My impersonal relationship with Jesus

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My impersonal relationship with Jesus

This post is going to be a collection of scattered thoughts largely inspired by a Keegan Davids sermon last night [so attribute all wisdom nuggets to him]. He managed to put a lot of good words on some of the things i think and feel and know…

Disciples over Converts

“Discipleship has collective implications for us and people” – Sho, this thought was too deep and could be unpacked for days. One of the biggest problems with the church as a whole is that for too long we tended to focus on converts and not disciples. Conversion being a one moment thing and discipleship being a rest-of-your-life journey. But with the greatest commandment [one] of Love God [with all your heart, soul, strength, mind] AND Love your neighbour as yourself… the collective implication is not just implied, it is commanded.

This links very closely to another point Keegs made which we don’t hear enough of:

Personal Relationship with Jesus is a Lie

“Breaking down the idea of a personal relationship with Jesus” – That is a lie many of us grew up with. The helpful-for-some analogy that accompanied it was “Inviting the Lord Jesus into your heart” although the problem of that compartmentalisation is that it assumes there are places Jesus is not invited into and people have lived as if that bit were true for years… my money for example – how you can call yourself a christian and not invite Jesus into your money is beyond me, especially when we have such a powerful story of the encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus and while we miss most of the conversation, we do get to see the fruits of it which is Zacchaeus declaring:

“Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” [Luke 19]

What is super interesting and what i don’t think i’ve ever heard preached [someone invite me to preach!!!] is Jesus response to this:

“Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

So it is when Zacchaeus invites Jesus into his money, not his heart, that salvation is declared.

brettfish emoji

Have you invited Jesus into your money? What about your work? Where you live? Who you spend time with? How you holiday/do entertainment? How you interact with people who are in service roles to you?

So that is the aspect of “invite Jesus into your heart” which i have issues with, but probably even more problematic is the idea we have created and bought into of having “a personal relationship with Jesus”.

The idea of independence and hedonism and it’s-all-about-me’ness which the western world is very much a huge cheerleader of, somehow worked it’s way into the church, which is not meant to be like that at all. As this stunning picture of early church seems to indicate:

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke breadin their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Rather there is a strong interdependence that exists. The idea of the African ‘Ubuntu’i am because you are – as well as that fantastic African proverb – It takes a village to raise a child. The idea of the church in 1 Corinthians 12 where it speaks strongly about us needing each other. The idea of religion that God favours in both James and Matthew 25 [sheep and goats] and right back to the greatest commandment [Love God and love people] screams against any possible idea that this thing can ever be purely personal.

Worship culture has largely bought into it. Ideas like “my calling” and “the vision for my life” and other me-focused analogies help us to buy into the idea that we can follow Jesus in a vaccuum. But that idea sucks. #YesIJustWroteThoseTwoSentencesIntoEachOther

The Footprints poem picture on the beach is also misleading because as much as we are asking where the second set of footprints is when things get tough, we should also be asking where the third and fourth and fifth and sixth and fiftieth set of footprints are because the church is meant to show up when things get tough. And when things are just fine. There should be no such thing as a personal relationship with Jesus.

Each one of us is personally responsible for our lived out expression of our faith, our dying to self, taking up our cross and following Him and we will stand before God individually and so there is that… but our lived out Jesus following has to be done with others. We should rather speak of our communal relationship with God.

The Chains of Freedom

My freedom is linked to yours – I cannot be free if you are not free – Does anything more need to be said about this? Of course this is not a Keegan Davids original but it does need to be said again and again, until we get it. And then some.

Imagine if we all believed that we could not be free until everyone was free? Imagine if multi-billionaires believed that, if they would do anything different with their money. But also imagine if however-wealthy-you-are-right-now-and-if-youre-reading-this-on-a-computer-or-phone-probably-pretty-wealthy believed this was true, would i live any differently? Should you? It’s never too late to change, until it is.

What are you devoted to?

“Next up was Acts 2.42-47”, one of my favourite passages and although i have heard it so many times, it was just four words that jumped out at me as Keegan  used it last night:

they devoted themselves to

What ARE you devoted to? No, really? We know Jesus is the right answer. Or Jesus and people as we saw above. But what are you really truly devoted to? Some would say you can work out the answer to this by following the paper trail… what do you spend the majority of your money on? [which is perhaps why i have always struggled somewhat with churches whose budgets go mostly to buildings and salaries, having benefited from both] We could get an even deeper understanding by looking at how you spend your time, skills, energy in addition to your cash dolla!

How goes that addiction?

