When you think of Jesus, how do you see Him? Do you view Him as a man who welcomes the little children to come and sit on His lap? Do you see Him on the hillside teaching His followers about the great love of God?
When you think of His teachings, which ones come to mind? Do you think of the great commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” Or do you think of the miracles He did to show God’s glory?
We are often drawn to the picture of Jesus as loving Savior, going to the cross and dying for our sins so we can be free. This is an accurate picture of our Lord – one that, through belief in Him, brings us wholeness and renewed life in Him. But that picture is only part of Jesus’ nature and character. There is another part of His nature that often makes us uncomfortable.
When you think of Jesus, do you see Him challenging the status quo and uncovering the self-righteous motives of those who think they are right? Do you see Him breaking down walls between Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, those with influence and those without? Do you see Him pushing back against the influential and affirming the humbly and lowly?
When you think of His teachings, which ones come to mind? Do you think of the way He turned culture’s expectations upside down in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5? How do you deal with the difficult teaching that not everyone who simply calls out His name will be saved (Matthew 7:21) or that belief and life in Him is the onlyway to Heaven (John 14:6)? Are you comfortable with the fact that He commanded each of us (not just pastors) to make disciples (Matthew 28:16-20)? Or that He tells us our forgiveness of others affects the way He forgives us (Matthew 6:14-15)?
As we think about becoming more receptive, we must first be open to seeing the fullness of Jesus and His teachings; not just the part of Him that makes us feel comfortable and safe. Belief in Jesus isn’t safe. Giving yourself fully to God isn’t comfortable. You can’t hold on to who you are and become more like Jesus. There must be a complete release and a receptivity to follow Him into the hard places and do the inner work of breaking down your opinions, preferences and perceptions and seeing the world through His lens.
As you move through your day today, spend time praying this breath prayer: as you inhale say, “Open my eyes.” As you exhale say, “Soften my heart.” As you pray this simple prayer, you will find yourself moving into the difficult places where you are challenged to see the world as Jesus does and become more like Jesus for the sake of others.