Saturday, April 18, 2015

I Want To Be Like Jesus

We had a guest speaker at our church recently who said some things about evangelism that struck home to me in a new way.

I’ve always heard that as Christians, we should be like Jesus. Well, who can argue with that? We should be like Jesus, more holy, more righteous. Certainly, that’s true. We should try to live more the way God teaches us in his word.

But on this day, we studied a different way that we should be like Jesus. The speaker used Luke chapter 15 to talk about God’s love and grace. She said this probably has one of the nicest things ever said about Jesus, even though that’s not how it was intended.

Luke 15:1-2: “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

I thank God that Jesus welcomes sinners and eats with them. Including me.

Our guest speaker talked about how people who were lost, people who were the worst sinners, were the ones who loved to be around Jesus. They saw in him the love and concern they needed.

Often I have not found myself the kind of person who draws people to Jesus. I may be too preachy, or as one girl said about me in college, “Kathy is really righteous, isn’t she?”

She did not mean it as a compliment. I was self righteous. I was judgmental. Of course, there are truths in the Bible which we need to stick to and teach to people as they grow as Christians. But it is not our job to teach the lost to obey morals as we see them. It is our job to teach people that Jesus loves them and wants to heal their brokenness.

In the later part of Luke 15, we read the story of the lost son and his older brother who needed a changed heart. At different times in my life, I’ve seen myself as very like both of these brothers.

The younger son took his inheritance and left home to spend it on sinful living. When he had lost all his money and had no one and nothing, he decided to humble himself and go back to serve his father.

But the father was watching for him. While the son was still a long way off, the father saw him and ran to him, embracing him and welcoming him back as his son.

Luke 15:20-24: “So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

This is how I want to show God’s love to people. I want to hurt as they hurt, care about what is on their minds, show them a father who wants them as his children.

I’ve often seen myself as like the older brother in this story. Here they were celebrating with the one who’d turned his back on his father and wasted his inheritance. The older brother said that he’d stayed home and served the father, but his father had never let him have a party. But the father lovingly explained to the older brother how their family really worked.

Luke 15:25,28-32 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. … The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Yes, the father celebrated because the lost brother had come home. But he explained to the older brother that he was just as important. Everything that belonged to the father belonged to him.

I want to be like Jesus. I want to be someone who shows God’s love, his grace, his compassion for anyone who hurts—so much that he watches for them while they are far away. I want to be part of the party when they come home.

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