“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” Jesus, Jn. 15:18
In the previous installment, I made the case that Jesus was both loving and intolerant. Jesus regularly made truth-claims (theological, philosophical, moral, etc.). These exclusive claims naturally placed competing worldviews outside the realm of divinely revealed truth (Jn 14:6).
I also stated that Jesus saw certain thoughts, actions, and behaviors as sinful. His response was to love sinners out of their sinful bondage.
God’s love operates out of truth, not despite the truth.
You can’t have real love without an objective standard of truth by which love operates. There is no love without truth. And there is no truth without love. They are inseparable. Jesus ministered with this mindset.
I began this blog series by laying out seven provocative statements that would serve to summarize the radical life and teachings of Jesus. My desire has been that the follower of Christ would rethink what it means to be a disciple, and that the skeptic would open up their heart and mind to the beauty of the Kingdom of God that Jesus displayed in his life and ministry.
In this final installment, I will bring together all of the material covered in this seven-part series, and show how the many pieces form a cohesive portrait of a new humanity revealed in Jesus of Nazareth.
7. Jesus Revealed the New Way to be Human
Jesus was (and is) the only begotten Son of God. He was sent from the Father to show the world the truth about God, to save us from our sins, and to reveal the Father’s will for all of creation (Jn 3:16; 6:38; Col 1:15; Heb 1:3).
“For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.” Jesus, John 6:38 NLT
The will of God for Jesus was first and foremost to live perpetually by the Father’s divine LIFE (Jn 10:38; 14:10-12). Everything we see from Jesus on the earth is what it looks like when God reigns in a human being.
According to Jesus, if you want to be fully human you will…
- Love God with heart, mind, soul, and strength (Mk 12:29-31);
- Love your neighbor and enemy (Matt 5:38-48; Jn 13:34-35);
- Do unto others what you’d have them do unto you (Matt 7:12);
- Uphold justice, mercy, and faithfulness (Matt 5:7; Lk 11:42);
- Abhor physical violence (Matt 5:39; 26:52);
- Be peacemakers in the world (Matt 5:9);
- Freely forgive and not judge others (Matt 18:21-22; Lk 6:37);
- Bless the poor and needy, visit prisoners (Lk 6:20; Matt 25:36);
- Practice true righteousness (Matt 5:6; 6:1-4);
- Heal the sick and drive out demons (Matt 10:8);
- Seek unity and reconciliation (Matt 18:15-20; Jn 17:20-23);
- Pray “Thy Kingdom come” in everything (Matt 6:5-13);
- Not worry about life and material stuff (Matt 6:25);
- Seek first the Kingdom of God (Matt 6:33).
Jesus revealed the new way to be human. This radical new life, in the face of the old world system, eventually led to his death on the cross. But God vindicated the life and ministry of Jesus by raising him from the dead.
“For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” Paul, Romans 6:4 NLT
Jesus was the firstborn of God’s new creation (Rom 8:29). He is the beginning of a new humanity. For he calls out to the world to be reborn.
“Christ is the Son of God. If we share in this kind of life we also shall be sons of God. We shall love the Father as He does and the Holy Spirit will arise in us. He came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has — by what I call “good infection.” Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Herein lies the greatest threat the Kingdom revolution poses to the world.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ continues to further the Kingdom, amidst the forces of darkness in this fallen world, through his called-out community of faithful followers, known as the ekkelsia (church).
“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Paul, Ephesians 3:10-11 NIV
The mission of Messiah Jesus was to do the will of the Father in bringing about God’s good purposes for creation—right in the middle of this present evil age! The resurrection of Jesus is evidence of God’s future breaking into our present. God’s new world was launched in Christ.
Jesus brought Israel’s story to her climax, and now he is reigning through the church. In order to follow Jesus, you must give up on the world system and commit to God’s Kingdom revolution at work through the church.
You have to leave the old world and the old life behind.
“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” Jesus, Mark 8:35 NIV
Our hope in Christ is that he will return in the future to consummate heaven and earth. In the meantime, his followers are called to further the Kingdom by the power of the Spirit, and increase the new humanity upon the earth.
Listen to the invitation that Jesus has extended to us:
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Jesus, Matthew 16:24 NIV
Will you follow him?
If the world hates you for following Jesus, remember that it hated him first.
You’re not alone. There is a growing Kingdom revolution that can’t be stopped, not even by death itself. For Christ has overcome the world.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus, John 16:33 NIV
Viva La Revolution!
D.D. Flowers, 2013.