God of Love, Holiness, and POWER - Matthew 9

Thoughts from today’s reading of Matthew 9…

Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2 Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!” 4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” 7 Then the man got up and went home. 8 When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.

When we were in Cuba, we experienced powerful healings—both physical and emotional. All of it took compassion and simple faith. One of the clearest characteristics of our team was the incredible compassion that they had for the Cubans. And because there were such deep needs all around us, our compassion meters were off the charts. Our Cuban hosts told us again and again how well we represented the Father’s love. Their gratitude moved me deeply. However, as I observed the ways that we loved and the kind of “Holy” lifestyle we portrayed to our hosts (they were so impressed by how well we lived the Christian life), I couldn’t help but wonder about something. What is different between the loved and lifestyle that we exhibited with other “non-Christian” groups? My conclusion was that it actually wasn’t much. In fact, some of those groups did love and “holiness” even better than us! So the question that I wrestled with is what sets us apart? And what God revealed to me on this trip was this – a demonstration of His love and Holiness is actually not enough to draw people to Him.

It’s obvious that God is the one who moves people’s hearts to Himself. However, when we are called to partner with Him to grow His Kingdom, we have to realize that there is a significant part that He has called us to steward as well. I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ has been good at representing His love. It’s even been good at representing His Holiness (even to a fault – which has led to religiosity). But as we can see from today’s reading, while Jesus demonstrated both perfectly, there was ultimately something else that He demonstrated – His power. His power and authority, unfortunately, is something that we have not represented well as a church. Why is that? Well, I think it’s because loving people and living a Holy life (at least portraying it!) is a lot easier to do than actually demonstrating His power. The demonstration of God’s power isn’t the end all to our journey of faith. However, as it is definitely a means to draw people to Jesus and ultimately to the Father, it is something that definitely and desperately needs more attention. Again, I’m not saying that it’s the most important aspect of our faith. What I discovered on this trip, however, is that the POWER of God is JUST AS IMPORTANT a characteristic of God that we must be prepared to represent as all His other characteristics--because as we can see in today’s text, Jesus certainly did. #desiringGod2017

Love, Sam