Jesus chooses you

And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he named apostles. Luke 6:13

Out of the hundreds of people following him, Jesus chose a limited number to be apostles. These twelve were the intimate ones to whom he would entrust his teachings and his purpose. They were a varied group of people, different in so many ways, yet necessary for the unity of the Kingdom.

Today, Christ chooses you to be his intimate partner in bringing the good news to the world. Your unique personality, skills and gifts are essential to the team! God needs you, he already has plenty of preachers and youth ministers, but you are the only you God’s got. You may think you don’t add much to the party; maybe James, son of Alphaeus, who was never mentioned again by name in the gospels, or Andrew, who stood in the shadow of his impulsive, flamboyant brother, Simon, felt the same way. But Simon would not have met Jesus if not for Andrew. (see John 1) Are you willing to remain anonymous for the sake of the Kingdom? Is it enough to know Jesus chooses you and uses you in quiet, unnoticed ways?

It could be that who you are and what you bring are an obvious benefit to the Kingdom of Christ. Perhaps, you’re a natural born leader, like Simon; or you bring a good mind and education, like Bartholomew (also known as Nathanael, See John 1); or you have wealth and status, like Matthew (aka Levi). These gifts and talents are useful only when they are submitted to Christ’s authority and contained by the power of the Holy Spirit. How many times did Simon put his foot in his mouth before he was transformed into Peter? What gifts/talents/skills are yours that need to be submitted to the authority of Christ? Do you trust the Spirit or your gifts?

Thomas Merton gives good advice about being part of God’s team for the sake of the Kingdom, “Therefore, if I trust in God’s grace I must also show confidence in the natural powers he has given me, not because they are my powers but because they are his gift.”

There will be people on the Kingdom team, with whom you have differing points of view or opinions. How well do you think Simon, known as the Zealot because he wanted to overthrow the oppressive Roman empire, got along with Matthew, the tax collector, who collaborated with Rome and benefited from the oppression it imposed upon the Jews? Maybe all they had in common was they were chosen by Jesus. How willing are you to set aside opposing beliefs for the sake of peace and unity within the Body of Christ?

What’s in it for me?

Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Luke 6:37,38

“What’s in it for me?” is often the primary concern of humankind. We ask, “How will this proposal benefit me and the ones I love?” Jesus, the wise teacher, understands this part of human nature, so he continues his instruction on becoming his follower with this enticement – You don’t want to be judged or condemned, do you? Then don’t judge or condemn. You want to be forgiven and receive good, don’t you? Then forgive and you’ll receive good things.

Jesus knows us so well, he uses even our selfishness to move us toward the Kingdom.

Jack and I after running the Race for the Cure (I'm a breast cancer survivor)

Jack and I after running the Race for the Cure (I’m a breast cancer survivor)

When I began running, it was with the goal of impressing my fiancee and getting in shape, not a very noble motivation, in fact, very me-centered. Over the years since I began this practice, it’s true, my relational and physical well-being have benefitted, but my motivation has shifted, now I run for the enjoyment and challenge of it. The discipline of running has made me a runner.

Practice not judging or condemning others, even if it’s imperfect in it’s motivation and you will become one who accepts others without condemnation. The more you offer forgiveness and good to others, the greater your capacity to receive forgiveness and recognize goodness.

He also told them a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. Luke 39,40

Bernard of Clairvoux said, “What we love we shall grow to resemble.” Attach yourself to Jesus, let him be your teacher, he will not lead you into a pit. He knows the path and will guide you. Humbly, and imperfectly follow Jesus. Fix your eyes on him, mimic him, ask Jesus to make you “fully qualified and like him.”

Whose legs are you?

Luke 5:17-26

The paralyzed man was not the star of the show, it wasn’t his faith that made a difference. He was merely the means used to display Jesus’ power. The friends were the ones with the faith. When he saw their faith, Jesus said, Friend, your sins are forgiven you.Luke 5:20  What? This isn’t what they were expecting or hoping for. They wanted their friend to be cured. 

Yet, somehow, breaking through the roof demonstrated faith. Faith is a complete trust and confidence in something or someone. Their faith rested on the relationship and love they shared with one another. They would be the legs of this friend, he could count on that.  

This commitment to loving their friend is what impressed Jesus. This man didn’t need physical healing, he would always be carried in love. Jesus instead gave him an inner healing – hope, a sense of belonging to God’s family and a spiritual cleansing. 

***

Then the scribes and Pharisees began to question, Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone? When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is  easier, to say, Your sins are forgiven you, or to say, Stand up and walk?But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins – he said to the one who was paralyzed – I say to you, stand up and take up your bed and go to your  home.Immediately he stood up, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home glorifying God. Luke 5:22-25

The paralytic needed spiritual healing, Jesus gave it. He then offered the scribes what they needed, proof of his authority to forgive sins through his healing power.

Notice the efficiency of God, in offering the scribes what they needed, the paralyzed man received his legs! 

Whose legs are you? Does your faith carry wounded people as you go, just so they won’t be left behind? Who are your legs? Will you trust God to give what is needed, not what you think is needed?

where’s jesus 2

At daybreak Jesus departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowds were looking for him; and when they reached him, they wanted to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.” So he continued proclaiming the message in the synagogues of Judea.   Luke 4:42-44

There are times when Jesus can’t be found and won’t be controlled. The Capernaum townspeople went searching for Jesus the morning after all the miracles, they had a plan for what he should do next! Do you have an expectation of what God should do in your life? An idea of what would be the best thing to happen in your future? Such demands blind you to Jesus’ purposes. This is a form of doubt. If you can’t find Jesus where you’ve found him in the past; if it seems as if God has withdrawn his kindness and presence, stop your striving and give thanks for your salvation. Will you trust his goodness?

Will you listen to love?

Demons also came out of many, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Messiah. Luke 4:41

 

There are times when Jesus’ voice addresses the death-dealing powers operating in the world and in people. The demons departed from the oppressed people of Capernaum at Jesus’ command; his rebuke silenced them. Evil forces are at work in your life, their intention is to separate you from God’s love. They mimic your own voice with their accusations, speak lies into your soul, arouse doubts about God’s character; and you believe them! This is a form of idolatry. God’s voice is the only one you should heed, it speaks of love, dignity, justice and goodness. Will you listen to love?

Are you spiritually diseased?

As the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various kinds of diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on each of them and cured them. Luke 4:40

There are times when Jesus’ touch cures the sick and diseased, as it did in Capernaum. Jesus personally touched the people who were weak and feeble; those who were without strength or power to help themselves felt Jesus’ hand upon them. Where in your life have you given up hope of ever experiencing health? Do you have habitual thoughts or actions that seem impossible to overcome? This is a form of despair. Jesus knows the exact nature of your distress. His nail-scarred hands touch your discouraged heart. Will you receive his power?

Do you have a spiritual fever?

After leaving the synagogue he entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked him about her. Then he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately she got up and began to serve them.   Luke 4:38,39

There are times when Jesus stands near, like he did over Simon’s mother-in-law, who was suffering from a fever that kept her bedridden. A fever is a body’s attempt to fight off an infection, a way to heal itself. Do you have a fever of the spiritual variety? How do you attempt to fight your own fights; depend on your own strength or will power to overcome things that keep you out of commission? This is a form of pride. Jesus stands near you, saying, “Let go of your self effort, let me come close and let’s work together to deal with this circumstance.” Will you trust his nearness?