Monday, April 08, 2013



In a revolution there is always conflict, disagreements, choosing up sides, and a variety of adversarial moves to thwart the revolutionary movement that threatens to break-up or pull down the establishment. The spiritual revolution of Jesus is no exception. So far, in this intense Jesus journey, we have encountered 4 revolutionary talking points that on the surface seem to be simple truths, yet can be very threatening to the people of the establishment. By the way, these are the 4 primary themes I've been blogging about for 7 years.
Today, I want to offer a brief overview of the 4 and then take the next few days to unpack each one a little more.
Talking Point #1-PERSON OF JESUS. Since Christianity claims Jesus as its Founder, you would think that lifting Jesus up would be welcomed. Although we receive positive responses every day as we speak of simply Jesus or Jesus plus nothing, there is a significant resistance to this simplicity.

It is so common to add good things on to Jesus with good intentions. These additives diminish the primacy of Jesus-the name above all names. This kind of thing begs the question: "Is Jesus alone enough for you or do you need something else to make your relationship with God satisfactory?"

Jesus, the revolutionary, didn't come to do away with the Law and the Prophets. He said, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished." Think of the Jewish Law and the Prophets as an empty container. Jesus came to fill it up or fill it full-to give that container meaning. In the same way, Jesus came to give life more meaning and fullness to the nations of the world. This is the "good news" Jesus came to offer to the world, yet faced major resistance, even to the point of death.

Jesus, the revolutionary, came to fill up the Jewish container-to rearticulate what it means to be the chosen people. A major dimension of being the chosen people was to be a blessing to the non-Jews-to all of the other nations of the world. Since the Jewish people of the first century were guilty of neglect in being a blessing to the nations of the world-to the non-Jews, they were highly defensive and reactionary against Jesus for bringing it up. At one point, they took Jesus out of the synagogue in Nazareth and attempted to throw him off a cliff.

Now, don't miss this! The religious Jews rejected the good news Jesus came to offer to the Jews and through them to the nations of the world. In fact, I believe the person of Jesus is the good news. Notice Jesus said, "Follow me!", because this spiritual walk and relationship is personal. They rejected Jesus who is the embodiment of the good news.

Jesus warned his followers (that would include us) that they would be hated and persecuted by the world in the same way he was hated and persecuted. What's most interesting is to note the identification of this "world". Jesus says the world will make you outcasts from the synagogue and when they take a stand against you, they will feel they are doing a special service to God. You see, the "world" Jesus is talking about is the religious community. As we do our best to follow Jesus, we get very little resistance from the non-believer world. We get more persecution and resistance from the synagogue (the Church) and its leadership than from those who don't yet know Jesus. This happens as you walk in the steps of Jesus, the revolutionary.

In the days ahead I will articulate how the person of Jesus alone is a definite threat to the religious establishment of our generation as it was with Jesus in the first century.
Talking Point#2-PRESENCE OF THE KINGDOM. Jesus' first words were to announce the presence of the Kingdom right here right now. He said it's near, here and among y'all, yet Bible teachers continue to reframe the simplicity of what Jesus taught about the Kingdom. Jesus only mentioned "church" on two occasions and most of his teachings were about the Kingdom, yet Bible teachers and leaders continue to promote planting, building and growing churches in all cultures. Jesus didn't come to plant an organized system of Churches throughout the world; he came to launch a spontaneous movement of his followers that could penetrate every culture.

For some reason this is a revolutionary and radical thought within the religious establishment. I think it's because it threatens so much of the infrastructure of the many organizations being established. In the next few days we'll examine these threats as we see how they compare with Jesus and his teachings.
Talking Point #3-PARTNERSHIP OF FELLOWSHIP. Jesus was quite clear in his teachings and his personal example that each follower must be connected to a few other followers. This dynamic involves doing life together in a partnership within an interactive fellowship. If you claim to be a follower of Jesus, then it is imperative that you are not to live your life alone, but in tandem with a few others. Being only a spectator at religious services or classes just won't cut it. This is one of the most powerful revolutionary talking points of all.
Talking Point #4-PROCESS OF DISCIPLESHIP. Jesus commanded his followers to make disciples of all nations. He didn't command them to go, to baptize, to teach or to convert all nations. Discipleship may be the most neglected and misunderstood revolutionary talking point of all. Even though there are hundreds of mega-Churches around the US, there is little impact upon our society. Discipleship is the only answer and yet true discipleship rubs against the grain of most religious organizations and strategies. It's just too difficult to make disciples; it's much easier to move people to make decisions and count them among the committed.

As I see it, these are the 4 primary revolutionary, talking points within the Jesus movement. Get a handle on these and you'll find yourself walking with Jesus more closely every day. Run away from these talking points and you'll find yourself walking away from Jesus and his teachings.