“Our lives are interconnected – my addiction to comfort affects other people” – Sho, this one was a between-the-eyes moment.

My addiction to comfort. Sit with that for a few minutes. Or a day. Or this whole week. The rest of 2017? How does it feel or are you quick to dismiss it and move on. “Ah, he’s not talking me me.” i know i’m talking to me… so it just might be you as well.

And that was just the acknowledgement of ‘addiction to comfort’ – but to take it a step further and say that it affects other people? Wow, that’s starting to get deep.

i’m worried that so many people last night just heard Keegan preaching a preach and left the building thinking, ‘good preach’ and by the time they got home it was the distant memory of a good preach and not at all these atomic bombs that he casually dropped all over the place.

Don’t just cross the street and walk on and pretend that you have nothing to do with that guy lying in the gutter [that guy just might be you, after all]

P.S.

Sho, i feel like that’s enough so i will just drop the other two phrases i wrote on my phone in here to do with what you will:

Power of the Holy Spirit

Image bearers

How we get this done. And what changes when we start to see everyone around us as the image of God bearers we know them to be?

Thanks Keegan for an earth-shattering preach. Looking forward to hanging with you this weekend and hope people take time to go back to some of the things you said… keep on!

 

About the Author:

Brett Fish is a lover of life, God, tbV [the beautiful Valerie] and owns the world's most famous stuffed dolphin, No_bob (who doesn't bob). He believes that we are all responsible for making the world a significantly better place for everyone.

26 Comments

  1. Wayne June 5, 2017 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    Stop wasting money on your hairstyles. Use it for the poor.

  2. Charmaine June 5, 2017 at 6:20 pm - Reply

    Give 1/2 to the poor… so who must get my fridge and couch? No man stop being so guilty. Its not all bad so try cheer up. You can take your money and buy nice things or shopping spree to feel good dont feel guilty about it. just live live.

    • brettfish June 5, 2017 at 6:21 pm - Reply

      i think you may be missing the point of that story… although many of us actually would do well to give away half of our stuff… but start by living simply and investing some of your money in people and communities around you and that will be a great place to start.

  3. Charmaine June 5, 2017 at 6:22 pm - Reply

    But the hairsyle thing is for ladies. Men don’t perm the hair or dye blue. Come get with it. Take yourself seriously. Buy a nice suit and people will respect more

    • brettfish June 5, 2017 at 6:25 pm - Reply

      You are being ridiculous. People change their hairstyles. It’s a thing. Google it.

  4. Charmaine June 5, 2017 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    your site has hardly any comments why? you spend so much time on these things and now videos with 20 views on youtube. you must advertise with adwords its a good way to promote. also tell your friends to share your video if they car they will make it viral. no point if only 30 watch. share is the key. ask them and if they are your friend they will help. i sold my car that way and got like 4213 views so it works.

    • brettfish June 5, 2017 at 8:16 pm - Reply

      To leave space for people like you and Wayne to spend your day filling it?

  5. Charmaine June 5, 2017 at 6:43 pm - Reply

    just dye it pink

  6. Charmaine June 5, 2017 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    https://ibb.co/b34pca

    I just did this one quick for free to take it to the salon and they
    might make a plan.

    but ya i am hearing your thing here, but dress more normal man as personal appearence is very important. in a job you cant have blue hair like a smurfs so ya just be decent.

  7. Charmaine June 5, 2017 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    look its a quick job on my phone. so not professional job so have a lag

  8. Charmaine June 5, 2017 at 8:42 pm - Reply

    i dont mean to offend you as you seem to joke also about your looks. so take it in a nice way as a joke okay?

  9. Charmaine June 6, 2017 at 8:52 am - Reply

    jesus was 2000 years ago right? so how can he have died for our sins? we were not alive then so we had no sins.

    i saw the davinci code. do you think jesus had kids or was married? surely to experience everything as a normal guy would?

    • brettfish June 6, 2017 at 11:28 am - Reply

      Well God is outside of time and since we are not that’s a hard concept to try and visualise. But that doesn’t stop Him from having died for real actual sins and also potential sins. A point of the bible is that sin has deathly consequence and God in the form of Jesus took that on Himself so we might be freed from it and have the opportunity to live life to its absolute fullest…

      • Charmaine June 6, 2017 at 5:17 pm - Reply

        do you think he had children?

        • brettfish June 6, 2017 at 7:38 pm - Reply

          Not personally, no.

        • brettfish June 6, 2017 at 7:40 pm - Reply

          i do not, no. There is certainly no record of them.

