and would shape the foundation of education. Jesus, the ultimate Teacher of all time, set the precedence for making no distinction between fishermen, women, rich, poor, outcasts, young or old. His classroom was on mountaintops, in boats, synagogues, roadways and private homes. He taught one-on-one, in small and large groups, both privately and publically. He used methods that everyone could understand through parables, stories and everyday life occurrences and examples.

Jesus revealed to us the mysteries of God; of His immeasurable truth, love, mercy and grace. Through his teachings, Jesus gives us the hope of a relationship with God and his death on the cross. His burial and resurrection make that relationship a certainty. 

In Mark 3:17, Jesus taught that we are to follow the rules laid down by government while still surrendering to God all that belongs to God...which, of course, is everything else. In his time, Jesus’ statement was an abomination because he pointed out that, while government is an important element in our lives, there is also another realm, a second and ultimate authority by which we are governed. The Pharisees realized that, under this man’s reign, their dominion could be profoundly limited, and they were having none of it! But even by killing him, they couldn’t change what Jesus had set into motion.

From that time until now, disciples of Christ have been standing on these precepts. When it came time for our forefathers to design a governing document for this new world, they purposefully based it on the teachings of Jesus Christ: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and have been endowed by their Creator with certain rights…”

Jesus was also the architect of our global concepts toward human rights and dignity. He delivered a fresh perspective, and Galatians 3 reported that, in Christ Jesus, there is no longer a    distinction between people, and that we are all one our servanthood to him. In this election year, it’s important to remember that this powerful perspective grew sturdy legs throughout political history. Martin Luther King, in fact, was inspired by scripture at The Mall in Washington, D.C. when he began to quote the Book of Amos and    ultimately moved forward to declare to the gathering crowd: “I have a dream...that one day…”

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Sandra D. Bricker is a best-selling and award-winning author of laugh-out-loud romantic comedy for the Christian market. Her most recent book, Always the Designer Never the Bride is the third of a series of four novels in the Another Emma Rae Creation series from Abingdon Press Fiction. Check out her BLOG and sign up to receive her weekly posts by e-mail.  

Sandie leads a team of writers in creating the Living It Out daily Bible study for CedarCreek Church. Today's devotion is borrowed from the Living It Out study on HOPE. If you enjoyed it, feel free to check out the daily studies by e-mail or audio podcast by clicking HERE.