A oneliner in an online Bible-study lecture just made me laugh. And then, it got me thinking.
The lecture was about how the God of the Old Testament seems so angry and violent and scary. And yet in the New Testament, when Jesus comes, he is none of those things. Jesus claimed to be God. And yet, Jesus was gentle and kind and served people with love. The lecturer said, "What happened to the God of the Old Testament between Malachi and Matthew? Did he give his heart to Jesus or something?"
Well, yes. Yes, Jesus does have God’s heart.
But he had it long long before Malachi. Like forever long.
Jesus has always been at the heart of God.
Jesus came to Earth to completely reveal the character of God. In fact, he said, “If you have seen me, you've seen the Father.” So what is God like? Well, Jesus cared for the poor, fed the hungry and healed the broken.
God was not updated in Jesus. Our understanding of God was updated.
Before Jesus visited, It was like the God Channel had really poor reception on Planet Earth. No matter where you stood in the room or how you adjusted things, the picture was mostly snow with a shadowy image way off in the background. The picture was poor and the sound was either way too loud or non-existent. The problem wasn’t with God, it was with us. Our spiritual aerial was mucked up with sin. The only way to fix the situation was for God to do something – in person.
So God came down and dwelt among us. He lived next door. He wore our clothes, spoke our language and showed us what he looks like. In his life and his death, Jesus cleared up the misconceptions of God. In his life, he modelled the servant heart of God. And in his death, he installed a permanent pole-top signal booster for the God Channel. Now, God comes through picture perfect – in Jesus.
Jesus lived a cross shaped life and died a cross shaped death. He expected his presence to tune us in –perfectly – to God. When the disciples asked Jesus to show God to them, He said, “How long have I been with you and you still ask me to show you the Father?” Every word. Every deed. Everything he was – was God.
Jesus’ death on a cross was the ultimate act of service that God could do for his lost children on planet Earth. The cross installed on Earth a clear image of the Father in Heaven. We get God now – loud and clear – anytime we come to the cross. The cross reveals the God who serves and calls us to be a people who serve.
Service saves people. Service shapes people.
I just came home from the hospital last night. I had a cancerous tumour removed from my right kidney. One night, the nurse asked me what the book I was reading was about. I told her it was about Christians in the Early Church and how they changed the world. She said, “Wow! So how did they do it?”
“By being like you!” I smiled and continued, “The first Christians were focused on service – they cared for the sick, they looked after the unlovely, they fed people who needed food.” I paused and smiled at her, “True followers of Jesus are like nurses.”
“I didn’t know that,” She said quietly.
“Most people don’t.” I said, “Thank you for changing my world!”
She smiled and said, “You’re welcome!”
Serving other people, day in and day out, changes you. I call nurses “God’s undercover angels” because they really are.
Now, it’s your turn. Look to the cross. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Rediscover the servant heart of God.
Then go change the world!