The Full Picture

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” ~Mark 8:34 

Consider the impact of what Jesus was telling his disciples at Caesarea Philippi before he had been killed on the cross. Before Jesus actually sacrificed his life at Golgotha it was inconceivable to his followers that he would suffer and die. In the Gospel of Mark only two people understood the concept; only two people saw the entire picture of what it meant for Jesus to be the Christ: blind Bartimaeus beside the road as Jesus entered Jerusalem to lay down his life and the Centurion at the cross the moment the Son of God died.  

Sometimes we don’t see the complete picture of the Christ. We embrace the Jesus who heals and forgives and feeds and loves and accepts and saves. We want to follow that Jesus and live like that Jesus. But a Jesus who suffers and dies? Sometimes we don’t see it. And our picture of the Messiah is woefully incomplete. The Savior we teach is less than whole. The Gospel we preach is only partial truth.  

Thomas a Kempis wrote in The Imitation of Christ: 

“Jesus has many who love his heavenly Kingdom, but few who carry his cross; many who yearn for comfort, few who long for distress. Plenty of people he finds to share his banquet, few to share his fast. Everyone desires to take part in his rejoicing, but few are willing to suffer anything for his sake. There are many that follow Jesus as far as the breaking of the bread, few as far as drinking the cup of suffering; many that revere his morality, few that follow him in the indignity of his cross.” 

Jesus didn’t die so I don’t have to; he died to show me how to.  

May we get in line at the back of the procession Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 4, “like men condemned to die in the arena” with our crosses on our backs. Following Jesus.

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The final numbers are in from Sunday night: 654 meeting in our Small Groups Church; 94 more here at the building; and 30 deaf brothers and sisters, for a grand total of 778 coming together in each others’ homes and at our Legacy campus here to Apply the Word, Connect as a Family, and Evangelize the Community!

778! As far as we can tell up here, it’s the largest Sunday night attendance number in Pipeline-Legacy history! That’s 82% of our Sunday morning attendance! That very well could be the highest Sunday night, percentage-wise, in the brotherhood!

Praise God! And give him all the glory and honor!

Now, what do we do with this?

We should all rejoice that so many of us are obviously commiting to being serious about our Christian walk with our Savior and with each other. It appears that we’re truly ready to open up ourselves and our homes and our families and our very lives to the transforming work of God in Jesus through his Holy Spirit in Christian community.

Now, let’s remain focused on the purpose. Let’s not lose sight of the goal. Let’s continue, knowing it will take time and consistency, to allow our God to change us by his Word, to minister through us by our connections, and to redeem the world through our efforts to evangelize our friends and neighbors.

Peace,

Allan

6 Comments

  1. Rob's Dad

    Easier said than done. I can do it for a day (like Give Away Day) or a week (Royal Family) but can I do it day after day where it’s messy and uncertain and it there isn’t a end in sight? I don’t know if I’m strong enough or bold enough. Can I really immerse myself? Or do I settle for a pat on the back and glib line doesn’t go very far?

    You might say that I need to trust in God but it’s really hard. “Let go and let God” sounds good on a bumper sticker but it’s not that easy for me being the immature, lightweight Christian that I am.

  2. Allan

    But there IS an end in sight. We’re only doing what Jesus did (does) in the same way Jesus did (does)it. And we should expect the exact same results. He’s telling us to follow him, to do what he did (does), and he promises us the same exaltation and glory that he now has as the resurrected Lord reigning at the right hand of God. The end is that transformation into his perfect image. And it’s not easy. Growing pains are painful. We can’t have it both ways. And I’m sure that message needs to be preached.

    Here’s a line from Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death I’m going to use Sunday morning: “I believe I am not mistaken in saying that Christianity is a demanding and serious religion. When it is delivered as easy and amusing, it is another kind of religion altogether.”

  3. Rob's Dad

    I’m not overlooking eternity for a minute. I’m talking about the time we are here on Earth. What happens when you run out of money before you run out of month? What about providing long-term care to a parent? What about helping someone in bad marriage situation? What about helping someone who is so deep in depression that it’s a struggle just to get out of bed?

    You hang on to the transformation but it’s still hard. If I look long-term then today’s problem is so small, but I live in today and that makes it huge. What do we do to tangibly help in the present? I try but it’s hard.

  4. Allan

    Might it have anything to do with “seeing” suffering and death and hardship and struggle as the expected and welcome daily norm for a disciple and not some unfortunate side-effect that occurs irregularly? Could the answer lie in viewing our valleys as maybe the most critical parts of our transformation? It’s not “how am I going to get through this?” It’s “God knows what he’s doing here so I’m going to rejoice.”

    Again, much easier said than done. But I’m thinking that’s where it’s at.

  5. Rob's Dad

    God knows what He is doing. I don’t know what God is doing, much less what I’m doing. Rejoice is not the word that comes to mind.

  6. Allan

    “Rejoice” is precisely the word that came to Peter’s mind.

    “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” ~1 Peter 4:12-13.

    “These [sufferings and trials] have come so that your faith…may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him…you are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” ~1 Peter 1:7-9.

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