What Will Jesus Do?

A colleague shared this week a new riff on the popular 90's slogan, What Would Jesus Do. He says he doesn't ask "What would Jesus do in this situation," but instead "What will Jesus do?" I like this.

I realize I have long felt discomfort with the slogan "What Would Jesus Do?" Yes, in part because I don't want to become a radical disciple, like the slogan might suggest. But also I don't like the impression I see in the slogan that Jesus is simply a model for how we ought to live, a standard of behavior. Jesus did what he did to change us, to renew us. We cannot just will to do what Jesus did. We need Jesus to come into our lives and make us the people that will do what He did. I believe we still need that day by day even after years of being in the church.

In my Father's house

We often encourage ourselves with Jesus words in John 14. "In my Father's house are many rooms," (John 14:2). "Think of all those rooms," we say, "think of all the time the Father has taken to prepare a place for us. Won't it be grand?"

I think it will be grand, but I suspect looking forward to the architecture misses the main point. The other day I thought of John's words: "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." I more often anticipate who I'll meet in heaven rather than what the houses might be like. But surely, of all the people I might meet, the most fascinating, most awe inspiring one is God himself -- the one who has done and said so many things that the earth could not contain the books. And who continues to do awesome and wonderful things.

I went walking one evening, and felt caught up in wonder. I'm going to meet God. Surely that is the great and awesome thing to look forward to. The thing that will make the struggles and messes and confusion of this life pale in comparison. Yes, remember the promises. Remember the good news. God is with us and abides with us.

Update:  Our pastor preached on this passage yesterday. He says the common understanding of this verse as promising each of us our own mansion in heaven is a misunderstanding of the text. The image from the culture of Jesus' day is a large extended family all living in the same dwelling -- when a son or daughter gets married, they get a larger room in the big house for their growing family. It is one house, the Father's house, and Jesus prepares a room in it for each of us. So the focus in the text is on our relationship with God, coming home to the big house where we have our room..

The Power of Grace: Can God really use that guy?

These days I've felt blah. I've been tempted to doubt God's promises. If God really wants to make me new, write the law on my heart, why am I still so mediocre? I woke up this morning with thoughts like this, and reminded myself I need to keep believing in the covenant making and covenant keeping God.

Then I go browse my Feedly list. And there's a blog post called The Power of Grace. Oddly, it's from that guy I've been thinking I could drop from my feed. First, his links are almost all videos. I like blog posts that are texts. Dare I say I like my blog posts the old fashioned way, ones I can read not listen to? Second, and more seriously, the guy is the local scandal of this week.

I'm curious so I click on the link. I'm pleased it isn't a link to a video, and I start reading.
When it comes to grace, people usually go wrong in one of two ways. We either think that we’re too far gone for it and dismiss it.
Or we take it for granted and abuse it.
They both view grace as weakness.
Grace is power. It is power to save and to transform. To cover all of our sins  and remove them from our lives. To get you off the hook and to get you into the zone of transformation.
Grace isn’t just a cheap perfume you splash on to cover the stench of your sins. It’s the power to change your life from the inside out.
It felt like God speaking through the page to say "Yes, do keep trusting in me. I can change you." And I respond, "But God. Why are you using the guy building himself a 1.8 million dollar house to tell me this?" In my mind's eye I see a knowing look from God, and I answer my own question. "Right. You use imperfect people. I'm supposed to know that. Thanks for the reminder. I really am glad you do."

I read Steven Furtick's blog post again. Grace is the power to change. Grace is looking into the reality of my life, and not being dismayed when the forces of evil and the forces of mediocrity look like giants. Not being dismayed because I often don't really want to change. But God promises change. And I should believe his promises.

And I'm reminded to pray for Steven Furtick. The 1.8 million dollar house still feels suspect to me, but I think he is serving the Lord and speaking the truth. May his ministry continue. May God's wisdom speak to his heart and lead him to change his mind if building that house isn't the best use of his income.

Brother Furtick, if you read this, I do want to bless you. You've blessed me with your blog posts. Not just yesterday's blog post, you've had other good ones over the years.  This one and this one are the main reasons I added you to my Google Reader some years back. I pray that God continues to bless you, and Elevation. May He keep using you to speak of grace and truth, and may He keep guiding you in your private and public life to model that grace and truth.

May we all keep on believing in God's grace, the power to get us off the hook and into the zone of transformation.

Reasons why we don't pray more about our problems

  1. We're not sure God's really there. Or if he is there, is he close enough to care?
  2. We don't want to change.
  3. We think we should have changed already, so we're on our own until we "catch up."
  4. The issue facing us feels too big for God to handle.
  5. The issue facing us feels too small for God to care about.
  6. The issue is not our fault. It's "those people" who should do differently.
  7. Since God hasn't fixed this already, we think he does not want to do anything about it.
Which one comes up in your thoughts?

For me, it is probably #7. But Jesus reminded us that we need to be persistent in prayer. 
"Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up."

Andrew Murray on the New Covenant

I started reading an old book the other day, Two Covenants by Andrew Murray.

He says if the New Covenant is to be better than the Old, it has to provide for man's obedience. "The New Covenant provides a guarantee, not only for God’s faithfulness, but for man’s too! And this in no other way than by God Himself undertaking to secure man’s part as well as His own."

This reminds me of what I'd thought and written about the New Covenant in Covenant of Hope. The old covenant failed because we couldn't keep it. "Do these things and you will live" is not enough. We need God to do in us what we cannot do in ourselves. 

Business class and the hope of heaven

Last week it happened:  upgraded to business class for a nine hour flight across the Atlantic. Wonderful seats -- fifteen or twenty different adjustment points, enough legroom that my feet only gently contacted the edge of my own space, I could even lie almost flat if I wanted to sleep. A personal video screen probably larger than the screen of my laptop, and fully touch sensitive as well. A four course meal, or should I say five course? The ice cream sundae and the fruit and cheese were served all together, but wouldn't that count as more than one course?

Around the sixth or seventh hour, I still felt as enchanted as when we'd started, and I even felt a mild regret that the flight was not longer. This morning it is still pleasant to remember -- I think of C. S. Lewis' comment that the great desire we have for things to go on forever in our lives shows that we were meant for something more than a temporal, limited life. This pleasure suggests I was not meant to be jammed into a narrow seat row for hours at a time -- what a startling thought!

This could be my favorite air travel story for years to come. It is a story that does not center around conflict, like most stories do in our world. Should there a literary genre of people experiencing conditions so much better than they are used to, and celebrating this? Is this the stories we shall experience in heaven?

But really heaven is not about comfort or architecture (as impressive as those may be). It is primarily about seeing God. The intangible God hidden from view. God with us, yes, but it requires our faith, our ability to cling to a truth despite what our immediate perceptions would tell us. In heaven, faith will become sight. Then we shall see him face to face, and when he appears we will be like him.