Bible Reading: John 20:19-23
Over the past two days we have considered the way in which the Father sent Jesus, recognising that Jesus sends out His disciples in the same way. Jesus was sent to die for those He came to save and to live a life of obedience, and that is how He sends us out.
Thirdly, the Father sent Jesus to identify with those He came to save. He became one of us. There was no elitism or sense of superiority in Jesus. Paul writes, “He was made in the likeness of men,” [Philippians 2:7] and “…being found in fashion as a man.” [Philippians 2:8]. Jesus is a high priest touched with the feelings of our infirmities, and tempted in all points like us [Hebrews 4:15]. He was known as a friend of sinners, and they loved Him for it. The common [ordinary] people heard Him gladly.
John Stott has said, “Some people reject the gospel, not because they perceived it to be false, but because they perceive it to be foreign.”
Identification is more than wearing the right clothes, eating the right food, knowing a people’s history or speaking their language. These things are important but they do not automatically open the door to a person’s heart.
Real identification is a matter of the heart! When I went to Indonesia as an overseas missionary I was a proud Englishman. I thought that West was blest and white was right, but I was wrong, and God had to deal with me very deeply in and change my heart attitudes.
One of the greatest difficulties for a person going overseas as a missionary, is to enter into the world-view, belief systems, values and spiritual concepts of another people. It is really wonderful that we are living in a day when more and more national Christians are reaching out to their own people. It is much more powerful than a foreigner doing it. There is an increasing emphasis in the West on sending out short-term teams or individuals to minister overseas. This is important and valuable, but will never replace the long-term worker, who learns the language of the people, imbibes their culture, and understands what for them is the meaning of spirituality.
After years of living in Indonesia, preaching in Indonesian, and living like an Indonesian, I was once surprisingly compared to a well known [and successful] Indonesian evangelist who loved to travel to the West, was funded from the West and wore expensive western suits. The person said, “He has brown skin and white heart, but you have white skin and an Indonesian heart.” I have never been paid a greater compliment in my service for Jesus!
The great need is to model what the Christian life is really like – in a day when church has almost become an irrelevance for the majority of people. It requires identification with people and Christ-likeness in us, and for the Christian it is part of that work of God in the heart and dying to the self-life.
One Question and a Prayer:
When people see me do they come in contact with Jesus Christ? If not, what is the hindrance? Lord, let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me today!