In his most recent book, Follow Me, David Platt makes the following statement:
As we turn to Jesus, he transforms us. As we die to ourselves, we live in him. He gives us a new heart – cleansed of sin and filled with his Spirit. He gives us a new mind – an entirely new way of thinking. He gives us new desires – an entirely new sense of longing. And he gives us a new will – an entirely new way of living.
Summation: when someone encounters Jesus, the game is changed. We begin to live for a new purpose. We put on the lenses of Jesus.
As American Evangelicals, we must constantly fight this dichotomy between the American mantra of comfort and security and the Christian mantra of sacrifice and persecution. Unfortunately, the American mantra often wins out. And let’s be clear, as long as the “comfort and security” mentality is prevailing, the Kingdom is not going to advance. Following Jesus and allowing Him to permeate every area of our life pushes back against everything this country instills in us. For example, this culture teaches us to believe whatever we would like, but do not share your belief with others. Yet, we see at the end of the gospel of Matthew, the command from Jesus to go into every nation and make disciples. American culture: keep your faith to yourself….Jesus: share your faith with every person you contact on a daily basis. Chances are most of us know if we are living for Jesus, but in case you are wondering, here are five indicators that you might not have on the lenses of Jesus.
1.) You associate with people that look and act and talk just like you…Jesus was notorious for hanging out with tax collectors (reviled during Jesus’s day) and prostitutes. How many non-Christians and sinners do you associate with? He did not establish relationships with just the righteous. Even his apostles were probably not the people I would have chosen. He had fishermen and even a tax collector. I would have chosen Bible scholars and gifted speakers. If we are going to be Jesus, we need to spend time with people that do not look, act, or talk like us.
2.) You view people that cross your path throughout the day as a hindrance to your schedule and not as an opportunity to spread the love of Jesus…too many people give priority to their schedule or their own idea for how their day should play out instead of taking advantage of opportunities to share Jesus with others. I really struggle with this because I am a task-oriented person, so if I am in the midst of completing a task, it often takes priority over everything else. The problem is when I decided to follow Jesus, He took priority over my schedule. Do not get so caught up in life and tasks that you fail to see someone in need.
3.) You only invest in people who can give you something in return…this is self-explanatory. If you do not have relationships with people that have nothing to offer you, it is time to do some introspection. Remember, Jesus left the majesty of heaven and died on a cross for you. There is nothing you could offer him in return for that amazing gift.
4.) You constantly make statements such as, “I never have opportunities to share Jesus with others,” or “I am just too busy to notice people who might need Jesus.”…this indicates that your life is too wrapped up in yourself or your job or whatever you want to use to fill in the blank other than Jesus. Someone who is wearing the lenses of Jesus inspects EVERY situation to see whether God might be placing someone in their path. What about the cashier at the gas station? What about the waiter at the restaurant? What about the parents on your child’s soccer/softball/baseball/whatever other team? What about the people that live right beside you in your neighborhood? Opportunities abound, but you need to reorient your priorities.
5.) You refuse to help others because you do not think you are good enough…and you would be right about the good enough part. By yourself, the advancement of the Kingdom is going to be tough (this is an example of an understatement, which means it is impossible to do this by yourself). But when someone encounters Jesus, the Spirit begins to penetrate your heart and mind. Paul makes it clear in I Timothy that the Spirit we have is not one that operates out of fear. And you might not have the words to say, but remember God brings people into a relationship with him, not you. So, if the Spirit is working through you, and you are not responsible for drawing people to God, remind me what you are scared of again? Let us also not forget when you killed your old self through baptism, your “comfort zone” was included.
Putting on the lenses of Jesus is a daily, maybe even hourly, decision. I can attest to the five statements above because I personally struggle with all of them. I must constantly remember Jesus is the center of my life, and when I became a follower of Him, I killed the comfort and security mentality. Maybe you need to do the same.
I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!