This week I preached the 2nd sermon in a new series in Hebrews. If you’re in the Little Rock area, you’re always welcome to join us at CrossWalk Family of God. Here’s the brief recap:
I have a friend who recently met Charles Barkley. And by “met” I mean he gave Chuck a high-five. Yet my friend was moved enough to post a picture of his hand on Facebook and recount the entire event, word for irrelevant word. The moment mattered not because of what was said, but because of the encounter itself. Barkley could have said, “Hey, drop dead, moron.” and my friend would tell the story with the same gusto. Meeting celebrities turns us into screaming, tweenage girls because for just a moment we matter, we’re seen, we’re known, we’re important.
In Hebrews, the Preacher says in chapter 1 that God tried to reveal himself to creation for thousands of years. He tried through the prophets, the Law, and by manifesting himself in various forms (clouds and burning bushes, for instance). But none of it worked. It was all just a shadow, a reflection, a copy of a copy of a copy.
The Preacher of Hebrews goes into a pretty lengthy teaching about angels in Hebrews 1:5-14. It’s bookended by the phrase, “To what angel did God ever say…?” In Hebrew culture, it was believed that angels were assigned to rule over certain nations (from Deuteronomy 32:8-9), while God himself ruled over Israel. So it was believed that angels had some authority – divine authority – and were of greater standing in the created order than humans.
Not only that, but angels were messengers. Think about Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, who saw an angel as he entered the temple to make an offering. Think of the shepherds in the field who were told by an angel that the Messiah was born. Angels brought a message from God, but the Son brought God himself, and is therefore greater than the angels.
But that’s not really the main point. The main point is that by being the exact representation of God, the arrival of Jesus sent shockwaves throughout creation. You know how a pebble sends ripples across a still lake? Well Jesus wasn’t a pebble, he was a Mack truck. Everything was disturbed, everything turned on its head, and all creation moved toward eternity.
God’s encounter with creation through the incarnation of Jesus was disturbing for all people in all times. Life changed forever. Creation changed forever. The world received a new form of economics, ethics, politics, and religion. The world saw how to treat those of lower class, of different race, and of opposing religious beliefs. The world saw the value of the outcast and the authority of the powerless. Jesus threw the whole universe off-course.
And he’s still doing it in the hearts and lives of every person pursuing him.
Here’s what I want to say: Jesus will shatter your life. You simply cannot pursue Jesus and the life he offers without being permanently changed at the core of your being. Pursuing Jesus will slowly – and often painfully – strip away layer after layer of You until there’s only Him.
What would Jesus blow up in your world if you started pursuing him right now? Where are you comfortable? Where are you blind toward the suffering? What are you absolutely, 100%, without a doubt, unwilling to do or unwilling to go? There’s a good chance that’s exactly where he’ll call you. Because Jesus isn’t in the business of keeping us as we are; he’s in the business of disturbing everything in our world so that we’ll finally know the full expression of God.
If you want to get a little crazy, hit your knees right now and ask God to come disturb your life. But, as Jesus warned, count the cost. Make sure you know what you’re asking. Because he probably isn’t going to disturb you by giving you a bunch of money and a big house and that job you always wanted. He’s probably going to send you the other way, down the ladder, and out into the margins. If you’re ready to see where God will take you, then go for it. But be ready for a wild ride.