As we continue in this season of rest and reflection, let us contemplate the life and work of Jesus.
Jesus was a masterful leader. He was intentional. Purposeful.
When we think of his influence, and how his message continues to grow thousands of years and billions of followers later, we are in awe because he did not do the successful, popular or inspiring things. He did not seek fame. He did not lord his power over others or try to establish an empire on earth. He did not have social media or the benefits of technology.
Jesus was true to his teachings, even when it was difficult for his audience to hear:
“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:37).
“Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead” (Matt. 8:22).
“Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).
Simply put, Jesus did not go big. On the contrary, oftentimes when he had a large crowd or performed a miracle, he drew away for times of rest.
In those sacred moments, Jesus taught his disciples the truths about the kingdom of God, and informed them of the purpose to which they were called.
As we enter the beautiful season of Advent and remembering, I wanted to share a couple of pieces that I have written this year about the good news and miracle work that only Jesus can accomplish. We begin with this piece about God’s great redemption story!
Who doesn’t love a great story? From the time we are children, we learn of villains and heroes, evil witches and helpless princesses. We learn about good and evil in this world. In the end, we anticipate and eagerly await the victory. We all want good to win.
As we think about our common humanity in a world that is becoming increasingly more polarized, it is important that we remember the most important story. It begins, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). The story that starts in a garden culminates with the promise of the protagonist’s return, and the realization of a new heaven and a new earth. “Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen” (Rev. 22:20–21).
Our country has spent the past few days mourning the deaths of Aretha Frankin, The Queen of Soul, and Senator John McCain, the Maverick.
It is befitting during times of mourning that we ponder the inescapable question:
Do I have something to die for?
This year marks the 50-year anniversary of the assassination of preacher and civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Although this man is most known for his dream—the one he delivered to approximately 250,000 people, the dream that continues to live as a breathing document of hope today—the speech that best captures his life and ministry was given on the night before he was slain. It was titled “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” and in it he stated, “If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”
In his sermon “The Drum Major Instinct,” given at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, he told hearers the way he wanted to be remembered. He wanted people to know that he tried to give his life serving others, loving others, being right about the violence of war, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and visiting the imprisoned. Living an other-centered life is why his words still resonate with us 50 years later.