In his sermon on Sunday, Pastor Ray made a very provocative point. He noted that
“Jesus calls us not just to be different from the world, but often to do the exact
OPPOSITE from what the world endorses and does.” This is a key point as it
relates to families. The families in the early church were a part of the church together.
We do see this today in many cases, but back then, this new 30 something A.D. church
culture was also a ‘family culture’. As Ray noted, this early church did some really crazy
things, like selling their ‘stuff’ and giving money to each other as needed, meeting each day
together and eating together, sharing the ’stuff’ with each other, etc. (Acts 2 gives a good
picture of this….) The early church simply was doing things in a very ‘contrarian’ way!
I remember as a kid when my grandparents would say something like, “Quit being so
contrary…” or “Why are you being so contrary.” I didn’t realize until much after what this
meant. By being “contrary”, I was – at least in their eyes – being a bit disagreeable, or even
disobedient. The main thing is that I was moving against the expectations that my
grandparents (and I’m sure once in a while my parents) had for me.
A funny thing about Jesus’ ministry is that He, too, was very “contrary”, as my
grandparents would say. (I wish I had understood this earlier in life so I could have
explained to my grandparents about the classy company I kept!) This explains a lot why
the organization He founded – the church, was so contrarian itself. Jesus really went
against the grain of the culture in just about every way possible –
almost like that was His intended M.O. He really didn’t seem to care much about
peoples’ expectations – particularly the expectations of the religious “know it alls” of the
day. Rather, He was really all about two major things, as I see it….
1) transforming lives, and
2) delegating this responsibility (transforming lives) to the church (which technically didn’t
even exist until after His Resurrection and Ascension).
To me, one of the greatest “contrarian chapters” in the Gospels is Luke 5. Here we see five
accounts of Jesus at His contrarian best! As a matter of fact, this passage makes for a pretty
good 5-part series on how Jesus broke the mold. So in each of these five accounts – what is
it that the great historian Luke wants us to understand? And what does it mean to the
church that Jesus is delegating to?
In verses 1-11, we see Jesus calling His first disciples. He reaches out to the most
unlikely people – a group of uneducated – though successful – fishermen, with a
challenge that surely made many onlookers just shake their heads: “Don’t be afraid! From
now on you’ll be fishing for people!” What is that all about? He saw in them things no one
else saw. Even though they could have made excuses, Peter and the guys would follow, and
they would discover what He meant!
Next, Luke tells of Jesus hanging out with a category 5 leper! Nobody in their right mind
would go near the place where lepers were left to live out their earthly days in misery. So
Jesus surely went alone. But He reaches out and touches the leper, and heals him instantly.
Then Jesus sends the ex-leper to the priest for the verification of the healing. Since leprosy
healings were rare – OK, non-existent – this would significantly blow the priest’s mind!
Talk about contrary…..!
These first two accounts of Jesus’ decision-making (questionable I’m sure in the eyes of
the religious ‘know it alls’) were pretty wild. A man claiming to be God and backing it up
pretty well thus far hiring a bunch of blue collar guys to lead, teach and serve. And then
hanging out with a full blown leper.
Jesus showed in these two accounts how He would demonstrate what it meant to do the
exact OPPOSITE of what the world would expect. Next week we’ll look at three more
instances in which Jesus drives this point home.