Part Three: The Leadership of Jesus
April 9, 2015
April 9, 2015
Part Three: The Leadership of Jesus
April 9, 2015
Part Two: The Spirituality of Jesus
April 8, 2015
Part One: The Mission of Jesus
March 31, 2015
APRIL 23 – 25:
Denver, Colorado – SIMPLY JESUS GATHERING
Colorado Springs, Colorado – TBD (to be determined)
MAY 30 – 31:
Castle Rock, Colorado – ROCK CHURCH
MAY 31 – JUNE 1:
Castle Rock, Colorado – YOUTH WITH A MISSION – Leadership Training School
JUNE 5 – 7:
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada - LIVING HOPE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
Pleasant Valley, Ohio – PLEASANT VALLEY CHURCH
JUNE 19 – 21:
Tampa, Florida - CORNERSTONE CHURCH
Goodyear, Arizona – STREAMS CHURCH
JULY 11 – 12:
Phoenix, Arizona – LIVING STREAMS CHURCH
AUG 14 – 16:
Phoenix, Arizona - MEN’S RETREAT
Phoenix, Arizona - CITIZEN’S CHURCH
AUG 21 – 23:
Lakeside, Montana – YOUTH WITH A MISSION – 30th Anniversary Celebrations
AUG 31 – SEPT 3:
Kona, Hawaii - YOUTH WITH A MISSION DTS
SEPT 6 – 8:
San Diego, California - ALL PEOPLE’S CHURCH
Norman, Oklahoma - NORMAN COMMUNITY CHURCH
Omaha, Nebraska – ALL NATIONS CHURCH
Dallas, Texas – CHRIST FOR THE NATIONS INSTITUTE
Tulsa, Oklahoma - BELIEVERS CHURCH
Yakima, Washington - YAKIMA OPEN DOOR CHURCH
NOV 7 – 12:
Tainan, Taiwan - ALL NATIONS GLOBAL LEADERSHIP and PRAYER SUMMIT
Austin, Texas - HOPE IN THE CITY
March 19, 2015
Carl Medearis is an international expert in the field of Arab-American and Muslim-Christian relations.
He acts as a catalyst for a number of current movements in the Middle East to promote peace-making, as well as cultural, political and religious dialog leading toward reconciliation. Carl, his wife Chris, and three kids lived in Beirut, Lebanon for 12 years. Through their unique and strategic approach around the Arab world, they encourage university students, business professionals and political leaders to live their lives by the principles and teachings of Jesus in order to change their societies and nations. He is the author of the acclaimed book on these issues, ‘Muslims, Christians and Jesus’.
Carl is a brilliant author and a good friend and I am excited about his new book titled ‘Adventures In Saying Yes – A Journey From Fear To Faith‘
To check it out, just click here
March 17, 2015
The following is a piece written by BRIAN ZAHND. If you would like to see the original post or read more from Brian please click on the link to view his blog site – Brian’s blog
Why is there something instead of nothing?
The only answer I can imagine is Genesis 1:1. In the beginning God…
But why would God say, “Let there be light” and initiate Creation?
The only answer I can imagine is God is love.
What is light? God’s love in the form of photons.
What is water? A liquid expression of God’s love.
What is a mountain? God’s love in granite, so much older than human sorrow.
What is a tree? God’s love growing up from the ground.
What is a bull moose? God’s love sporting spectacular antlers.
What is a whale? Fifty tons of God’s love swimming in the ocean.
As we learn to see Creation as goodness flowing from God’s own love—
We begin to see the sacredness of all things.
As Dylan and Dostoevsky say, in every grain of sand.
All of creation is a gift — a gift flowing from the self-giving love of God.
Why is there light and oceans and trees and moose and whales and every grain of sand?
Because God is love — love seeking expression in self-giving creativity.
Unless we understand this we’ll misunderstand everything and misspend our lives.
