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Beautifully Disturbing

Erik Cooper —  January 13, 2011 — 1 Comment

Sometimes beautiful and encouraging morphs into scary and disturbing. These two opposing forces strangely emanating from a single source.  Surprising. Confusing. Even disgusting.

A loving embrace from your favorite Aunt Sue: Beautiful
Aunt Sue’s jalapeno and cigarette breath:

Ben Affleck’s performance in Good Will Hunting: Beautiful
Ben Affleck in Gigli:

An aging Brett Favre playing football like a 16 year old boy: Beautiful
An aging Brett Favre text messaging like a 16 year old boy:

Get the picture? There’s a strange tension that emerges when two seemingly opposing expressions spring up from the same root. And in risk of sounding disrespectful, Jesus was no different. Thankfully, His take on disturbing was a substantial departure from the examples I listed above. But the Son of God definitely knew how to throw down some “did He really just say that?” moments.  For instance…

One minute He would say beautiful and encouraging things like this:

“The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live.” John 11:25-26

“You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.” Luke 12:31-32

“I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:30

Warm. Delightful. Like a warm blanket next to the fire on a cold, snowy day.

Then a few paragraphs later He seems to shift directions like Sarah Palin voting democrat:

“Sell everything you own and give it away to the poor.  You will have riches in heaven.  Then come follow me.” Luke 18:22

[In response to a man who’s father just died] “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Matthew 8:22

“If you prefer father or mother over me, you don’t deserve me. If you prefer son or daughter over me, you don’t deserve me.” Matthew 10:37

Disturbing. Scary. Our fancy 21st century discussions and Bible study commentaries have become great at explaining these things away, but Jesus never did.  He just laid them out there. Left them for us to wrestle. Here you go. Chew on this.

Because He loves us.

Yep.  Because He loves us. Real love exists in the tension between unconditional encouragement and unyielding challenge. He takes us as we are, but He doesn’t leave us there.  His aim is our ultimate good.  And Jesus knows full well that journey has to be beautifully disturbing.  That’s real love.

What passages of Scripture do you find the most encouraging? The most disturbing?

How do you wrestle with them?

Don't Miss The Point

Erik Cooper —  September 15, 2010 — Leave a comment

Healthy human connections are a vital part of developing a relationship with God.  We need people. We need the Church. We weren’t designed to live life alone. (Acts 2:42-47)

But it’s possible to be connected. To make friends.  To build your entire social network around the life of the Church. To pursue and cultivate solid, Christian community.

And not be a follower of Jesus Christ.

Knowledge of God’s Word is imperative for living a life of worship to the Creator.  The Word is truth. It’s our lifeline.  It’s living and breathing, able to transform. (Heb. 4:12)

But it’s possible to ingest a bazillion sermons.  To devour every Christian leadership book.  To fill our minds with endless volumes of spiritual information. To memorize countless Scriptures.

And not be a follower of Jesus Christ.

God’s people are concerned for the poor. They have a heart for justice.  To take on oppression.  To make a tangible difference in their communities, their cities, and the world around them.  It’s a Scriptural mandate, and the natural outflow of a heart truly transformed by God. (Is. 58:6-9, Mat. 25:31-46).

But it’s possible to volunteer.  To serve.  To raise awareness.  To take action against injustice.

And not be a follower of Jesus Christ.

Community. Knowledge. Justice. Without Jesus, these noble goals can end up leading to a lot of self-gratification and self-righteousness.

But as the outflow of an honest pursuit of Christ, they become powerful. Meaningful. The cultivation of true relationship with God, and the fruit of an undeniable connection to the Vine. (Luke 13:6-8)

So what’s your goal? Relationships?  Knowledge?  Social activism?  Great.

Just don’t miss the point.  It’s movement towards Jesus that matters?

“Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 NIV)