the weblog of Alan Knox

Sailing against the prevailing winds

Posted by on Jul 28, 2008 in blog links, discipleship, love, service | 5 comments

On Saturday, July 26 at 2:44 pm, Dave Black posted a picture of the start of the final chapter of the book that he’s been writing. I couldn’t help but sneak a peak…

It’s time to summarize and conclude. Are you in a mainstream congregation? In an emergent church? In a home meeting? It doesn’t really matter. The paramount question to ask is this: Are you willing to wash the feet of others? Are you willing to use your gifts to enrich the Body of Christ? Are you willing to forgo pyramids of power? Are you willing to surrender what is rightfully “yours”? In the end, it doesn’t matter what denomination or church we belong to. What matters is that we faithfully pursue the downward path of Jesus regardless of the religious structures around us. What matters is that we work from the bottom up. “Don’t be arrogant,” writes Paul, “but be friendly to humble people” (Rom. 12:16). “Excel in showing respect for one another” (Rom. 12:10). And we are to do this whether or not we agree with our brother and sister in every area.

One of the most important aspects of walking with Jesus is learning this lesson of serving different parts of the Body in times of special need, even if that means sailing against the prevailing winds.

That is all that I can read from his photo. I realize that this book will still go through an editing process, but this passage alone speaks volumes to me. This passage may not make it into the book in this form, but God is already using this words to affect me.

If the church can learn this simple lesson of humility and service, it will change the world as we know it. I don’t mean the kind of “humility and service” that causes us to stand up in front of a room of people and tell them what we know. I’m talking about the kind of “humility and service” that causes us to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty by washing dirty feet.

This lesson is simple, but very profound and completely impossible in human nature. And, we love to do things in our human nature. We even mimic social research that tells us how people like to do things in their human nature. Its time to “sail against the prevailing winds” and catch a new wind – the wind of the Spirit, who blows where he desires, not where we desire.

Jesus touched lepers, and the demon possessed, and women with fevers, and dead bodies, and the lame and blind and the deaf, and prostitutes, and heretics (Samaritans), and Gentiles, and tax collectors, and sinners. He got his hands dirty, and the religious people of his day noticed and did not like it. They accused him of every sin given by God and a few they made up on their own. And, Jesus ignored the religious professionals – except to point out that they had replaced God with a god of their own making – and he continued to touch those in need.

The religious professionals attempted to sway the crowds – telling the people that Jesus was dangerous. But, all the people could see was that Jesus loved them, and he showed that by touching them, hugging them, going to them, caring for them, providing for them. As he was doing so, he told them that God loved them so much that he came to them. He told the people about the kingdom of God – and that the kingdom was near to them. The people refused to listen to the religious leaders because they saw that Jesus cared.

Next, the religious leaders decided to kill Jesus. They insinuated that they would also kill anyone who sided with Jesus. The people gave in – even Jesus’ closest friends. But what did Jesus do? He continued to touch as many as he could, including a soldier who came to arrest him. He continued to care for as many as he could, including the thief beside him who was casting insults at him previously. He continued to love them, even his “followers” who had run away, calling on John to take care of his mother.

After Jesus crucifixion and resurrection, he “re-instated” Peter by asking Peter to care for Jesus’ flock the way that Jesus did. Peter asked about John, and Jesus said, “What does that matter to you? You follow me.”

Jesus is still calling us to follow him. It doesn’t matter what your neighbor does, or what your friend does, or what your pastor does, or what your teacher does, or what your parent does. You follow Jesus. And, Jesus is continue to lead us to touch, and care, and love, and serve. Jesus is continue to lead us to wash dirty feet. Are you willing to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty?

Disciples are not recognized by the claims to following Jesus. Disciples are recognized by actually following Jesus. It is time to “sail against the prevailing winds” and follow Jesus.


5 Comments

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  1. 7-28-2008

    Good post – I agree with the main point of the passage, but I think “doesn´t matter” in the quote is to put it too strong. I think we need a church because we are disciples, people that need training to become more like Jesus. That´s why it matters which “church” we belong to. In my opinion, believers should belong to a church where they are really trained to walk the way of Jesus. Where, for example, hierarchy and power over others is not taught through the church´s structures. We cannot become like him on our own.
    /Jonas Lundström

  2. 7-28-2008

    Deacon: Usher, you ever belong to a church that actually “trained” its people to walk the way of Jesus?

    Usher: Nope – not in over 40+ years – wasn’t in the mix

    Deacon: Either he’s smokin’ something or he’s a part of a special church

    Usher: My guess is the former – churches cannot train people in an hour on Sunday and most people in this country can’t give much more than that of their time – so he’s probably in leadership and dreamin’ that he’s really doing great things in an hour or two on Sunday

  3. 7-28-2008

    Jonas,

    I understand your concerns. Maybe Dr. Black will explain what he meant by “it doesn’t matter” when he returns from his trip.

    Deacon and/or Usher,

    Smoking something? Nope. Actually training and expecting people to walk with Jesus? Yep.

    -Alan

  4. 7-28-2008

    Alan,

    I am totally onside with Dave and yourself on this!

    One of the great truths that must become a living reality in people for this to happen is that they realize that the work of the Holy Spirit, in causing us to become disciples, automatically inducts us into membership of the Body of Christ, His congregation or Church.

    For decades, church attenders, or those who have been made members of an organization called “church” have been led to believe that very action makes them members of Christ’s Body, therefore, disciples.

    As I understand it,the noun “disciple”, by strict definition, is one who sits (a position of humility) at the feet of another to learn.

    If that is so, we must ask ourselves,”At whose feet do we humbly sit and learn”? Do we sit at the feet of Jesus, or, someone who claims to be our “teacher”?

    Paul was certain of the answer to that as he challenged the Christians at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:12ff).

    A leader, who is ministering Biblically, will ALWAYS seek to cause those he teaches to “sit” at the feet of Jesus.

    As you say,”It is time to sail against the prevailing wind”, which today, and for many years, has been oriented to elevate man, whether “pope”,”cardinal”, “bishop”, “priest”, “pastor” or “minister”, or whatever other title can be found, as a stand-in for Christ.

    Leadership, for many years has reversed John’s words spoken in 3:30,”He must increase, but I must decrease.”

    We either have our hearts,minds, lives,directions and loyalties changed by the work of the Holy Spirit, or we make human centered “decisions” to give our loyalty to a man or organization of which we have chosen to become a part.

    We are either disciples of Christ, or disciples of men or organizations! We cannot be both! Divided loyalties cannot work!

    It’s worth noting that in Matt.10 Jesus Himself identifies the true relationship in which He stands with those who truly belong to Him: He is their Teacher, they His disciples; He is their Lord,they His servants; He is the Master of the household to which they now belong.

    Of course, in the context of which He is speaking, because of this relationship,those who are as He designates, disciples, servants and members of His household, cannot expect better than reception than He.

  5. 7-29-2008

    Aussie John,

    Once again, your comment is better than my post. Thank you!

    -Alan