In our misunderstanding and misspent lives we harm Creation—
Including our sisters and brothers, all of whom bear the image of God.
Love never ends.
At the end of all things there is love. Love abides. Love endures.
When the last star burns out, God’s love will be there for whatever comes after.
In the end it all adds up to love. So when you are calculating the meaning of life—
If it doesn’t add up to love, recalculate, because you’ve made a serious mistake!
Existence only makes sense when seen through the lens of love.
At the beginning of time there is love.
At the bottom of the universe there is love.
It’s in God’s ocean of endless love that we live and move and have our being.
Admittedly freedom allows for other things too (from cancer cells to atomic bombs)—
But at the bottom of the universe it’s love all the way down.
Cancer cells and atomic bombs will not have the final say.
Love alone has the last word.
“Unless you love, your life will flash by.”
(Thank you, Terrence Malick.)
Love alone gives meaning to our fleeting fourscore sojourn.
Why? Because everything else returns to dust. It’s love alone that never ends.
It’s love alone that is greater than the grave. Death severs all save love.
We remain connected to our departed loved ones by the un-severable bond of love.
God’s love is great enough to remember all and to re-member all.
If Creation is an explosion (or rapid expansion) of God’s love (and I believe it is)—
New Creation (or resurrection) is the triumph of God’s endless love over death.
This is the question: Which is endless, Love or Death? The answer is Love.
If God is love and if love never ends and if the meaning of being is love…
And if Jesus is the supreme incarnation of God’s eternal love…
Then that should tell us something about what it looks like to follow Jesus.
Following Jesus is a journey toward perfection in the love of God.
It’s a journey that will take us a lifetime, and perhaps longer.
But the trajectory is clear: We are always moving toward the way of love.
If what we’re doing, praying, preaching, saying, isn’t moving us toward love…
Then it’s not the true way of following the love of God who is Jesus Christ.
This needs to be said, because it is too easily forgotten.
Loveless orthodoxy is death.
We’ve all seen those who in the name of Jesus have perfected meanness.
The iconic and tragic-comic example would be the Westboro Baptist folk…
But there are plenty of other less egregious, but still tragic, examples.
The journey of faith almost always begins as somewhat elitist (I’m saved!)—
But it always move toward becoming egalitarian. (Peter learning Gentiles are accepted by God.)
Love triggers the divine and deep (but often repressed) instinct that all things belong.
(All God has created is good. Sin is the corruption, the hole, in the fabric of God’s goodness.)
You too belong. You too are accepted. I will make room for you.
Over time, as we are properly formed, love will elicit this kind of language.
Love is open. Love is expansive. There is a largeness to love.
Sin is mean, petty, and small.
The whole world of Hell in C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce was no bigger than a grain of sand.
If Creation comes from the explosive expansion of God’s love—
Then I find it significant that we live in an ever expanding universe.
The universe is not shrinking, it’s not static, it’s expanding…at the speed of light!
God is love. God is light. God’s love is expanding at the speed of light.
And what is the wrath of God? The love of God wrongly received.
Either we go with the grain of love or we suffer the shards of self-inflicted harm.
(And that you “did it to yourself” by resisting God’s love makes it no less of a judgment.)
What about the borders of your love? Are they shrinking? Static? Expanding?
Who are you embracing in love. Fewer people? The same people? More people?
I’m not worried about having borders of love that are too broad.
Loving too many people will hardly be a crime at the judgment seat of Christ.
In my earliest days of following Jesus I had an air of triumphalism. (I’m on the winning team!)
But as I mature I find triumphalism shrinking and love expanding.
Today I find it much easier to love people who are very different from me.
I’ve learned to genuinely love people of other religions. (And still confess Jesus is Lord.)
I’m thinking of specific people…friends.
But will they be saved?!
That’s not my business. My business is to love and point to Jesus.
(I do believe that no one who loves the way of grace ever comes to a bad end.)
Back to the question about our borders of love…
Why would our borders of love shrink and not expand? Only one answer: Fear.
