Jesus’ ministry is more than salvation from sin. It’s more than giving us spiritual gifts, integrity of character or other blessings. It is to bring us to maturity. The funny thing is, he uses other people to help us get there (see Ephesians 4:11-16). We'll talk more about that in a minute. First, let's talk about Jesus' ministry for a moment.
During his earthly ministry, Jesus often healed everyone present before teaching. He didn’t teach about healing before doing the work of healing! He healed masses, and those who saw him restore so many bodies stuck around to hear what he had to say. The spiritual gift and the blessing of healing was the beginning. It caused them to begin to see him for who he is.
The expression of God's power in healing is invaluable. Healing brings people closer to a good, heavenly Father. It prepares them to receive more. Before giving the Beattitudes, Jesus healed all and then went up the mountain -- Many were compelled to follow him and to listen to him. Because of the healing which took place, they stuck around to hear the Beattitudes, which is a simple teaching on how the Creator created the world to really work.
The power and compassion of God led people to listen, and learn how to live and what to believe.
Today, the ministry of the Holy Spirit brings us to Jesus, empowers us to know him and become like him. This means we can grow up! When we spiritually grow up, yes, other Christians might note our maturity, but world will see us like Jesus. This is important! We become as Jesus is to such a degree those who don’t know him recognize him in our lives. They can recognize him through our works and through the way we live our lives.
Yes, following Jesus means we can learn to do the type of works Jesus did, while doing them according to his will. This means we do God's works the way he is doing them right now. It’s a terrible day when one sees a paraplegic healed... if the person who ministered to them, giving God’s merciful healing gift, then heaps onto the person a bunch of duties and legalistic requirements. Instead of legalism, the one ministering healing to them should lead them to Jesus, the one who healed them and shepherds their soul. Adding legalistic requirements and the traditions of people will both pervert grace and leave the person in a worse place than where they started.
In addition, Matthew 7 tells us we can heal, deliver, set free -- but it means nothing if we do not also obey. Those are two different things to Jesus. Paul reinforces this when says we can have prophetic powers and perform great acts, but they are nothing without love - Love is the reason we obey, and the reason we can exercise supernatural expressions of power in our lives (1 Corinthians 13:1-14:1).
In the mature Christian, acts of love, might and righteousness coexist. They happen together. Love, might and righteousness are united. When we are mature, we don’t think that it’s okay to compromise love in order to act righteous, or that we can pursue social justice in an unrighteous way.
The Father of Lights is the true light from whom every other light comes. He literally radiates from his throne in Heaven, and every good thing comes from him (James 1:17). Jesus was the perfect representative of the Father (Hebrews 1:3) and his nature in a dark world, and as such was the actual Light of the World (John 8:12). When his life comes into someone, they become lights to the world as well (Matthew 5:14). This is not figurative speech. It is a reality which others will notice in our lives.
When God’s Light shines through someone, we see them as righteous, happy, powerful, loving, gentle, or any other number of things. Yet these are all rays of the same light, like light shining through a prism and different colors coming out. Just as oranges and reds of a sunset are colors emanating from the same sun, so the works, the gifts, the fruit of the Spirit of the Father are all outshinings of his grace which touch our lives. We tend to prioritize what parts of God we want most, or which ones our church or community likes most. But we need all of them to become like Jesus. We need all of them to be mature (Ephesians 4:15-16).
We need each other, so we can each share our own relationships with Jesus with each other, so we can impart spiritual gifts to each other and so grow in love together. This is one of the reasons for Glory Nights -- we host speakers from other places in the Body of Christ to share with us their wisdom, teaching and gifts. It’s also why we have small groups.. Everyone has something to bring.
Jesus offers way more than we realize, and wants us to be mature in order to represent him and the Father to our world. To do this, we need more than to worship together on Sundays and hear a good message. Unity in community is one of the absolute best ways to grow in Jesus. Keep a lookout for our small group launch in the beginning of October, where members of Spirit of Christ will be launching groups. Each will be an opportunity for us to grow in Christ, and build each other up in love. Also, keep a lookout for upcoming Glory Nights and events (such as Dr. Melodye Hilton on September 8) to grow close to Jesus by hearing from someone who walks with him in the Spirit and truth, but with a different expression than you or I have.
I am EXCITED for the days ahead, and I am glad we’re doing it together!
All the best and God bless,
Spirit of Christ Church, Chambersburg