I recently read through the Gospels while making note of everything Jesus talked about. This was fueled by my growing fatigue of the argumentative rhetoric within our cultural Christianity. Overwhelmed by the myriad of voices and opposing doctrines and opinions I wanted to get back to the basics and listen to what Jesus had to say.
How refreshing this study was! I found I could relate to this man who liked to sit by the sea (Matt 13:1) and I desired to follow closely as He displayed the image of God on earth by proclaiming the kingdom of heaven, healing and loving everyone around Him. (Matt 9:35-37) ”He felt compassion,” was a phrase used multiple times. He was purposely accessible to everyone and His teachings were never complicated or scholarly, but often hard.
He was not threatened or put off by the messiness of broken people- instead He reclined in their dining rooms and had deep, respectful discussions with them. He asked questions and listened. He called sin what it was and offered freedom and grace. Sinners flocked to Him. Only the self righteous had issue, and He had issue with them- His anger flared at the way they blocked the path to God with layers of rules and man made doctrine created to keep the elite in and the ragamuffins out.
I noticed He didn’t argue theology or government (He typically threw that distraction back to the player with a rhetorical question that revealed their heart) but stayed focused on His purpose of proclaiming the kingdom of heaven.
He chose the simple and uneducated to be His disciples and educated them Himself by living, teaching, loving and serving in community. This is encouraging, as I have struggled with feeling intimidated by the complicated vocabulary of theologians and I have spent a lifetime craving community.
I finished with renewed passion and purpose to push aside all things distracting, as good as they might be, and press into walking with Jesus and becoming more like Him. I want to understand His kingdom and walk in it, bring it to where I live. I want to live a simple life with a single purpose- to reflect God’s love like Jesus did. Red Letter Living.