As I observe the world — politically, socially, economically, religiously…
I observe there really are only two forces that move people: Fear and Love.
So when you observe the events that make news (especially if there’s controversy)—
Ask this simple question: What’s at work here? Fear or Love?
Then ask yourself another question: What’s moving me? Fear or Love?
Finally, make the decision to move with love and refuse to respond to fear.
You can afford to make that risky move because…
God is love and love never ends.
March 16, 2015
I believe we can live victoriously every day. I believe we can enjoy the grace of God in difficult circumstances and when we are down emotionally. Personally, I need time with the Lord every day, or my emotional and spiritual well runs dry. When that happens, my faith level goes down and I start listening to the lies of the enemy.
On a practical level, I love variety, so I change my ‘quiet time’ routine every few months. If I don’t, it gets boring and I lose interest. Sally is the exact opposite to me. She follows the same approach every morning, in the same chair, at the same time.
But I need variety. I think it’s a personality thing. I like variety in how I relate to Sally or any of my friends. I like to do different things with them. See a movie, go for a walk, play golf, take a hike in the mountains…the point is to hang out together but do things we enjoy at the same time.
But, with the variety and change, I also need consistency in my times with the Lord. There are certain aspects of my relationship with God that never change.
I thought I would share ‘a tool’ with you that has helped me spend meaningful time with the Lord. I use this tool in the mornings, and any time in the day for that matter. A friend passed it on to me many years ago, and I like it a lot. In fact, I have come to the conclusion that it contains elements of truth that should be part of how we relate to the Lord every day.
It’s really simple. This model of prayer, if you want to call it that, is so easy you can memorize and follow it any time of the day. You can do it while you are driving to work, going for a walk, etc. Yet it has lots of opportunity for substance and going deeper with the Lord as well. When I lack direction or my mind wanders, I know what to do to get going. If you like this tool and find it helpful, you may want to write down the seven headings on a 3×5 card and keep it with you as a reminder.
It’s based on the Tabernacle in the Old Testament. I encourage you get a diagram of the Tabernacle from your Bible or borrow one from a friend who has a study Bible so you can visualize it.
It will be easier for you to remember it that way, too. The Lord gave the design for the tabernacle to Moses in Exodus 25-31. Different features of the tabernacle were representative of how the people of Israel were to relate to God. For example, as the priests entered the tabernacle, they went first to the altar of burnt offerings, or altar of sacrifice, as it is sometimes called. They did that as a sacrifice for their sins. The altar of sacrifice is symbolical of Christ’s death on the cross.
If each station of the tabernacle was important to the people of God in those days, they are just as important to us today. I am so convinced of this truth, that no matter how I rearrange my quite times, I include these seven elements in my times of connecting with God. They are as follows:
There you have it: seven aspects of our relationship with Jesus. My prayer for you is that you will grow in your desire to spend time with Jesus each day. He loves you and longs to be with you!
The Tabernacle Model of Prayer and the Lord’s prayer are linked in that they both describe essential ingredients of our walk with the Lord:
Adorationv – Our Father in heaven – Altar of Incense
Consecration – Holy be Your name – Altar of Sacrifice/Burnt Offerings
Intercession – Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven – Mercy Seat/Ark of the Covenant
Infilling and personal supplication – Give us this day our daily bread – Table of Showbread & Golden Lampstand
Cleansing and forgiveness – Forgive us our sins, As we forgive those who have sinned against us – Bronze Laver
Spiritual warfare – Lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one – Outer Court
Worship and declaration – For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever! – Altar of Incense
March 11, 2015
The following is an excerpt from Spiritual Soup for the Hungry Soul Vol. 2 © Copyright 2013 by Greg Albrecht, published by Plain Truth Ministries, Pasadena, CA, USA. Used by permission.
“Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” – Joshua 5:13-14
Have you ever noticed how many individual Christians and incorporated religious institutions assume that God is exclusively on their side? Many seem to think that God is a member-in-good-standing of their denomination. Many seem to assume that God carries the same national passport they do and that He always supports their country in any military altercation. Some even act and talk as if God supports their favorite athletic team and their particular political party.
But if you think about the whole idea of God being polarized and politicized for about three seconds, it really doesn’t make any sense, does it? After all the Bible clearly teaches that God loves all mankind equally. The man in our keynote passage who appeared to Joshua could have been an angel of the Lord, or this incident could have been yet another example of a theophany, an appearance of God himself. Whether it was the Lord or an angel of the Lord is really not all that important – what is important is the message given to Joshua and the context of that message.
As the book of Joshua begins, the nation of Israel (after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness) is poised to inherit the land God promised to them. Joshua has taken over for Moses as the national leader. As he is preparing for war against Jericho, the first city-state that he and the nation of Israel will conquer, Joshua has a visitor. In the midst of Joshua’s military preparations the Lord (or His angel) appeared with a drawn sword. As the commander-in-chief of Israel’s army, Joshua’s first question is natural: “Are you for us or against us? Are you a friend or foe?”
The answer is profound. In effect God says to Joshua: “Whether I am on your side is not the real issue. The most important question is whether you are on my side. You follow my directions and decisions – not the other way around.” If you are an American, I presume you know that the words “God bless America” are not in the Bible. If you are a citizen of another country you probably understand that “God bless Canada” or “God bless England or Nigeria or Germany or Afghanistan or India or China or Indonesia” does not appear in the Bible either.
I love my country. I tear up when I hear the stories of those who have sacrificed for the freedoms we Americans enjoy. I sing the Star Spangled Banner and recite the Pledge of Allegiance with respect. I am thankful I have been given the opportunity to live in the United States. For that matter, I recognize and give thanks for the blessings of friends and family, and spiritual brothers and sisters who experience life within any democracy, in a country where freedom of thought, assembly and worship is given. And there are many such places in our world today.
My wife and I lived in the United Kingdom for a number of years, and enjoyed the blessings of life in such an environment. As an American, I am deeply moved by the beneficial work of Americans as they help people both within our country and abroad. But I am not blind to the sins of our country. I am not blind to the fact that no country or any political system is without sin. I am not blind to the fact that many wars are contested by countries and nations that are both wrong in their motives for fighting and killing.
I do not worship my country any more than I worship a church or a religion. I worship Jesus alone. When all is said and done, when we read history carefully, we find out that warfare is a dirty and corrupt business, and that there have been few times when one side is absolutely clean and righteous in their motivation for fighting and in the way they have prosecuted and carried out warfare. It is important for Christians to maintain their focus on Jesus Christ, rather than falling into the ditch of nationalism.
John 3:16, the most often quoted and memorized verse in the entire Bible, tells us that God loves the entire world. Romans 2:11 tells us that God does not show favoritism. God loves us all, and that all-encompassing, all-embracing love is one of the things that makes Him God. He does not have favorites. He is not partisan or political. He is above the kind of petty squabbles and conflicts that we humans get into. God is not involved in the struggles that often define us and consume us. He is truly above it all – He doesn’t take sides!
And that’s exactly how God replied to Joshua’s inquiry as to whether He was on Joshua’s side or on the side of Joshua’s enemies. God (or the angel who conveyed God’s message) said neither. The ninth chapter of the Gospel of Mark records a fascinating story from Jesus’ ministry. Jesus’ disciples came to Him and told Him about a man who was driving demons out of people, in Jesus’ name. The disciples told Jesus that they had told him to stop healing people, because, as Mark records them saying to Jesus, he was not one of us (Mark 9:38).
“He or she is not one of us!” How often has that been said, over the centuries, in those exact words or something similar, by those who thought they were faithfully following Jesus? Some within Christendom become so confident in their creeds, doctrines, dogmas, practices, ceremonies and beliefs that they actually believe their position is one and the same as God’s position. Pride and arrogance are not far behind.
