For this week’s Monday Minute, Muriel shares with us what God has been teaching her about how He created us for community as she studied the heart of Jesus.
The Heart Of Jesus: Unconditional, Challenging, Unparalleled
by Muriel Gregory
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I found myself a few years ago in front of two roads. Continuing my life the way I had been living it or making a radical change. This awareness came about after reading the book Radical by David Platt. If you have read it, I am sure it challenged you, too. If not, read it at your own risk!
Until that point, I had been living a pretty healthy Christian life: church, Bible studies, volunteer work in some capacities. To all who asked, I did call myself a Christian. I believed in Jesus and the tenets of the faith.
Yet, I knew something was missing.
After reading that book, I picked up my Bible and read through the gospel through a different lens. I dug in a little deeper and invited Jesus to teach me. The first discovery I made was that the call of Jesus was not to believe in him and go to heaven. The call of Jesus is to follow him (Mark 1:16-20; Mark 2:13-14). When he walked along the shore of the sea of Galilee, Jesus invited them to a higher calling.
The sermon on the mount is the ultimate teaching of Jesus. It starts with a stern warning:
“Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven but whoever does them and teaches others to do the same will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 5:19 ESV
It also concludes with a strong warning:
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.”
Matthew 7:24-26 ESV
The Greek word for “does” is poieomai. It means to do, to perform, to carry out. It’s not about trying; it is about training.
We all can agree that you do not become a soldier, airmen, sailor, or marine the day you sign the contract. Training is involved and assessments are made. You either reach the standard, or you go home. Nobody wants an untrained service member on the battlefield.
The same concept applies to our Christian walk. God trains and assesses.
Did you know that 76% of Americans consider themselves Christians? More interestingly, did you know that only 8% consider themselves followers of Jesus?
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches.
Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
John 15:1-8 ESV
Here are three practices from the heart of Jesus to focus on this year as we strive to become followers who live, as God created us to, in community.
- Be with Jesus.
Abiding in Jesus means to be in a constant state of awareness and connection to the spirit. Dallas Willard put it best, “practicing the presence of God is to direct and redirect our minds constantly to him.”
- Become like Jesus.
The character of Jesus permeates our spiritual formation. Who is currently forming you? What are you becoming? If we are not intentional about it, we will be molded by society. Choose Jesus to transform you.
- Do what Jesus did.
Let the rubber meet the road. I can read all the books and manuals on how to shoot a handgun, but if I never shoot one, I am useless. Following Jesus is not a hobby. It needs to be the focal point of our lives.
Allow yourself to dream of a world where Christians become followers of Jesus. Dream and take the first step to become a disciple. Do it in community. Let’s grow together this year.
Read “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” Matthew 28:18-20
Reflect What two commands did Jesus give us, his disciples? What promise did he also make? Where has Jesus sent you? How has he equipped you?
Respond What simple steps can you take where you are, with what you have, to fulfill the great commission where Jesus sent you?
Lord, I thank you for the perfect example Jesus set for us. I pray that I will continue to be a follower, that I would not aim to gain the whole world and lose my soul. Amen.
Matthew Chapters 5, 6, and 7 known as the Sermon on the Mount
For more on this year’s theme of Growing Together, check out our Theme Kick Off post by our Director, Kori Yates.