Thursday, November 11, 2010



In the last few weeks I've been in some fascinating meetings where I've experienced the ugly tension of Christians fighting Christians over things that don't matter. Oh, I know each side believes the issue matters, but when the name of Jesus or acceptance of Jesus is at stake all things are secondary and insignificant. If you hold anything-any teaching or tradition or belief system-higher than lifting up the person of Jesus to another person, then you are not following Jesus, but you're following that "anything" you placed above Him.

When I see this kind of in-fighting over insignificant things, I am reminded of one of the many instances where Jesus pulled off a clear miracle from God, yet the religious moved into a fighting, even hateful. Here's what happened: Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, "Stand up in front of everyone." Then Jesus asked them, "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. Mark 3:1-6

A man has obviously been healed. He's experienced a supernatural touch from God, yet the grumbling begins. This is no different today. There are many followers of Jesus who have observed Jesus apprehending the hearts and minds of men and women in other cultures and as they follow Jesus they don't plant churches and don't call themselves Christians. It's a real phenomenon! It's an authentic Jesus movement breaking out without looking and sounding Christian, yet there is no doubt these masses of people have been touched by Jesus Himself.

I have been aware of this for several years. It's a wonderful thing! Now, there are Christians who are organizing themselves against this kind of thing. They say that this movement is invalid and non-biblical, because they aren't planted into churches and they are not becoming Christians. This anti-movement is doing its best to cut off the supply of funds for those who are promoting this non-traditional Jesus movement. They are even gathering in conferences and events to do so! How sick and wrong is this?

It seems to me that the bottom line issue is to discover the absolute essentials for us to believe and hold sacred so that we will advance the Jesus movement? What is it that we can all agree upon in the midst of our various disagreements? How can we walk together, even though our cultural beliefs and traditions greatly differ?

I have a friend who is from a Church of Christ background and is still enjoying fellowship in that tradition. We agree that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, but we disagree about whether baptism is required for man's salvation. I have several Catholic friends who do things in their services that I just don't understand and I usually feel very lost as I attend a Mass. On the other hand, when they attend my traditional church service, they don't believe they have gone to church, but to a seminar. As followers of Jesus we can agree that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, even though we disagree how a church service ought to be conducted. This same thinking can be taken through every flavor of Christianity as well as within the non-Christian religious cultures. We can find agreement in Jesus, even when we disagree on the lesser things.

Well, the question then is what are the primary things and what are the lesser things? Over the next six days I want to suggest six primary commitments that I have come to believe holds the Jesus movement together.

To set us up for this little series of thoughts I want to suggest two reminders as we think in terms of the Jesus movement. FIRST-The Jesus movement is answering the summons or call of Jesus on your life-"FOLLOW ME!" That sets the movement in motion. SECOND-The Jesus movement is all about making disciples of all cultures. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)

There is only one command here-MAKE DISCIPLES! And, there are three participles: (1) By going-that's introducing people to this Jesus-advancing the conversation of Jesus. (2) By baptizing-that's identifying people as followers of Jesus as they begin to lean in. The disciples didn't know and believe much when they began to follow Jesus. (3) By teaching-that's instructing people who want to follow Jesus to practice all that He taught.

All of this culminates in the miracle of incarnation-fleshing out Jesus in your life-walking, talking, loving, thinking and bleeding like Jesus. This all happens within the context of walking with others in this movement. Going back to a simple familiar statement: "It's knowing Jesus and making Him known." These six agreements can become a unifying covenant that holds the Jesus movement together. Stay tuned!