Summary: In Week two of this series we look at how Jesus shaped our view of "The Least of These"
Who is this Man? The Least of Theses
It was John Lennon who said, “Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me.” And from what I hear when I talk to people and read what people have to say about Jesus that seems to be the common opinion. Jesus was all right but Christians not so much. People, even unchurched people have this view of Jesus who was super compassionate and loving, never judging and always forgiving. And they like that about Jesus, and they don’t feel that they see that in those who call themselves by his name, by his church. As a matter of fact the church as often seen as just the opposite of Jesus. The church is often seen as uncaring and unloving, judgemental and unforgiving.
And too often when Christians hear people make disparaging remarks about the church they find themselves nodding and apologizing. In fact I’ve been guilty of that myself, of talking about how the church is made up of imperfect people and quoting people like Ghandi who supposedly said “If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today.”
I remember reading and agreeing with the statement “The church is like Noah’s Ark, if it wasn’t for the judgment on the outside you would never be able to stand the smell on the inside.” And I have had to repent of that attitude. It is a disservice to both the church and to Christ. Over and over again the bible refers to the church as the bride of Christ and it must grieve him when people say “I love you but I can’t stand your wife.”
Last week I mentioned that the life of Jesus shaped the world as we know it today. I would clarify and elaborate on that by saying I truly believe that the life of Jesus has a shaped the world for the better. That the best parts of the world as we know it today are a direct result of Jesus. And that has happened not because a man named Jesus lived and died 2000 years ago. Last week as we began this series we looked at what we as a church believe about Jesus. And that in our statement of faith it says that our beliefs are in line with historic Christianity. And then we looked at what that meant in our beliefs about Jesus. That he is the Son of God, that he was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin, that his death on the cross was in atonement for our sins and that on the third day he rose from the dead. This we believe.
But those aren’t the things that have shaped the world for the better. You see, Jesus’ greatest contribution to the world wasn’t that he was the son of God, who was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. The greatest thing that Jesus did wasn’t dying on a cross or being raised from the dead. And it wasn’t how he lived; it wasn’t because he was loving and kind and compassionate. Because if all that Jesus left for the world was Jesus, he would simply be a foot note in history, if that.
But Jesus didn’t just leave his teaching, Jesus didn’t just leave his example, the most important thing that Jesus left was his church. You see Jesus’ greatest contribution to the world was his Church.
Last week we looked into Matthew 16 where Jesus asked the apostles who they believed he was, and after Peter had replied and said “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” Jesus responded and said Matthew 16:18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.”
The bedrock of the church, the foundation of the church was to be that acknowledgment that Jesus is the Son of God, that Jesus is the Messiah. And on that foundation a bunch of people who had nothing going for them, other than the one they followed, changed the world.
Without Christ there would be no Christ Followers, there would be no church. And for some people that wouldn’t be much of an issue because they haven’t seen the church as a positive influence.
It was Friedrich Nietzsche who said “I call Christianity the one great curse, the one great intrinsic depravity, the one great instinct for revenge for which no expedient is sufficiently poisonous, secret, subterranean, petty -- I call it the one immortal blemish of mankind.”
But then again this was the same Nietzsche who was cared for as an orphan by his Christian Grand Parents, who was educated in a university that was started by the church, who was treated in a hospital founded by the church, who died in 1900 the Year of our Lord and was buried in a Christian graveyard.