We like to think of ourselves as independent and unique, but the truth is: we are predictable and gravitate toward uniformity. Those who know me well have, at some point, heard me talk about observable patterns, they interest me. There are community patterns, cultural patterns, generational patterns, relationship patterns, and historically cyclical patterns to name just a few. One example is the USA’s failure as a nation to learn from its history of foreign interference, but I digress…
If you have read any of my last four posts, then you have been taking part in an experiment I’ve been conducting regarding the type of people and people groups who will respond to different types of topics and wordings of those topics (IE: the pointless addition of the word “sex” to the title). Then, matching that response with which of those same people will respond by searching keyword phrases unique to the blog post (analytics software is an amazing thing). My observation so far: People are predictable.
But back to the point…
Most of us tend to voluntarily place ourselves into categories/lifestyles into which we envision we fit. It can be hipster, goth, preppy, freegan (that’s a thing, look it up), or something else. We each think we’re unique, but we’re really not. We fall into routines and cycles until someone or something comes along and messes it up.
This is where the “Jesus” part comes in:
Jesus came to earth and, it seemed (seems) to many people, he messed everything up. He entered a culture that was intended to be an example of what humans living in relationship with God could look like, but had turned themselves into a people who constructed a wall between God and man. What did he do? He showed a better way.
He showed that we can actually live differently than everyone else. We can pursue more valuable things than the self-centeredness of power, wealth, and material accumulations. Here’s where we need to be careful though: just like the ancient Israelites, we have a tendency to make a system out of what Jesus taught. We rebuild that artificial wall between God and man.
Regardless of what your church or denomination may tell you, Jesus did not demonstrate with clarity what it looks like for a community to pursue him. I believe it is because he knew it would look different in every culture and era. Our job is not to be a people who try to imitate what people were doing 2,000 years ago by analyzing how they lived out their faith in a culture that is completely foreign to ours. There is no formula, business or otherwise, for it either. If we are to live for Christ effectively, we must ask ourselves what it looks like to do those things today.
What are those things?
Jesus describes in Matthew 25 the way God expected the listeners to react toward the forgotten of their society. Think about who in your community, society, or world are those who tend to be forgotten, looked over, or pushed to the side… the people we tend to ignore or devalue…
…Then go be nice to them and serve them.
Many people won’t understand, because it doesn’t fit the self-serving pattern of the world.
It won’t be the predictability of selfish pursuit. It will mess up that order and turn you into a person who is actually different and unique.