After Meeting Jesus
Well, we did it! We read the entire gospel of Luke together last Saturday. Exactly thirty people turned up to experience Luke’s Gospel in this challenging exercise to recapture the Gospel announcement. Have we succeeded? I don’t know but it is my prayer that the days ahead will reveal the Gospel doing its’ work on the hearts of individual men and women and in our community. One thing that I did mention at the conference is that we can’t imagine that we know the gospel now that we have read it through once or twice, or even a dozen times. The Gospels are something to be read and re-read our entire lives. They shape and re-shape us. When we face a struggle with sin in our lives, we need to declare the gospel to ourselves. When our neighbors are struggling with depression and anxiety, they need to hear the gospel. When our children are trying to figure out where their value comes from, the gospel will inform them. Reading the Gospels in large chunks is not just something we should do once in our lives or even once every six months, but rather as a life-long habit. We are some of the most privileged people in the world because we can actually do this easily and without being persecuted for it. We have time and we have Bibles and we won’t be imprisoned or tortured for doing it. This is not the case in many places around the world. We really ought to be doing it. If our country goes to hell in a handbasket, it will be because the Church wasn’t reading, and hence living by, the Gospels.
My take away from this summer’s conference on Luke is a greater awareness of the challenge to take up Jesus’ own way of doing the Kingdom of God and exercising power. I think of the brigand crucified with Jesus, confessing that here in his last hour, his violent way of doing God’s kingdom was not validated by God, but that Jesus’ way of loving His enemies and turning the other cheek and blessing those who persecuted him, was also God’s way. Along with that, the warning that all other ways of doing power and kingdom ultimately lead to our own destruction. What am I seeking in life and how am I seeking to get it? What do I want for my children and how am I going about acquiring it? Am I seeking first the Kingdom of God or am I using God as a covering for my own agenda? The Gospel presents a challenge to all power structures of the world, from the family, to the white house, to the Sheik in the Middle East. God is calling us, through Jesus, to take up our cross and follow Him and to do power His way by becoming the least and the servant of all. After Meeting Jesus, I know what I need next: to meet with Jesus again, which we will in our next Meeting Jesus Conference in January 2018. I find that I really am a lot like Peter, earnestly vowing allegiance to Jesus, but often struggling with the way that looks in reality because it is not what I expected or wanted…but it is good and He is good, so help me God, I will follow.