Thursday, June 21, 2012

Growing up to be tender and tough like Jesus!!

Yesterday, I happened to read mails from those struggling in their lives, a quite an alarming number of them sounding hopeless, worthless and suicidal and expressing their thoughts of depression.  As I was reading I was really moved in my spirit and started praying Lord, there are so many needy people who are desperately seeking help, Lord Jesus please send your help to them and save them and protect their lives.

Just pondering over these things and the reality that every minister/believer of God have their own situations of problems and worries and tough situations and trials.  As maturing Christians, we have been trained in our Christian walk to be tough to our own sufferings and to be tender and compassionate towards others' problems and needs.  We need to grow up to say “we are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.” We need to be strengthened in faith first so that we can become a source of strength to others in need. We have no role model other than Jesus.  He is the one we must follow and imitate. 
Ephesians 5:1-2 “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.“

As being led by the Spirit of the Lord, I am sharing an article here, author of which is not known, for the benefit of the Body of Christ.

JESUS - TOUGH OR TENDER?  JOHN 2:12-25, MARK 10:13-16

How many here went to Sunday School when you were young?  I thought that the vast majority would have.  And what was probably the song that you learnt the most?  Jesus loves me this I know? 
Sing:  Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so, little ones to him belong, they are weak but he is strong.  Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me, the bible tells me so.

Whilst this is very true it gives the impression because of the lyrics and tune that Jesus is meek and mild and never gets angry.  It’s such a lovely tune.  But I want to put it to you that Jesus is not some weak woos that gets walked over or never gets upset.  Yes, Jesus talks a lot about love, and most would think that he speaks more about love than he does about giving for instance, but even though that’s not true, but we get the impression that he is always loving and forgiving.  But if that all we think he is, then we can have a wrong perspective and never worry about what we do wrong because in our view he will not punish us or cause us to face the consequences of our wrong choices.  But we need to have a more rounded view of Jesus.

Of course we see this soft, tender side of Jesus in our reading this morning about him blessing the little children.  But, as I say, if we only ever see him as loving and forgiving, which he is, then we are only seeing and understanding part of ‘who’ he really is. 

Jesus Christ would have to be one of the toughest people to ever walk on this earth.  He went through so much in his life that most of us would simply crumble under and give up.  He faced very real persecution and ridicule.  He faced people who stood against everything he said.  In the end Jesus had to suffer the kind of physical abuse that probably no one in human history has had to face before or since.  The movie, The Passion of the cross, showed one of the greatest and most real portrayals of what Jesus went through that has ever been recorded.  I feel the beating may have gone on for a bit long, but when you read passages like Isaiah 52:14 you can certainly understand what Jesus went through. That verse says that he was not recognizable.

Even on the cross what he suffered showed that he was no woos.  Jesus could have said no and come down from the cross, but he knew that this was why he came to this earth and he knew this was the only way mankind could get right with God.  So he hung on that cross.  He was in utter agony but refused the drink that would have eased his pain.  He wanted to feel every bit of that suffering for you and me.

But this is not the toughness that I even want to talk about most this morning.  The toughness that I feel we sometimes don’t think about are those times when Jesus showed real guts and determination to say and do things that went against the religious norms and leaders of the day in an attempt to stand up for what was right and godly.  Jesus was tough on those who did the wrong thing.  He made people face the consequences of their wrong actions.  In Matthew 21 we read of the time when Jesus went to the Temple to pray and found it full of people running a Sunday Market.  The same story as recorded in John 2 shows how Jesus took the time to make a whip so he could use that to drive the money changers and the stall holders out of God’s house.  Even though he was really angry at what they had done to God’s house of prayer he took the time to prepare what he was going to do and how he was going to do it.  He came in with his whip and overturned tables and threw people out of the temple because the people were mocking God’s house. 

In Matthew 19 Jesus was asked by a rich man what he had to do to get eternal life.  Jesus told him to keep the commandments and the guy said he had done that since he was young.  But then Jesus told him that he had to sell all he had and give the money to the poor.  Jesus knew that the man was wealthy and that it would be hard for him to let go of all he owned.  Jesus even let him walk away into an eternity away from His love and grace and forgiveness because he couldn’t bring himself to give up ownership of all he had.  Jesus, if he was tender and soft, could have said for the guy to give away ten percent of all he had and that would be near enough.  But no.  He was tough with him because he knew that this guy needed to get rid of the hold money had on him so he could give his whole life to Christ.  Jesus knew the consequences of this guy’s decision to walk away, but he let him, at least in an effort to teach his disciples a lesson about the hold money and possessions can have on a person.