          • Charmaine June 8, 2017 at 8:35 am

            I saw da vindi code and it said he did. something about lost text. interesing. but would be nice if he did.

  10. Wayne June 6, 2017 at 11:22 am - Reply

    I agree blue hair on the left, grey on the right and an orange beard are rather strange. I think people are offering advice to be a bit more professional in your approach. If someone could hold a camera steady for you and its done outdoors and on the go, it would be far more interesting.

    “A minister at large”. Would be a great title.

    Go to various townships and places and show us on the ground what it is like. Sitting at a book case where we cannot even read the titles of the books is very frustrating. You offered 1080 but that was a lie as it made zero difference.

    So lets see you live from outdoor locations.

    • brettfish June 6, 2017 at 11:27 am - Reply

      Thanks for the advice Wayne, those do sound like good ideas but at the moment my time for filming is limited and while i hope to get to a point of making videos i am just doing the best i can for now. The content is more the important thing so maybe we should stick to discussing that. Also i didn’t offer anyone – i am not computer savvy enough so the 1080 you were promised must have been a default setting or something. Maybe close your eyes and let the words soothe your soul… or something… also did you say you’re in Cape Town? Cos maybe a coffee sometime…

  11. F. Jones June 7, 2017 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    This is my first time commenting here on this site. I hope you will hear me with an open bible.

    “So it is when Zacchaeus invites Jesus into his money, not his heart, that salvation is declared.” I think this is wrong.

    Here is why: Zacchaeus profited from stolen money. After hearing the gospel of sin and repentance he repented and believed Jesus’ message (e.g. Mark 1:15). His response was to make atonement for his sins (as at that time Jesus has not died yet) by destroying his idols (money) and declaring Jesus as his Lord.

    Why does a sovereign God give more possessions / money to some than others ? What are we to do with it ? The parable of the talents come to mind. Does that mean I must hoard it. In no way! But to imply that giving away my money / possessions will lead to salvation is, frankly, blasphemous.

    In addition, when Jesus says in Matthew 7:23 ‘I never knew you…’ The word “know” means a personal intimate relationship with God. You really really really must have a personal relationship with God. Not just “inviting” (whatever that might mean) Him into your money/life/heart/wallet/couch but actually understanding the cross, what He has done for me, a sinner, and how He sustains us by His grace which I do not deserve.

    Francois

    • brettfish June 7, 2017 at 4:29 pm - Reply

      Thanks Francois, i hear what you’re saying but i think you might be missing some of what i am suggesting. i am not saying at all that giving money away earns you salvation – but i think the bible is clear that if you make a decision with your mind and do not follow it up with action then the decision is meaningless [James for example] and that fits in with the “Know” you mentioned – if you truly “know” Jesus then you life will have to demonstrate the changes otherwise the “knowing” is hypothetical and not real.

      The point i was trying to make with Zacchaeus is that when his action demonstrated his faith, Jesus declared salvation – i think it is both/and rather than either/or…

      • Charmaine June 8, 2017 at 8:38 am - Reply

        i dont understand why he had to come die here for us. is he god or is he a dude? some say both. so confusing then people say he rose again, so was he not dead? was he asleep or in a coma?

        can you explain it?

        • brettfish June 9, 2017 at 8:24 am - Reply

          Well, i think the exciting thing about Jesus is that He was God come to earth, but because He was born into earth as a human He was both God and man. So He represented both. Which seems relevant in terms of being a sacrifice for us…

          The bible tells us that one of the universal laws is that the wages/punishment for sin is death and so because all of us sin we all deserve death – Jesus dying representing man meant He could pay that price and because He represented God it meant He could pay that price for all sin… as a demonstration of how much God loves us because despite the fact that most of the time most of us still turn our backs on Him and make life all about us, He still thought it was worth dying for us.

          What you need to know is that God loves you very much. He desires you to be in relationship with Him and to live the absolute best life you can while on earth. That if you follow Him He puts His Spirit in you to guide you and strengthen you and help you live it out. He has your best interests at heart. But most of the world chooses not to believe or follow that.

  12. Wayne June 8, 2017 at 10:42 am - Reply

    From doing the hose, i found out it was leaking dripping. So now my water is double. I had to install a tap outside. I think everyone needs to do this for the homeless.

    • brettfish June 9, 2017 at 8:33 am - Reply

      That’s amazing Wayne. One of the best things in this water saving time has been learning from each other and inspiring each other to do better. We have gained some really great ideas and also strengthened community by working at this thing together…

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