Several years ago, I was teaching jr. high Sunday School. I decided at Christmas time to engage them in understanding how God meets needs through our sharing with each other. Even if our brothers and sisters in Creation live across the globe. As we scanned through the World Vision catalog, I mentioned several possible gift ideas: a chicken, clothing, Bibles. As I tossed out the options, one of the boys who usually remained quiet spoke up, “We can give them Bibles but if they are starving, what good will that do?”
Like the boy who saw the Emperor with no clothes, he revealed the truth. No filter. No mind acrobatics to convince otherwise. He possessed Jesus’ scandalous eyes.
Jesus’ treatment of others brought rebuke. His interactions smacked of heresy and cultural taboos. Why would someone who claims to be born of Heaven interact with those viewed as tainted on earth?
Truthfully, he was modeling and reframing what God had already communicated numerous times. God’s people are set apart from other nations by how they see and treat each other. Period.
That’s scandalous. Thankfully the early church bears witness to the fact that others thought Jesus was on to something.
“For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?” James 2:16-17
Jesus noticed what was lacking: physically, spiritually, emotionally. All of it. When He encountered others, everything was laid bare. So he offered bread and fish, shared meals, put mud on eyes, touched those with skin diseases, and empowered those relegated to the lowest rung of the cultural ladder. And exhorted those who long to follow him to do likewise.
Jesus was scandalous. If we really want to be like Jesus, we should be too.
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