But then we can contrast that tough stance with our other reading from John 2 where Jesus is asked by his mother to help out the bridegroom of the wedding because he had run out of wine.  Jesus was very reluctant to do anything because he had not really begun his ministry and didn‘t want it know who he was.  But his mother was persuasive, as most mothers can be, and he showed his tender side by producing some excellent wine so the bridegroom looked great instead of being utterly embarrassed. 

So.  What can we learn from the two very important aspects of this character of Jesus?  I think there are a number of things as we look at the various stories in the bible and see how Jesus handled things.

Firstly, Just as Jesus was tender toward the little children so we need to love and care for children in the same manner.  Just as Jesus said not to hinder them from coming to him, so we must not hinder the children in our family or church family from finding faith in Jesus.  We need to do all we can to make it as easy as possible for children to learn about Christ and hopefully come to know him as their Saviour and Lord.

Secondly, we can learn that when we do wrong there will be consequences.  Jesus stood firm in his zeal for God’s temple and threw out the market people in no uncertain terms.  He stood up for what was right.  When we do right we don’t need to worry about any punishment or bad consequences, we can simply get on with life and living for God.

Thirdly, Jesus cared for his mother and others more than he cared for himself, as we saw in the story of the wedding, and did what she asked.  There were times when Jesus chose to honor others above himself.  We too need to be confident in our faith so we have a humility that honors others above ourselves.  Pride and self-centeredness should not be part of our character.  God honors those who look beyond themselves and care for others.

Fourthly, Even when Jesus was on his way to work one miracle he stopped to heal someone else.  Even when we are called by God to go and do something there can be something that comes along that we might need to deal with along the way.  That should not distract us from doing what we are meant to, but it may be part of the journey that we need to experience.

I can remember J John from the UK speaking at the Edge conference a few years ago.  Every morning he prays for opportunities to bless others and share God’s love with them.  He told how one day he was heading to a meeting but even as he was walking along the street to this meeting, he believed God was saying for him to get his shoes shone by a guy on the side of the street.   He argued with God for a moment saying he didn’t have time and that he would be late if he did this, but in the end gave up and did what he felt God told him to do, which is always the best option.  He sat there, got his shoes shone, and whilst doing so struck up a conversation with the shoe shine man.  The guy opened up to him about his life story and J John was able to encourage him and share his faith with him, even giving him one of his books, before then leaving and going to his meeting.  So even if we know God has called us to go and do something that may not be the only thing he wants us to do on the way.  We just need to be open to hearing and doing what God says.

Fifthly, we may have to suffer for believing in Jesus Christ, but in the end, we will receive God’s richest rewards for standing firm in our faith.  If you read the story of Brother Yun from China in “The Heavenly Man”, you will soon understand the kind of persecution some Christians do suffer.  He was imprisoned for years and was severely beaten and even went on a complete starvation diet for some 74 days and yet miraculously survived and he has been a real blessing to millions of people, and in turn has been blessed himself.

What we need to understand is that the true Jesus is not tough or tender, he is both.  As His brothers and sisters, children of the same God and heavenly Father, we too must be both tough and tender.  We too need to learn to be tough and stand up for what Christ would stand up for and we need to be as tender as he was in times and circumstances that require that soft heart and tender approach. 

I believe we can all grow in both these areas.  I believe we can all be a lot tougher when standing up for God’s truth and his principles, morals and standards, and at the same time we can become more caring, loving and tender toward those people and situations that need it.

That is the true heart of God and of Jesus.  As we read God’s word and get to know Jesus Christ we can certainly see that feminine side where he cares like no other, and yet we also see the masculine side that is strong and firm. 

Let’s not pigeonhole Jesus and only think of him as some meek and mild weakling who wouldn’t hurt a fly.  But let us see him as both tough and tender, willing to do whatever is right in the circumstance he finds himself.

Let’s pray.
I am sure this article would have been a blessing to you as much as it has been  to me.  Please feel free to share with me your thoughts and comments on this post.  God Bless!!

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