Were you raised in Sunday School, like me? If you were, you might know this little song: This Little Light of Mine. From the very beginning we are taught that Jesus in our hearts is like a little candle, barely holding it’s own in the dark world. But as I get older, I want the Jesus I serve to be a huge, roaring forest fire inside me! I want an out of control blaze that consumes everything around me. Don’t give me Jesus Lite. I want the Powerful Jesus who I read about in the Gospels.
Pick up the Bible (I’m loving The Message Version lately) and start reading in Matthew. Seems like, in EVERY SINGLE CHAPTER Jesus is offending someone. No wonder they crucified him! He was not the meek and mild Jesus who went around petting sheep and holding children on his lap. He was the strong and powerful Jesus who controlled the wind and waves. He made demons tremble and cry out when he walked by them. I want the Jesus that evoked AWE in his followers and FEAR in the hypocritical religious leaders.
This week, I was listening to this sermon by Francis Chan. In this sermon Francis just thumbs through the Gospel of Matthew and summarizes each chapter to illustrate that Jesus said some pretty hard things. Here’s just a sampling from this sermon.
Some of the hard things that Jesus said:
* If you love your family, mother or children more than me, you aren’t worthy of me.
* If you’re rich it’s going to be really hard for you to get into heaven because you love your stuff so much.
* Living by the letter of the law will not get you into heaven. No matter how careful you are- every one of you sins.
* Being a in a religious family will not automatically guarantee you a place in heaven.
* If you hate your brother and refuse to forgive, God won’t forgive you either.
* On the Day of Judgement, some of you are going to beg for mercy and call me “Lord” but I’m going to say, “I never knew you- get away from me.” and I’ll cast you into outer darkness.
* Jesus made a whip and drove out the vendors and sellers in the temple and threw the money tables over- He trashed the Temple because they were robbing the people who came to the temple to pray. He said, “My Father’s House is to be a House of Prayer for all nations. But you have made it into a den of thieves!”
* Jesus described himself as the Rock. He basically said, “If you try to fall on me and attack me, I will break you to pieces like a fragile piece of pottery. And if I fall on you, I will crush you. Because I AM The Rock. You can’t break me.” Bring it on Jesus!
* Many are called, but few are chosen. Wide is the road that leads to destruction and many will follow it. But narrow is the road that leads to Eternal Life and few will find it.
* Religious leaders who are fake and hypocrites are like white washed tombs- pretty and neat on the outside but full of dead bones and foul decay on the inside. Jesus hated hypocrisy. He called those guys a brood of vipers. He made a point to provoke the religious leaders.
* The World HATES me, so if you follow me they are going to HATE you too. Don’t be surprised.
* I willingly give my life for you. I have the authority to lay my life down AND TO PICK IT UP AGAIN. Yeah, I’m that powerful. You’ll see, just wait and see. You’re going to kill me because you hate me- but in 3 days I’m going to rise again. Just wait, you’ll see. I do this for you, to pay for your sins. This blood is for you.
* ALL AUTHORITY IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH HAS BEEN GIVEN TO ME… AND I AM WITH YOU EVEN UNTIL THE END OF THE AGE.
YES! That gives me the chills. That’s my Jesus! That’s my Rock. And he’s promised to be with me. He’s on my side. This is the Powerful Jesus who is on my side! I have no fear. Bullies can’t scare me. Death doesn’t scare me. Financial crisis can’t shake me. Nothing can separate me from my Jesus! So what if you don’t like the message? I didn’t write it, this is what Jesus said. So what are you going to do? Email me?
You may be offended by this. You may think that I didn’t have the right to write these things or that Jesus shouldn’t have said these things. But I like what J. Vernon McGee, once said, “This is God’s Universe and He does things His way. You may have a better way, but you don’t have a universe.”