Pastor Steve's Blog Posts
If I were to ask you to close your eyes and picture Jesus, what image would come to your mind? For me, it's a smiling Jesus with his arms wide open to welcome me, hug me, comfort me, accept me. Or maybe I'd revert back to one of the pictures of Jesus most common in my childhood - Jesus the Good Shepherd carrying a sheep around his neck; or Jesus holding a lantern knocking on a door. Are those accurate pictures of Christ? Absolutely. But they are incomplete pictures. Yes, Jesus is the loving Son, the Good Shepherd, and the One knocking on the door of my heart. But he also had a wild side.
Holy Week always reminds me of the time Jesus throws a holy temple tantrum. I wish an artist could capture the fire in His eyes or the flex in His muscles. He turned over tables. He threw out the money-changers. And He did it while wielding a whip He made Himself. Take that, Indiana Jones! Interestingly, my Grandfather Bullmer's memorial service at Christy Memorial UMC in St. Louis (the time and place where I received my Grandfather's choir cross) was held in worship on Palm Sunday ... and that was the bulletin cover. I still have that bulletin, and look at that picture from time to time.
I love the way Dorothy Sayers described the wild side of His personality:
To do them justice, the people who crucified Jesus did not do so because he was a bore. Quite the contrary; he was too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround Him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have declawed the lion of Judah and made Him a housecat for pale priests and pious old ladies. ("The Greatest Drama Ever Staged," in Letters to a Diminished Church [Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2004])
I would love to have seen the look on the disciples' faces when Jesus went on his holy temple tantrum. I think their jaws dropped. But it also jogged their memories
Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: "Passion for God's house will consume me." (John 2:17)
Jesus wasn't just the wisest or kindest person who ever lived. He was also the most passionate. In fact, the final week of His life sets the standard. It is known as the Passion. And it's epitomized by the drops of blood that came out of His holy pores as He agonized over going to the cross. When we love God with all our strength it's expressed in sweat. Jesus' love for us was expressed in bloody sweat.
Those who follow in the footsteps of Christ ought to be the most passionate people on the planet. The word enthusiasm comes from a combination of two Greek words: en and Theos. It means "in God." And the more you get into God, the more passionate you become. As we learn to love God with all our strength, He doesn't crucify our desires. He sanctifies them and intensifies them. God doesn't find our desires too strong. He finds them too weak. In the words of C. S. Lewis, "We are half-hearted creatures fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us."
Sin is a waste of energy. Plain and simple. It's wasting your energy on things you can't have or can't control. And it's actually a double waste. After you waste your energy on things like lust and pride and anger, then you have to waste even more energy on things like guilt and shame and regret. Nothing is more de-energizing than sin. But by the same token, nothing is more reenergizing than obedience to God's purpose for your life. It's pure energy.
No one was more energetic than Jesus. He cast out demons, healed the sick, loved the outcasts, and taught the crowds. And He did all of that while defending Himself against the Pharisees and dealing with the insecurities and ineptitudes of His own disciples. Of course, that's not to mention He got up early, stayed up late, and pulled all-nighters. So the obvious question is this: where did all that energy come from? The answer is found in a fascinating dialogue.
His disciples urged him, "Rabbi, eat something."
But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about.
Then his disciples said to each other, "Could someone have brought him food?"
"My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work." (John 4:31-34)
The point Jesus made went right over the heads of the disciples, and we often miss it, too. "Food" means energy because that's what it is. Food has caloric value. And Jesus makes a profound point here: the will of God is energizing. That's what I feel after preaching all weekend, teaching Disciple and leading L.I.F.E. classes. That's what many of you have expressed you feel after coming home from Mississippi.
So how do you stay energized? Keep doing what God has called you to do. Pursue your God-ordained passions and go after God-sized dreams. Nothing is more energizing.
And if you haven't already, make the commitment to put a lot of energy into Holy Week. Attend the Thursday Christian Seder. Come to the cantata. Get down on your knees in prayer during our Prayer Vigil. Walk the walk of Saturday's Journey to the Cross. Find out why they call this week the Passion of Christ. And then, come to Easter and find out what Jesus was so passionate about: He was passionate about saving you.
Your servant in Christ,