And, of course, pride and arrogance produces intolerance and condemnation. Sometimes those who say they are following God become physically abusive to anyone who disagrees with them – for after all, “those” people are disagreeing with God, aren’t they?
When we get caught up in thinking that God is on our side and when we start making critical comments about those who do not seem to be one of us, we are not reconcilers – we are not peacemakers – but instead we become divisive – we become angry and hostile to others. When our focus leaves Jesus, the Prince of peace, we cease to be connected with others, whatever their beliefs may be. The love of our own interests, our own nation, culture, religion and values turns us away from the love that God has for all humanity.
We make judgments that “God is on our side” and “those other people are not one of us” because we are living out of fear. Fear, along with shame and guilt, is a product of Christ-less religion. In Mark 9, when the disciples complained about someone who seemed to be healing and helping people, in Jesus’ name, but someone who wasn’t in their club, someone they didn’t know, someone who didn’t appear to be “one of us” – what did Jesus say?
Jesus said, Do not stop him (Mark 9:39). Please excuse my paraphrase, as I put words in Jesus’ mouth, but is seems to me that He was telling His disciples something like this:
“Listen up guys. The gospel is not about whether God is on your side – it’s about the decision you make to be on His side. The gospel is not about whether someone is one of you – it’s about the incredible news that God is for all of us – not just you guys – but everyone. Taking sides is not part of God’s grace. That’s not how His love and grace work.”
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the end of the eye-for-aneye response, a response which, of course, makes everyone blind (Matthew 5:38-42). Christ-less religion often squelches the gospel, with fever-pitched cries for vindication, politically or militarily. May God forgive us when pulpits of Christian churches are used to cry out for bloodshed. The kingdom of heaven is a multi-ethnic, international, irreligious kingdom – it most certainly is not a war-mongering, nationalistic kingdom.
One of the major lessons of the book of Revelation is that religion and the state often combine as enemies of the true gospel, so much so that Revelation 18:4 calls to the people of God, who follow Christ alone, to “Come out of her, my people.”
The book of Revelation provides a warning and a chronicle of what happens when those who profess Christ jump into bed with either Christ-less religion or the idolatry of Caesar worship – the worship of a nationalistic human empire – or a combination of both. Just as there have been religious institutions in the past that were merely pawns of a nationalistic state worship, so too religious institutions today fall into the same idolatrous worship. They fly the flag of Christ, but they are no more part of Him than those who do not even claim to be followers of Jesus. It’s so easy to respond to martial music and join the crusade of demanding an eye for an eye, but we are clearly told that our citizenship primarily lies in heaven:
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ… (Philippians 3:20). Our true, eternal citizenship is in heaven. As Christ followers may we realize that as we live here on this earth, wherever we may live, and under whatever form of government, that we, as Christians, refuse to bow down and worship our country just as Daniel refused to worship the golden idol that King Nebuchadnezzar had formed and fashioned.
As citizens of the kingdom of heaven, we worship no golden idols here on earth. We bow the knee to the Prince of peace, not to any god of war. Our citizenship in the kingdom of heaven is based on God’s incredible love, which flows into our hearts and our lives by His grace.
In Luke chapter 9 we read that when the Samaritans refused to welcome Jesus and His disciples, James and John wanted to call fire down from heaven to consume these enemies of the gospel. How dare they stand in the way of truth?
But Jesus rebuked James and John—and then, in the very next chapter, on the heels of His rejection by the Samaritans, Jesus chose a Samaritan as the good guy of His parable about the love of God—a parable we call the parable of the Good Samaritan!
The life of Christ involves turning the other cheek to the enemy who wrongs us, blessing the enemy who curses us and praying for those who abuse us. That is the radical grace and love of the kingdom of heaven.
