What picture comes to mind when you think of Jesus? What about those who surround you in your every day life? Home? Work? School?
“What picture comes to mind when you think of Jesus?” is a great question to ask people who want nothing to do with religion. Their answer can be enlightening and is worth listening to without a defensive stance. To the culture around us, Jesus takes on various faces and behaviours. To some, Jesus is angry, ready to judge the world in disgust. To some Jesus is political. To others he is a belief system that was forced on them. To some in our nation, Jesus represents colonialism. To some the word “Jesus” makes them think of all that’s wrong with them. Some believe Jesus was a good teacher, ranked alongside Buddha or Mohammed. To others, Jesus is just a word used to express frustration.
Our culture largely associates Jesus with religious Christianity, but this isn’t always a great match. Many people are ok with Jesus and the life he offers, but find the religion of “Christianity” much different, and something to avoid.
We often reflect a Jesus we create in our own image. Politics have made Jesus into a right wing nut. Religious people make Jesus a set of rules and obligations. To others, Jesus has often represented the need to look at how awful we are. Guilt and even shame can be our distorted view of Jesus. Many in today’s culture see Jesus as a measuring stick they will never reach.
The amount of hurt people have experienced with Christianity is vast. The amount of people who have felt forced upon, manipulated, only accepted if they behaved the right way or said the right things. The rejection people have experienced when they don’t is deep and painful. Sometimes traumatic. The times they felt no one walked beside them to help them overcome weakness. The times they were pushed aside or even dismissed by the Christian community.
You pass on only what you know. To pass on the idea of a Jesus who will stop at nothing to pursue us with relentless love means we have to see and experience Him that way first. We can’t pass on what we don’t have. Our beliefs define our speech and actions. Which Jesus do WE really believe in? Do we pass on a God of rich love? We desperately need to receive a revelation and experience God’s love in order to give this to others. We don’t give others the gospel through convincing speech or good arguments. We demonstrate the gospel through loving others with the love of God and representing truth. There needs to be a balance between speaking the truth with love. Some lean towards more truth, and some lean more towards love. We need to lean into Holy Spirit who will tell us what is needed at what time.
In the “When The Dead Live” study, we will be unlearning some of our distorted views of Jesus so we can bring God’s redemption to the world we live in. The book and study is called, “When The Dead Live” because that is exactly what Jesus is about, bringing something that is dead back to life, which Jesus started and finished Himself.
This study is going to help you
know what the gospel really is. Is the gospel really just only:
you were a sinner
Jesus died for you
now you can go to heaven
Is this really God’s best? Or is there so much more? How much has the gospel been cheapened to an individualistic ideal of just getting into heaven? This makes the gospel about us, when the gospel is about what Christ has done. Jesus isn’t interested in having you invite Him in your life, He’s inviting you into His. Jesus is so much more than a guilt remover.
Our culture is crying out for the real truth of the gospel, but many believers are unsure of what it is outside of the 4 spiritual laws, and how to explain in simple enough for anyone to understand. Many times we as believers resort to explaining what my friend Ryan Stockert calls, “Churchianity”. It’s almost become it’s own culture. We are not trying to bring people to “church”, although being a part of community is a part of it. We are pointing people towards liberation through Christ. We get so absorbed in “church” we can forget what the point of the gospel is. We need to bring ourselves back to the pure, simple message of Jesus.
When I’ve been asked to give a summary of the gospel in one sentence: one statement that could disarm someone from their distorted views of Jesus AND sum up the gospel in one quick statement, I say this:
God removed every obstacle to reach you and restore you to Himself.
God pursues us with His rich love. Do we remember what this feels like? Jesus didn’t come to make “bad” people good. In fact, most people feel like they are pretty “good”. “I don’t cheat on my partner”, “I don’t hurt anyone”. Those such as these don’t see Jesus as relevant to their lives but Jesus came to do so much more: He came to make what was dead in us come alive. Someone once said to me, “I was raised by the gospel of fear”. Fear is not a kingdom principal. Jesus fully restores our lives back to the origin He designed without our works. He makes all things new. When you think about it, the gospel really is too good to be true.
Jesus talked about a reality He called The Kingdom of God. This Kingdom is the culture he had in mind from the beginning of time and is the one he dreams of seeing come about. He described it as being here and now among us. He spoke as if God was right here. Jesus clears up the misconceptions of who God is and what his kingdom looks like. The blind see, the lame walk, the dead… live.
My missionary friend Jeremy Postal explains this beautifully. We often think of the gospel as a box: who’s “in” and who’s “out” which is often defined by what we believe, and our behaviour. But the gospel is more like a circle with Jesus in the middle. Someone could be on the far margins of the circle, but when facing Jesus they are on the journey towards him. Our job isn’t to convince them to face the middle. Our job is to point them towards Jesus the source of life and then walk with them towards Jesus starting where THEY are.
When God gave Ezekiel the vision of the valley of the dry bones, he asked Ezekiel if these bones could live? He told Ezekiel to speak to the bones. As he spoke, bones started to miraculously come back together. Tendons and muscles formed. But then they just hung there lifeless. Then God told Ezekiel to prophesy to the BREATH and life came back to the bones and it says they became a vast army.
When we look at today’s culture, God is still asking: Can these bones live? Saying the right things doesn’t bring people back to life: prophesying to the BREATH does. What does that look like? What does that mean? We will be diving deep into this throughout our study.
To pre-order your study, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org