Jesus was…like me?

It’sChristian_faith_016 Wednesday, and I’m stirring on a problem. It seems to me that many people view Jesus’ ministry far too narrowly, and, (time for a new Spiveyism) "utilitarianly"–biased toward their areas of passion and ministry. In the last 14 days or so, I’ve heard that Jesus was exclusively, or at least primarily about the following:

-reaching the lost
-visiting the sick
-helping the poor
-glorifying God
-ministering to children
-serving
-truth

-suffering

-comforting the grieving
-dying
-rising

Not coincidently, each of those speaking were involved in ministries in the church or beyond that were about one or more of the aforementioned practices. All of these well-meaning people cite Scriptures to support their case as though Luke 4, Matthew 25, Matthew 5, Matthew 28, John 13, etc. were the only passages in the Bible. It never ceases to fail…Jesus is most passionate about what I am most passionate about.

The truth is that Jesus was about all of the things listed above. He was more "both/and" than "either/or" in his ministry, and was altogether righteous in every way. We do not need to justify why our ministries exist, or why we are passionate about what we are by playing the "Jesus was about" game.

Our passions are often a reflection of God’s Spirit working within us, and in that sense, we are working in partnership with God to carry out his purposes. As Christians, we must have reverence for how God works in the hearts of others, and for the whole of God’s counsel…which testifies to the fact that God is concerned with things more numerous and  than my ministry, or any single area of ministry. I’m not saying that God is concerned equally about all things. It’s that he’s concerned about all things.

We should also take into account our humanness, utilitarianism, self-interest, and other vices that may cloud our judgment of what God thinks, and have reverence for the wisdom of others seeking the way of Jesus who can illumine new ways of participating in the life of God.

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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4 thoughts on “Jesus was…like me?

  1. I just say AMEN!! We spend so much time trying to put God in a box. If we would finally realize that God’s passions reach and surpass farther than anything we could ever ask or imagine, just imagine what could be accomplished for the sake of the Kingdom. Great Thoughts!

  2. Great thoughts, Tim. Your point about how people emphasize certain Bible texts to the exclusion of others is a key component of your argument. To me, the practice of finding “proof texts” support one’s point of view is one of the most dangerous habits that Christians can engage in, and yet we’ve all done this to some extent in various situations. It’s a misuse of the Bible and it distorts our view of the fullness of God’s self-revelation in Scripture. We must all learn to lay aside our preconceived notions of truth and allow God’s Word to speak the truth in its own way.

  3. I completely agree that the reason we get either a. passionate or b. STUCK in one area of God’s ministry is because it is a direct reflection of what the Spirit is doing in our lives. There’s a difference between being passionate and stuck. Passion is developed because we are constantly seeking after God’s heart. We get stuck becasue we allow ourselves to become lazy and our rate of growth slows down tremendously! I’m totally guilty of being stuck sometimes!
    But the great thing about being part of the church is that we are all so passionate in all of the areas mentioned…we all bring Christ’s ministry to people like He did. Where He could do it all, I think it’s more realistic that we stay in one area and develop gradually into more of the areas of His ministry.
    We are ALL the reflection of Christ’s ministry.

  4. Nailing Jesus down to a single, overarching passion or idea seems equal to grabbing hold of the wind. I think that may be why God’s 2nd commandment was “no graven images”. For a long time I thought graven images were images that represented false gods, and sometimes they were. I never once stopped to notice, though, that He already covered “other gods” in the 1st commandment. I always thought He was just repeating Himself in the 1st and 2nd commandments, which He does to a certain extent, claiming to be jealous and all. But I get the feeling the 2nd commandment is saying a bit more. It seems He wants to prohibit trying to capture the essence of the true God in a tangible, viewable, feelable, understandable way by making a representation of Him in stone or wood or whatever. It’s as if He is saying, “Don’t think you can ever capture everything about me and somehow express it in a sculpture or carving. I would blow your mind.” When people make statements like they’ve narrowed God down to these certain “biggies”, I can see Him up there saying, “You have no idea”.