I’ve been reading an instructive Christian book that challenges believers to completely rethink their approach to studying the scriptures. The most fundamental shift author Jen Wilkin asks readers to make is to realize that “The Bible is a book about God.”
As simple and obvious as that seems, the author reminds us that when we approach scripture looking for what a passage says “to me,” we subconsciously switch our focus from the Bible being God-centered to it being primarily about us. And while it absolutely does give clarity about who we are and what we should do, that information only comes through an understanding of who God is. (pg 23) So as we think about the application of this view of the scripture, we can clearly see that the major emphasis of God’s agenda is for us to take what we know from scripture and share it with others.
Jesus said it like this: “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.”
A lot of Christians know those verses as the Great Commission, but what they don’t realize is that its only part of what Christ said. Back up to verse 18 and we see important context for His challenge. He laid the foundation for his directive by saying
Think about the implications of this. All authority resides in Jesus. He has all power, all ability, all rights, and all privilege. Everything belongs to Him. The Gospel give abundant evidence of Christ’s authority over supernatural forces, illness, sin, and even people, but is that the usual picture painted of Him today?
In his book, “The Jesus I Never Knew,” Philip Yancey talks about the disconnect between the image of Christ in the first century and the one we have today. He wrote that he felt like Hollywood had lied to by Him by portraying Jesus as a man who is “cool as a cucumber,” calmly reciting his lines evenly and dispassionately. Nothing rattles him as he patiently dispenses wisdom in flat measured tones. However, this is in stark contrast to the picture the New Testament gives. Jesus is depicted as one with such authority that people flock to him multitudes and were willing to sit for hours and days just to hear His enthralling teaching. And yet often we act like it takes every last ounce of our will-power to pull ourselves away from what so easily captivates us and simply follow after Him.
Possibly, one of the reasons we fall short of God’s will for our lives is because, in the back of our minds is the image of the mild-mannered Jesus who doesn’t really care what we do and will always forgive us no matter what.
When we reevaluate and replace that flawed image and truly grasp who Jesus is and understand the scope of his authority, we’ll realize that our King has every right to force us to do His will. But instead of lording his power over us, He gently calls out to us, “Follow me!”
Once we relate to Jesus by faith, through prayer, worship, and the Word of God, it should naturally foster within us a wholehearted desire to humbly and gratefully respond to his call without hesitation.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. ~ Matthew 11:28-19