Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Contrarian View From the Pew: Prophets and Home Towns

Chapter four in the Gospel of Luke records how Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit and led by the Holy Spirit to teach in Galilee, the region around Galilee, and then in Nazareth. According to the account, Jesus became recognized and praised and honored by all of the people of the region of Galilee. However, the response to Jesus and his teachings in Nazareth was completely different. Those who heard him marveled at his words, not because of what he said, but because of who he was; after all, he was the son of Joseph; one of their own. After he was finished speaking, the Nazarene crowd tried to kill him because he made it clear that he was not one of them, but he was the ONE who was the fulfillment of Scripture; He was the Son of God. Before he was run out of town, Jesus made the statement that a prophet is never welcome or accepted in his own home town.

As a contrarian, I love this account in the life of Jesus. It affirms to me, that I don’t need acceptance in order to express a valid point or proclaim a true idea. In fact, it has been my experience over the years that truth has nothing to do with popular opinion. Sometimes the majority gets it right and sometimes the majority gets it wrong. As a contrarian, I am encouraged that it is acceptable to not be accepted.

As a believer who is committed to the spread of Christianity, I also love this account in the life of Jesus. It affirms to me that there will be times when the truth is rejected by the people who look at who I am instead of who HE is. As a believer, I am encouraged that the results I produce are not always a reflection of the validity of my message, but sometimes rejection is part of the mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Also, as a believer who is passionate about doing things right the first time, designing and refining the best methods, measuring results, and avoiding side effects, there is a cautionary note to this account. If the Son of God could not even place a small crack in the hearts of the community he knew and was a part of up until he started his ministry, then maybe sending new believers right back to their family and friends to proclaim the Gospel may not be the best or most effective way for them to use their gifts and talents for the Kingdom of Heaven. Maybe in order to avoid and prevent the side effects, new believers need to be encouraged to take a little time before proclaiming the Gospel instead of jumping head first into a shark infested pool.

1 comment:

Buz said...

Again I agree with you. Evangelism is not the sport of new believers. Jesus took three years to train the disciples, and He STILL told them to wait on the Holy Spirit before starting to preach.

Some will say that St. Paul begain immediately, HOWEVER ... (1) He had strong religious training his entire life before embarking on his evangelical career, (2) he underwent a focused and concentrated training before being allowed to preach, (3) he spent several years as an apprentice before he struck out on his own, and (4) Jesus appeared directly to him. In that, I think St. Paul was an exception.

The disciples were trained by Jesus; Timothy was trained by Paul; the first deacons (who, as soon as they were commissioned to serve in the kitchen went out and preached!!!!) were long time followers of Jesus ... I am beginning to see a pattern here.

I am not sure where you are coming from, brother, but in most of the churches I have attended, new believers are counciled to attend a "new believers" class or "basic Christianity" class before they are permitted in any external ministries. (Having said that, when a new believer has the Joy of Salvation bubbling over in their life, it is pretty hard to tell them "now don't tell a soul about this", because they have usually found the freedom from sin and guilt and/or the release from some life-controling addiction such an elating experience that they want to tell everyone what has happened to them. It is usually impossible to quiet them, and I am not sure that it wouldn't be a sin to try.)

Buz