Whose Side Is God On? He’s on your side and on my side. God is on the side of our next-door neighbors whose dogs bark and bother us, the neighbors who never mow their lawn and who have loud parties. He’s on the side of people who don’t attend your church – or people who don’t attend any church – or people who are not even Christians. God’s love is big enough – there’s enough of it to go around, even for people who don’t even believe in Him – at least not yet.
Whose Side Is God On? He’s on the side of people who live outside of our borders and boundaries, who speak languages we don’t understand and practice and love a culture we don’t know or appreciate. God does not take sides as humans do. He is not against anyone. He doesn’t have favorites. The real question for you and me is whether we are on God’s side.
February 27, 2015
From the crowds, came the seekers. One senses in reading the Gospels that there were people in and out of Jesus’ life who were actively seeking to know more. Some of them are made known to us in the gospel accounts, like Nicodemus, Zacchaeus, or the Roman centurion. There must have been many more who were actively interested in hearing His teachings. They were people who had listened to Jesus speaking, seen Him perform miracles, or had heard about Him and wanted to know more. Different people had different reasons for seeking Jesus: some were sincere, others wanted to find fault with Him, and still others were motivated by curiosity. Some were desperate for help. Jesus’ response to seekers was very different from His response to large crowds. He was more personal, but not always more friendly. He was probing, questioning, and He almost always asked or demanded something costly from seekers. Jesus tested them, but in a pro-active and loving kind of way. He would give them something to do, a step to take, to show they were prepared to pay the price necessary to actually follow Him. Jesus did not continually dispense truth to seekers if they did not show that they were willing to obey what He had already taught them.
Jesus modeled for us how to arouse the interest of people through telling stories and doing miracles. But we also learn from Him how to ask seekers to go beyond spiritual curiosity or the miracle they have experienced, to hearing and obeying His teachings. If they took one step, Jesus led them to the next. Because we have the advantage of knowing the parable of the Sower, the seed and the soil, we know that Jesus understood that the hearts of people were all different. Some were hard, some were responsive; and of those that were responsive, not all were genuine or lasting.
There are many examples in the Gospels of Jesus’ interaction with this group of the not-yet-committed as He invites them to be obedient disciples:
For Jesus, evangelism was disciple-making.
Our ‘community’ is people we have personal contact with. They are people who show spiritual interest, or who will show interest, if we pray for them and take time for them. Make a list of people who you know personally who don’t know Jesus. Those are the ‘seekers’ God has placed in your life that comprise your ‘community’.
3. Core group disciples
The core group disciples were those who were attracted to Jesus, who subsequently crossed a threshold in their lives and decided to trust Jesus. Understanding grew gradually in the hearts of the disciples of what it meant to obey Jesus. Jesus deliberately selected some of His followers for more responsibility. It says in Luke 6: 12 that from those who were with Him, He chose twelve for apostolic responsibility; that is, to be set aside, fully ready to obey Jesus.
At this point terminology can fail us. There seem to have been many of Jesus’ disciples who were not fully in or fully out. Jesus left it purposefully that way. He did not draw up a list of rules like the Pharisees of His day, and decide – based on strict adherence to His ‘rules and regulations’ of discipleship – who was ‘in’ or ‘out’. Jesus invited people to be His disciples by drawing them to Himself, rather than by establishing an ‘in or out’ closed society. But there was no question about whether He wanted obedience from His core team – that had to be absolute, because He stood at the centre of the new community He was creating. There were people who were called disciples, but who had not counted the cost of following Jesus all the way – “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:66). Jesus asked the twelve whom He had appointed to share leadership responsibility with Him if they, too, wanted to leave Him. Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
Understanding the paradoxes of discipleship is crucial to this process of moving from crowds, to a community of seekers, to a core group of disciples. This is not a hard and fast method, but a process to follow in order to find people in whom we can invest our lives.
Sharing Jesus is partly about discerning the ‘crowd’ in our lives, building relationships with a ‘community of seekers’ and then selecting a core group of potential disciples to invest in. Sharing Jesus – what we typically refer to as evangelism – cannot be separated from a process of finding those who are responsive to Jesus.
