Jesus, Friend of All

(Hello again; hopefully I’m back for a little while. I took a small vacation from the blogging world, but I hope to get back a little bit soon. Thanks for your patience.)

Jesus was undoubtedly the most influential man in the entire Bible. There were great prophets, gifted speakers, and even radical converts, but the words that weigh heaviest and are most awe-inspiring are the ones Jesus spoke.

One of the most encouraging passages in my mind of Jesus’ is Matthew 9:10-13, where Jesus is dining with Matthew at his house.

Throughout the course of the Gospels, Jesus is tried countless times regarding the validity of His being the Son of God, and I am always fascinated by His quick and applicable answers. When the Pharisees tried to trick him by asking if the tax should be paid, He had the perfect answer, which avoided stirring up anger for either the Romans or the taxpayers. The same quick wit and ability to counter these tricks is seen in Matthew 9:10-13: “10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ 12 On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’”

Nowadays, people in high authority or power do not mingle with the lower people. They tend to stick to their high-class, enjoying the admiration they receive from the lower classes and association with the associates in the high-class. But Jesus, Friend of all, was not like that in any sense. He would eat meals on the beach with fishermen, borrow a donkey to ride, borrow a small room for His last meal, and literally lived a life of servitude to people who had no idea who He was. He did not take advantage of His being God for Himself, but used it to benefit the people. He came to heal the people, both physically in some cases and spiritual in all cases. He, in his powerful position, came not to lead but to serve the lowest people he could find. Unlucky fishermen He made his second-in-command, and a tax-collector, one of the most scorned men around, he took into His company too. He made time for the lower-class citizen’s children, and approached the ones the rest of the world avoided. He was a caring, loving God. He was a friend of all. And He still is a friend of all. He sends forth men and women to other countries, to other states, to other cities, and to their own dwellings to bring the news of Christ to the world. So how can we not speak out? How can we stay silent? How can we love and serve Jesus, who devoted His entire existence on earth to serving “the least of these”, if we don’t follow His divine example? You don’t have to be low-class to reach the needy, nor do you have to be high-class to be able to do something. Reach out to those who are neglected by the world, reach out to those who have been neglected by the rest. Serve those who have never been served before – and do it all in the name of Jesus.

I Have the Right!

So many times when our possessions are mildly threatened by friends or members of the family, we can say: “I have the right!” When they question as to why you’re eating the last of the cereal, you can joyfully say, “I have the right!” When you take a break from schoolwork or some big task you can stretch and say, “I have the right!”

Let’s look at this from a different perspective. You walk in and see your sibling(s) eating the last of the cereal. You angrily demand to know why they are eating your cereal. They smile and say, “We have the right!”

Let’s be honest, people. No one has a right to anything. Everything we have was given to us by God! Your money, your possessions, the cereal, your time, everything you think you are entitled to, God owns.

We are blessed that God lends us those things in abundance. Have you ever wondered why God doles out his blessings upon us in the U.S., but poorer, more rural countries have less? Did God just run out of supplies?

No, it’s not that at all. Actually, while there is true poverty all over the world, there are many people who are living simply and with few possessions yet feel rich and blessed. Here in the U.S., though, we have bought into the lie that more possessions = happiness, and we are racking up so much debt pursuing these relics of luxury. As Christians, we should know that true happiness comes from humility and meekness.

Why do we choose to live so luxuriously with vehicles for every occasion and huge mansions as homes? We choose it because 1.) it makes us feel important, 2.) it makes us feel better than others, 3.) we are greedy, or 4.) all of the above. That’s why they had 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class on the Titanic in 1912; it was to honor the wealthier people. Did the wealthiest people deserve the better rooms? No. Did the poor people deserve the better rooms? No. Nobody deserves anything! That’s my point today!

The attitude of entitlement is also a great burden that was supposed to be cast aside, along with the other things that hinder and entangle (Heb. 12:1) so that we can run with perseverance the race that God has marked out for us. When we feel that we’re entitled to something, we are really demanding something other than what God has for us. Am I saying that God will not give us what we demand? No. People don’t deserve a new Cadillac every three months, but some people can afford that. Which brings me to my next topic.

Just because you can afford something doesn’t mean you deserve it! And just because you feel entitled to it, especially if you can’t pay for it, that doesn’t mean that you need it. That is one of our biggest problems. We have been repeatedly told that we deserve the best and that, as Americans, we should have the best. And how do we get it? By buying more things with money that we don’t have. Because our government sets the tone and models this behavior for us, we are trillions of dollars in debt. “So”, they say, “why don’t we just get the money we need to pay off our debt from the people? We’ll take from their retirement plans, but oh! That’s not enough! So now, we’ll create taxes, you know, ‘for their retirement plans’, and then take all that too.”

The U.S. Government receives $2.5 trillion every year from taxes, and what they do with it I don’t know. But I do know that the government is getting deeper and deeper into debt. America needs to learn contentment, pay off debt, and in the meantime, live according to Jesus’ teachings – meek and humble. In that way, hopefully we would become more like him – and more considerate to ‘the least of these’.

So, where do we find ‘the least of these’? It’s definitely easier in big cities. In Houston, for example, you can find them gathering under many overpasses or holding signs at major intersections. In the smaller cities, there may not be overpasses to huddle under, and the police are better able to enforce laws that prohibit the homeless/needy from panhandling or loitering. However, if we look hard enough, they can be found. Likewise, the ‘least of these’ is not limited to the homeless/needy, but they are a good, obvious place to start. As I’ve said in other posts, mission trips don’t have to be expensive in the least. Most people think of mission trips as a week in another country eating roasted insects and sleeping on mud mats, but truly a mission trip is anywhere you go for the purpose of ministering to others. Homeless shelters are always asking for food donations! We made 100 sack lunches once and dropped them off in downtown Houston, and the cost, for our family, was minimal. So why don’t we see more things like that going on around us? Has the U.S. stopped caring about ‘the least of these’?

I don’t think so. There are lots of people who donate and give of their time for a needy cause. There are people on the street corners who are fed by people who care. Yet, there are not enough.

A big reason behind it all is that we are so busy with things of no eternal importance. Busy indulging our own selfish desires. We are simply too self focused to make the time/effort. We just want to sit around and get what should be ours. What we deserve. What we are entitled to. But the fact is, we don’t deserve anything! We should all be working together to help ‘the least of these’, and by doing that, we will learn to be content in our circumstances, grateful for what we have, and find genuine happiness. Why?

“He must become greater, I must become less (Jn. 3:30)”
“If I give all I possess to the poor and give my body over to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing (1 Cor. 13:3)”
“The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted (Matt. 23:11-12)”
“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all (Mk. 10:43-44)”