Words and Deeds That Restore

HarvestfestGraphics_2Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. Matthew 4:22-23

Twenty million emails were written in the time it took to read this sentence. That’s a lot of words. We live in a world where information and words can invade and clutter our lives through tweets, text messages, Facebook posts, emails, and countless other media.

Jesus’ days were much less cluttered with words. Yet he had something to say. He proclaimed powerful, truthful, life-changing words. He also performed amazing deeds that healed and restored lives. Jesus’ words and his actions were not only life-giving, they were also the embodiment of something huge and real: the kingdom of God.

In Matthew 4:19, Jesus’ call to his first disciples—“follow me and I will send you out to fish for people”—has a hint of the changes in store for them, changes that would impact their sense of identity and place in the world. As Peter, Andrew, James, and John left their boats and families to follow Jesus, Matthew records that Jesus then went throughout the region of Galilee proclaiming “the good news of the kingdom,” the “good news” that God’s saving reign had broken into human history through him, the promised Messiah.

Throughout his narrative, Matthew portrayed the kingdom of God in varied ways: God’s kingdom is his sovereign rule over all of creation. In Jesus, God’s kingdom has been inaugurated and will one day be consummated. The kingdom of God is mysterious. It begins small and is barely noticed, like a mustard seed in the ground. The kingdom of God belongs to all those who put their faith in Jesus—both Jew and non-Jew. The kingdom of God points to a new creation where sin, disease, and affliction no longer exist. We have evidence of the new creation ahead whenever encounters with Jesus lead to healing or life change. The kingdom is all about humility and childlike faith. And there is more.

Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom in his words, and his demonstration of it in his works of healing, show that he loves human beings in their totality—mind and body, soul and spirit. Followers of Jesus are people of his kingdom, called to love their neighbors both in word and deed.

Tom Keppeler

PONDER: How do your actions and words show love to those you encounter?

SermonontheMount

 

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• RETHINKING HOW WE PRESENT THE GOSPEL •

by Frank Viola

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

However, I believe the way that the gospel is presented should differ depending on the people with whom we share it.

This requires sensitivity to the Spirit and attention to the person’s heart. Jesus Christ didn’t present Himself the same way to everyone.

To some, He warned. To others, He rebuked. To some, He showed compassion and mercy. To some, He asked questions or told parables, etc.

Here are several things to keep in view when speaking about Jesus:

  • Try to listen intently to the person and ask them questions. Listen outwardly.
  • Try to be sensitive to the Spirit while talking to them. Seek to discover what God has already done and is doing in their heart. Listen inwardly.
  •  Look for an opportunity to allow the love of Christ to bleed through in their circumstances. Embody the gospel.
  • Never view an individual as a project, but as a person. A fellow human being. No more or less deserving than myself. The attitude is that of one beggar telling another where to find bread.

The goal is never to “close the deal.” (As a young believer, I thought that was the name of the game and did some damage as a result.) The goal is to be obedient to the Lord in the moment. The results are with him. And sometimes they don’t show up for years. In fact, you may never end up seeing them in this life.

Keep in mind also that one of the greatest testimonies to the world that Jesus of Nazareth is indeed who He claimed to be is when His people love one another visibly (John 17).

Like the pagan of old once said upon observing the Christians, “Behold how they love one another.” May it be so again . . .

Adapted from the blog of Frank Viola. Used with permission.

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FAMILY TALK

Through Jesus the kingdom of God came to humanity. Everywhere Jesus went he showed us glimpses of the restoration that will come when the kingdom of God is fully consummated. We too are members of this kingdom. We can help spread the kingdom through the ways we love in words and actions.

Read Matthew 4:22-23 and Matthew 22:36-40. In Matthew 4, Jesus calls his disciples. What was the mission he called his disciples to? How can Matthew 22 help us understand what Jesus is calling us to? Who is someone in your life whom you can love through your words and actions this week? How does loving others help them understand more about God?

5 thoughts on “Words and Deeds That Restore”

  1. “The Kingdom is all about HUMILITY . . .”
    There is a life-long struggle! I can think “I am loving and kind – I epitomize showing others Jesus-like love” rather than “because I am deeply loved by Jesus, I have love to spare”. “My natural inborn nature is to be generous” rather than “God has gifted me with so much that I am compelled to share”. My willingness to do the most disgusting, dirtiest clean-up can be “I am better than x who won’t dirty his/her hands”. The ability to discern the pain behind others words and then give comfort can be “MY ability” rather than the gifting of God. My carrying a snot-nosed filthy kid who reeks of urine can be “look at me” rather than “look at Him”. So many things CAN be about self. Any time I compare myself to anyone else is pride. Humility just flies out the window so fast! Even now, I want to proclaim – “but many/most of the good things I do are for Jesus” when I know in my heart that I am NOT that humble. Always thankful for His grace . . .

    1. Thanks Laurel for your reflections about humility. Humility is the anti-thesis of pride, which C.S. Lewis alluded to in his writings as the mother of all sins. . . . I also like what Tim Keller says in one of his books that humility is not about thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less– this in his little book, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness. . .

  2. Always follow Jesus’ examples in everything. A good guide is to ask, what would Jesus say or do? Let the Holy Spirit guide you.
    Love on another as Jesus loves you.
    Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and let God do His work in His will and timing.

    Prayers and love

  3. When my mother was diagnosed with Dementia Alzheimer’s she became a child to her children to care for — we became her “mommy.” She was a gentle soul but had bouts of not wanting to be in the place she was…and oh my goodness rightly so! But in those times we held her hands, gently rubbing them with the love that came from our hearts through our own hands — those hands cared for us and now the Lord gave us the opportunity to give to her. It humbled us…it also emotionally crippled us for her, broke our hearts for her, but let us love her like never before. We bathed her, toileted her, cut her food up for her and closer to the end of her earthly journey fed her…and yet through all those challenging times I can still see in my mind’s heart the sweetest smile and the loving voice singing to me “I love you a bushel and a peck…” Humbled by His grace through the gift of loving and caring for His daughter — who He gifted to me as my earthly mother — in all her human frailities, mishaps, parenting errors — All forgotten! He gave me three hard, precious, humbling years to look beyond everything to find the humbling loving grasp of Christ through another in this life…He replaced my longings with fulfilling her needs and restored my soul… His Kingdom of honest Christ giving love – praise His Name!

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