But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (NIV)
When we look at the life of Jesus, I am always amazed by the company he kept. As he prepared to usher in the Kingdom, launching God’s great rescue mission, he pulled together a small group of people to help him lead in the work. They were meant to be his partners in mission, co-laborers for the gospel. You would think he would step back and strategically make his choices. Perhaps as in the film Oceans 11, he would seek out experts in their fields, pulling together a “dream team” to enable their mission to succeed, or at least have the possibility of pulling off the impossible.
Surely Jesus would recruit religious leaders, scholars of Jewish law, and people with political influence within the Roman Empire. Instead, Jesus pulled together the most unremarkable collection of people you could possibly imagine! Jesus built his church by partnering with fishermen, tax collectors, and tent makers, as well as spending his free time in fellowship with prostitutes and lepers. Perhaps we’ve come to be so familiar with these stories that we fail to see the radical and even scandalous nature of the gospel?
The scandal of the gospel is that God draws near to us in our brokenness and in our failure. Jesus doesn’t look for a finished product but instead seeks a heart that is open to his love. The Lord sees in us that which we are unable to see in ourselves. He believes in a future filled with life and love and partnership in his kingdom, yet far too often we view ourselves as static, finished products without any hope for growth or change. As such, we content ourselves with lesser loves and resign ourselves to a life of frustration and disappointment.
As C.S. Lewis masterfully stated in The Weight of Glory, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Do you believe that God is able to welcome you as a partner and co-laborer in his Kingdom? Regardless of your level of education, financial ability, or social status, every single person is beloved by God and therefore welcomed into a dynamic relationship of love, in which we learn what it means to delight in his will and walk in his ways. No matter the sense of shame or guilt that you bear for current or past sins, the Lord looks on you with love and unending affection and says, “come, follow me” (Matthew 4:19).
Prayer: Father, remind me afresh that I am beloved by you and welcomed into your kingdom as a child and co-laborer in mission.
Application: How have you failed to see yourself as Jesus sees you?