That Was Then, This Is Now

            We work too hard to make everything too complicated.  As a lawyer I can say that my profession is part of the problem.  After all, that is how we make our living.  If you can understand me you do not need to pay me to explain the situation to you.

            The church, unfortunately, is no different.  For two thousands years we have worked to complicate matters.  It cannot be as simple as “take up your cross and follow me.”  Jesus’ time was so simple.  Modern man is so far beyond those simple times that we must need anew or more advanced Gospel to reach a new or more advanced generation.

            In other words, that was then, this is now.  We do not just need a savior—we need a new savior.  We need a Jesus we recognize.  The simple carpenter is not sophisticated enough for the modern businessman.  He cannot understand us; we can no longer understand Him.  And so, we create Jesus in our image.  He becomes a successful businessman—he becomes a modern ministry leader.  Without realizing it we have built our own golden calf and we are worshipping in front of it.  It is not idol worship because our golden calf looks like Jesus—that must make it okay.

            We need to get back to a simpler Gospel.  We need to get back to Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus never rode in a car.  He never rode a bicycle.  He never flew in a jet plane.  Jesus never traveled more than a hundred miles from his home.  He never owned a gun—even though in modern day America Jesus is a rabid guns rights God.  Jesus, as far as we know, never owned land or a home.  He never used a computer.  Jesus does not have an email address, or a facebook page.  He never sent out a newsletter.  He never had his photo taken.  Jesus never wrote a word anywhere.  He is not a published author.  He did not own a television set—he had no television ministry.

            Yet, after three years He had managed to amass twelve followers.  Twelve men who knew him inside out.  Twelve men who left everything to follow Jesus.  Jesus hand picked them.  He trained them.  He gave everything he had to them.  They were his.  At the same time, one of the hand picked twelve betrayed him.

            Jesus was killed—so graphically killed that the handpicked twelve, who had recently become eleven, scattered and fled for their lives.  If they killed Jesus, what would they do to the followers who did not have the public voice of Jesus?

            Imagine our modern successful Jesus the Golden Calf, looking out from the grave to find the faithful are gone.  Not the stuff of newsletters and email alerts.  This moment would be the end of all of our ministries and businesses.

            Thus, it is obvious that Jesus measures success differently than we do.  Jesus lives in a realm we no longer recognize.

            These eleven men of Jesus came back together and changed the whole world.  The success of Jesus was measured in the second generation—those who came after him.

            Maybe we should throw away our rulers and learn to measure success by Jesus’ standards.

            Just a thought!



2 Responses to “That Was Then, This Is Now”

  1. 1 Jason Prisk 31 March 2008 at 2:43 am

    Great insight, Joel. It is obvious you have seen life outside of the U.S. Those who have never been to a foreign land, especially the third world, have no sense of the simplicity of the gospel. Even the Christians here really do not believe they need Jesus. Life is just too good. We think “worship” involves a praise band, video screens, a well-balanced musical program built around the theme-of-the-week, and lighting that turns a soft shade of blue on the final song of the set. Anything less, and we will shop around for a better show.

    What a refreshing site the 50 African believers who gather under the trees to truly worship the only One who ever offered them hope. I am convinced that these people are the only ones who really see the world as it is–a place we should happily trade for Heaven. They also get the privilege of meeting with God without the distractions of technology and the egos of too many involved in the “leading of worship” today.

  2. 2 Eric Dye 31 March 2008 at 1:23 pm

    True, indeed.

    I’ve throw these ideas around for a while, now.

    Great insight about the Golden Calf.

    This also goes along with something I read recently about how Jesus was happy with a congregation of only twelve.

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