Jesus taught and modeled the way in which to discern how open people are to the good news (Luke 8:4 and following). He respected people, but also challenged them to go further in their search for God. In the parable of the Sower, Jesus compared the good news to seed sown into the soil of people’s hearts. The ‘soil’ represented four different types of people’s readiness to hear His message. Jesus told this story to His disciples to help them to discern the soil condition of people’s hearts. In Luke 8:11, Jesus explained to them that the ‘seed’ is the message from God to people. Luke begins chapter 8 by saying that “Jesus. . . began a tour of the nearby cities and villages to announce the Good News concerning the Kingdom of God. . .” In His parable, the ‘sower’ of the seed is the disciples themselves.
February 25, 2015
This is Part One of an exerpt from my book ‘Follow’…
We can discover the answer to the question of what evangelism is, in looking at how Jesus related to people. In my study of the gospels, I have found it very helpful to realize that there were patterns of how Jesus related to three different categories of people: the crowds, seekers who approached Him to learn more, and those He invited to be His disciples. I summarize these three groups in this way:
Let’s go over these three groups in a little more detail, because each of us as a follower of Jesus has the same three groups of people in our lives.
We may not heal people like Jesus did, but we all have a good sized group of people we know and interact with, including neighbors, people at work, family, etc. Those people are our ‘crowd’. Just as Jesus did good deeds and shared good news with all those He encountered, so can we. On a ‘crowd’ level, Jesus did not try to accomplish what could be done only through personal relationship; He did reach out to people in order to influence them and was intentional about reaching people – but with distinctly different approaches. My estimate is that He spent far more time interacting with small groups and individuals than He did with crowds, perhaps spending 75 percent of His time with His disciples. I think Jesus saw interaction with the crowds as a way of ‘planting a seed’ in people’s hearts (Luke 8:4-18); a way of arousing spiritual interest, and also a way of finding potential spiritual seekers and disciples to teach.
In every instance where Jesus interacts with large groups of people, He responds in one of seven ways:
If you made a list of everyone you have in your cell phone and email list, those are all people you have connected with. From this group of people, God wants to give you a few that you relate to more personally.
The one thing Jesus consistently did not do in all His interactions with large groups of people was that He did not pressure them to become one of His disciples. He did not invite people to join Him as one of His close-up followers – He did that one-on-one. He did try to arouse the spiritual interest of people. He did speak to stir up their dreams and expectations for what could come from their lives if they sought after God and we should do the same.
From a big-picture point of view, Jesus was aware and intentional about making sure that the people in certain regions knew about Him. He sent His disciples ahead of Him to all the towns and cities He planned to visit (see Luke 10:1). That is not an uncommon phrase or sentiment in the gospels. These verses are examples of the deliberate attempt by Jesus to spread the good news of His Kingdom far and wide:
One thrust of the great commission that Jesus gave to His disciples was to take the good news everywhere. He told them to “go into all the world”, and to “make disciples of all nations”.
How do you apply the ‘crowd’ idea to your life situation? Jesus wants every person in your sphere of influence, in your relational and family network and in your geographical setting, to hear the good news. He especially wants you to be aware of those around you who suffer. That does not mean you are personally responsible for each of them, but you will never fully know your part in taking Jesus to the people in your ‘crowd’ if you are not praying for them to hear about and experience the love and mercy of God, found in Jesus. That includes those at your place of work, your university, your neighborhood, your village, and in nearby disadvantaged communities. God has placed you where He has placed you for a reason. You become that person by being a listening ear, someone to debrief with after a hard day, a safe person to talk to when burdened with life. Visit neighbors, walk around during coffee breaks at work, or take time to hang out with fellow students in your school, college or university. Jesus wants to reach each person in your ‘crowd’ – through you.
‘Community’ and ‘Core Group’ to follow in Part Two