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Monday, March 19, 2012

Offensive Discipleship - John - pages 378-386

I read something recently that I have not been able to get out of my mind written by Gandhi called the “Seven Social Sins”…
"The "seven social sins"
Knowledge without character
Science without humanity
Wealth without work
Commerce without morality
Politics without principles
Pleasure without conscience
Worship without self-sacrifice.

- Gandhi

Jesus, more than anyone, knew the danger of watching him but not following him. Of listening to him but not living for him. Of enjoying the Christian experience without ever experiencing it for yourself. In fact, there is a passage the marks a time when Jesus was so passionate about inviting people into the Christ-following culture, that he offended and was deserted by all of his fans only to be left with his followers.

John 6:53-69
53Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." 59He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
Many Disciples Desert Jesus
60On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?"
61Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? 62What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit[e] and they are life. 64Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him."
66From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
67"You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve.
68Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."

To some the message of Jesus felt like a sorting out…when, in fact, it was a sorting in. It was not a weeding out, it was an inviting in. We see John 6 as a loss of 4000 when it was in fact a genuine grafting of 12. Jesus never got lost in numbers, which is to say that he understood the difference between quality and quantity. 

We have been called to more than onlooking and by-standing. We are invited to sink our teeth into all that Jesus is and is about. We are called to bite into it, to chew it, move in back and forth from one side of our molars to the other grinding it into mushy morsels crushed down ready to be swallowed whole leaving nothing to spit out but the aftertaste. We are then called to digest it into ourselves letting it nourish us and eventually become a part of who we are turning into the very regeneration of our own flesh and blood and breath. It is to be felt stirring and gurgling in our bowels being broken down into a life source that feeds and fuels our every movement and thought. The aftertaste only makes us hungry for more, leaving us whetted for yet another bite of His very essence.

To some this is offensive. I would concur. Jesus was always on the offensive as it relates to the kingdom. He was not taking his cues from man wondering about what was relevant or convenient or expedient. He was not defensively waiting to see how things were received making his next move reactively in order to keep peace with the masses. He was on the offensive which was offensive to many, yet his vision was staid and his desire was passionately precise. There was no riding the fence or playing the field, no neutral ground or holding pattern that became a compound of casual complacency.  He forced people to make a decision about his cause. And he did so unapologetically.

As barbaric as it sounds, as politically incorrect or culturally irrelevant as it may seem, we have been invited, are currently being invited, and will always and only be invited in the future to “eat Jesus alive”…no scraps left on the table…and when we have devoured him like ravenous wolves, we will be left with no greater desire than to lick the plate.

Again, it is not a “kicking out” message, but an unabashed invitation into the culture of the Kingdom that won’t be treated like a dainty appetizer. It will only be realized and actualized when it is consumed like an extravagant feast, for that it what it is.

Jesus, I want to eat you alive.

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