Feb. 3, 2012
Question-When people know you are a believer and follower of Jesus, what is their reaction toward you? Do they immediately flock to you? Do they turn and go the other way? Do they just nod in somewhat of approval but seem tentative? Do they say, “Cool, me too. Now, what did you think of that thunderstorm yesterday…?”
In reading Mark 6, which is jam packed with stories and incidents, there is wide range of reactions toward Jesus. For time and brevity, I will not touch all in this blog but want to hit a few. Here is a quick snapshot of all that Mark records. Jesus is rejected in his home town of Nazareth, he sends his disciples in groups of two on their first mission trip, Jesus’ cousin-John-is assassinated, the disciples return and after a long day of Jesus teaching thousands of people-he again miraculously feeds them all, he walks on water during a storm and then calms it, he heals hundreds of people that flock to him on the other side of the lake. Imagine just for a moment the wide range of emotion from Jesus and his disciples in these various experiences and encounters.
Back to my original question, how do people respond to you when they know you are a believer and follower?
The start of Mark is Jesus being rejected by many of those who knew him growing up; they question his Divinity. How can a commoner, someone from Nazareth, do any good? Be any good? Their lack of belief and faith limit Jesus’ ability to serve them…subsequently, He leaves. Interesting. Fast forward to the end of the chapter and the picture is radically opposite. He teaches thousands of people for long hours and then his compassion sets up for a miraculous feeding and demonstration of God’s supernatural provision. Later in the evening, after journeying across the lake- He meets a crowd who upon learning that it is Jesus-rush to grab family and friends because they believe Jesus can and will heal them. Incidentally, he also terrified and freaked out his disciples by walking past them on the water in the center of a raging squall.
Again, there are several directions you can go with these passages so the one area that caught my attention is that Jesus lived out the commands we would later give in Matthew 25 when he tells the infamous story of the sheep and the goats and the judging of nations. Jesus healed the sick, fed the hungry, gave water, provided shelter, clothed some naked men, and visited those in prison- the same commands he would leave for us and how we are to be judged. Right belief is found in right action. Faithful belief is found in faithful action. (check out James).
Are people repelled by our faith or are they drawn to us? Do we have a serious image crisis as our friend Shane Claiborne contends? No great insights here. Each one of us must answer that question in our way. But, people came to Jesus because they were being reminded that our God in heaven really cares about them (and us). Jesus was teaching just as much as He was providing for the physical needs of those around Him. Our lack of belief and faith has diminished our ability to heal and provide the way Jesus did. I contend that if we too are driven back to our own knees, care about people as Jesus cared about them- physically, spiritually, and emotionally-then we might be helping more people experience and enter into the Kingdom of God. But if we rely on our rhetoric, a set of do’ and don’ts with no compassion and expression of love…if we talk but have no faith…then I fear people will continue to be turned off by us and realize we have very little to offer them. And to be fair, if we just give a bit of charity without the teaching that Jesus also embraced, we miss the mark here as well. We weaken Jesus and the power of God by our own lack of belief and faith. Another question. If you renounced your faith right now, how would it change you and how would life be different for you?
So…are we willing to let people know we are a follower and why we follow? Are we willing to enter into their world and love fully? Will the Christ in us draw them to want to know and follow Christ for themselves?