I was watching the news last night and on my way there came across a news channel where the president of an atheist organization was advocating that Christians shouldn’t be allowed to celebrate Christmas in America as the exclusive focus of the ‘holiday season’. We’re going to witness a rise in these challenges until we who follow Jesus (not just believe in him) are willing to bear witness to the unique revelation of God He brings – whatever the cost. I’m not meaning that we become another bible-thrashing negative voice; I’m talking about being salt and light in a broken world and demonstrating the love and power of Jesus by healing, forgiveness, courage, restoration, and supernatural grace. The vast majority of Christians cherry-pick what they like and ignore the rest… which means stabbing each other in the back, bearing resentments, justifying attitudes Jesus would never endorse, and demonstrating very little that is different from the world in which we live. Sometimes the lifestyle in the church is enough to make anyone cast a glance over at atheism as an alternative….. whenever that is my temptation I turn back to Jesus….. and He reminds me of what I can so easily lose sight of when I look at others rather than stay focused on him.
As we approach Christmas and the celebration of God birthed among His creation in human form I’m reminded again of the uniqueness of Christianity alongside other world religions. I’m always saying, “Nowhere else in history is there such a clear revelation of God as is found in the person of Jesus Christ – his life, miracles, death and resurrection.” His teaching and character is intertwined with his identity and his unequivocal claim to be God; “If you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father.” Other religions brush Jesus aside or push him back in line with many other prophets and holy men such as Mohammed, Buddha, Krishna, Abraham or a multitude of other pretenders to the throne.
Jesus refused to allow the opinions and agendas of those around him to define him or his mission. In fact it was because he insisted on courageously not conforming and stepping out of line that he was eventually crucified outside Jerusalem on a hill named Golgotha. He’s never been politically correct or intimidated by threats of any kind. That’s what impresses me and why I’m proud to be one of his disciples in the 21st century. I’m impressed with his uncompromising commitment to truthfulness rather than popularity or expediency, and how he was willing to suffer rather than back down or waver. In fact he defined truth as rooted in himself – truth is a person.
I’m impressed with his patience that enabled him to wait in the wings for thirty years before his father released him into public ministry. So many today can’t wait to be noticed and attain to the high places in careers or ministry. Jesus patiently trusted his father with the timing because his entire life was about submission, serving, and following his father’s agenda and heartbeat. Later he would pass that value on to his disciples encouraging them to learn to abide in his father’s love much as branches are grafted into grapevines.
I’m impressed by Jesus’ easy interaction with people from all walks of life without display of favoritism or prejudice. He was a friend to the broken, the lonely, the intellects, leaders, and those who clung to the frayed edges of society as outcasts. His compassion was unlimited; always willing to be interrupted by the ones whom most others walked past without sparing a glance or a thought.
I’m impressed by Jesus’ bold and risky faith that led him to walk on water, summon Lazarus from death to life, and believe in Simon Peter long before he understood the calling on his life. If anyone was naturally supernatural it was Jesus. He refused to posture or perform miracles for the impression they’d make or to enhance his reputation. Every miraculous event was a response to an obvious need where a person was crippled, bound, or infirmed and needed to be set free.
I’m impressed by the love and loyalty Jesus displayed to his disciples whom he called his friends. He entrusted his mother into the care of one of them, he responded to the genuine doubts and struggles of Thomas after the resurrection. He went out of his way to draw alongside a despondent and broken Peter when he failed to live up to his own boasting. He welcomed disreputable women like Mary into his entourage where she found a new identity, deliverance and healing. He washed all of their feet as he faced death and the brutal trauma of crucifixion. He loved unconditionally.
I’m impressed and humbled to the point of tears that Jesus reached out to me, never gave up on me, and had time to drape his arm across my shoulders and encourage me with love and acceptance. I’m so impressed and grateful. All I can do is say thank you as I ask him to make me more like he is – on earth as in heaven – making room in my heart for impressed to release action.
That’s why I love Peter Furler’s passion to sing about Jesus…. Listen to what he says and then how he sings and let God ignite your heart……