Imagine baking a cake and only using half of the prescribed ingredients. Imagine building a car and using only half of the needed parts. Imagine building a house and only using half of the lumber needed to build the house properly. No one in their right mind would ever expect that cake, or that car, or that house to turn out right…right?
But what if we do that with our Christian faith? What if we have the same approach toward being a follower of Jesus? What if we leave out half of the equation?
When Jesus came into the world, He came as a Man on a mission. His mission was clear and straightforward and He repeated it everywhere He went. “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)
There are two distinct components to His message. The first part is "REPENT" – which literally means ‘change’. That is the first part of the gospel – we all need to change. The Samaritan woman needed to change. Zacchaeus needed to change. The Pharisees, the disciples, the rich people, the poor people, the sinners and the righteous. Every single person that Jesus met needed to change in some way and Jesus made sure to let them know.
But that’s only the first part. The 2nd is this: “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
What does that mean?
It means that after Jesus called people to change their lives, He then called them to advance the kingdom of God and its mission on earth. He called them to be soldiers and active participants in the war between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. In short, He called them change the world.
What did the Samaritan woman do as soon as she repented and believed in Jesus? “The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (John 4:28-29)
What did Zacchaeus do after He believed and repented? "Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” (Luke 19:8)
What did Paul do after he repented and discovered the truth about God? "Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God." (Acts 9:20)
The list goes on and on - with thousands more throughout history. Jesus met them somewhere in their life, He changed their lives forever and then they went out and changed the world forever as well. The two always went hand in hand – first change your life, then change the world.
How about you? Are you missing some of the gospel’s ingredients in your life? Who or what are you living for outside of yourself?
The majority of the people in this world don’t look much beyond themselves and their own lives. We tend to care about our own well-being and when see others in need, we tend to find ourselves like the priest and the Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan – standing far away and just thanking God that it isn’t us.
“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.” (Luke 10:30-32)
IS THAT THE GOSPEL OF JESUS???
It’s time that we – the followers of Christ – began acting more like our Master. He lived His entire life as a sacrifice for others. He never shied away from helping someone in need – whether that need was physical or emotional or spiritual. He never backed down in the face of a crisis but always went the extra mile to help those in need – especially for those who couldn’t help themselves. He didn’t care what people would say or how people would look at Him.
The only thing He cared about what one thing: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 6:38)
For discussion: how about you? Is there something missing in your Christianity?