The Program is Jesus

As Christians, our calling is to make Jesus visible by reflecting Him into the world. So just like Jesus, we should want to live for other people. We should look at the least among us and say, “I’m going to live to provide for you.”

We need to build up struggling communities, in the US and outside of it. We need to help them become self-sustaining. No one should ever be so poor that they have to sell their kids. Children should not have to take jobs that put them at risk. Imagine a 10 year-old trying to sell gum on the street corner to get money for food, only to be grabbed and sold as a slave. What are they going to do? They’re 10! They’re not strong. They’re scared!

I want to provide opportunities. But I can’t save the world. I’m one person. This is what the Church needs to be doing.

Churches need to expand their focus. It’s okay to focus on building projects. There’s nothing wrong with 5,000-member cathedrals. Some of them have the best sound systems and the coolest giant screens. I’ve visited churches that are up on the best technology possible to run their Sunday programs. And these are great programs!

What happens when someone approaches one of the pastors and says, “You have so much influence here. Will you mobilize your congregation to work on fighting against the traffickers?

I’ve done this, and the answer has been, “No, it’s not one of our programs.”

What? It’s not one of your programs?

Well, I’ve thought about this. And you know what? These pastors are right. Fighting trafficking is not one of the Church’s “programs.” Fighting trafficking is Jesus. Jesus is the vision. Jesus is the one and only “program.”

Sometimes the answer has been,”Well, we’re trying to raise money for our sound system so we can have better acoustics.” Or, “We’ve got this nice sound system, but we’ve got other different types of programs. We’re trying to help our congregation become better people.”

Do you know what’s going to help your congregation become better people? Help them do Jesus. Key in on what’s going on in your towns and cities, and in the world, and live Jesus!

Now I’m not saying that if you don’t choose to fight human trafficking, then you’re not Jesus. I’m saying there are a lot of issues going on out there, beyond the bounds of our suburbs. When did your community become the only one you care about? “Well, I’m called to this suburb.” What? No! You’re called to live like Jesus!

How about using your resources to bring your community into the fight against human trafficking? How about mobilizing your congregation to participate in hunger initiatives? Why not work to build wells? You obviously have great resources. Why not use them to create sustainability for people who are trapped by poverty? Set the captives free!

This is what the Church is called to do. We’re called to represent Jesus, who healed the sick. We’re called to represent Jesus, who set the captives free. We’re called to represent Jesus, who fought for truth. Truth sets people free! We have got to do Jesus in the world.

I’m not shaming you for your beautiful building, your 5,000 people, and your state-of-the-art sound system. It’s great! It means you have awesome resources! I’m just asking you to utilize these resources to make Jesus visible by doing what He did. Your congregation has built this church for you because they respect your voice. Mobilize them to fight for freedom, healing, and sustainability. That’s the program. Jesus.

There have been times when I’ve asked congregations to join in the fight to end human trafficking, and they have actually said, in so many words, “No, it’s not part of our program.” But that is changing. More and more, churches are getting involved.

More on this next time. See you Monday.

Kingdom Dialogue

Kingdom theology invites us to think about what it’s like to be in the family of the King of Kings. So let’s think about it. When the king — your Dad — says, “I need you to go out and do something for me,” you go out and do it!

I want to go out there. I want to leave the Kingdom walls. I want to bring the aroma of Christ to everybody. If God asks me to go out and provide clean water for people, I want to go! I want to go so that I can bring clean water. I want to love my neighbor as myself. Love connects, and I want to connect with people. I want to talk with them. I want dialogue.

I want to say, “Look, I see you need water. I want to give it to you.” That starts the conversation. That opens the door to dialogue. And when they ask me why I’m helping them, I’ll get to say, “Because I love you.” They’ll ask me,”Why do you love me? You don’t even know me!” And that’s when I’ll get to say, “I love you because of God. The one I call my Dad. He loves you! He loves everybody! He loves humanity. So here I am. I’m here for you, and I’m going to love on you.”

When I see people who can’t eat, I’m going to help provide food. They might ask me, ”How are you going to feed us?” And that’s when I’ll get to say, ”I’m going to ask God, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He commands everything, and He will help me get food to you. He will give me the right food program. He will help me involve people — hundreds of people — in making packages of food for you. They love you too! And even if He doesn’t give me a program, He will still help me feed you. He’s going to allow me to take two loaves and a fish and feed all of you with it. He does all of this because He loves you, and I love you because He loves you.

“And when you’ve eaten, and your children are healthy because their water doesn’t make them sick, then I’m going to tell you why He loves you. When you can trust my voice, I’m going to tell you what it means that He loves you. And I’m going to invite you to come and be a part of His family, in His Kingdom.”

When I get sent out from the Kingdom of Heaven, to enter the world in order to serve, and to heal, and to dialogue, that’s joy, man. That’s joy, even though it’s not always easy. More on this next time. See you Monday.

Relationships, Not Rewards

Christians are called to love. To love like Jesus requires grace! As I reflected last time, loving like Jesus means loving and giving and sacrificing with no thought of the reward. Jesus died for us without calculating a reward. He knew that a lot of people would forget Him, or not return His love. But He died for us anyway. And He freed us from the bounds and obligations of law! Now we live in grace, filled with His Spirit. And by His Spirit, we love our neighbors like He loved us.

When I help somebody out, I do it because I love them. I don’t do it so that I can get right with God by scoring charity points. I don’t need to! Jesus already got us right with God. Continue reading

Satisfy Your Soul

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We did not choose to be born in America. We could have been born in Uganda or Haiti. Imagine that! I respect that I was born in America.

But we weren’t born here because we’re lucky. We were born here because we are blessed.

We are blessed to be born in a country where we have freedom and prosperity. We are blessed to have the opportunities that freedom and prosperity make possible. I know some people think we’re not prosperous. We hear a lot of concern about the economic crisis. But unless you’re making less than four dollars a day, you’re making more than 90% of people in the world. Continue reading