When I was in seminary, I was called to pastor a very small church in farm country south of Louisville, Kentucky. It was one of the great joys of my life. I was young and zealous to serve Christ in pastoral ministry. Very early on in pastoral ministry, one man who opposed me openly within the church. He raised his hand during Sunday school one week as I was teaching the church on evangelism and said, “I don’t think we need to be out advertising our Christianity to everyone.” I thought he was joking. He wasn’t kidding. I ended up meeting with him in the community a few weeks later, and he walked into the door wearing an advertisement button on his jacket for a local state politician.
What we learn as we read the Bible is that Jesus is concerned with far more than our Bible study and evangelism. Far too many people live as if Jesus should be left at the church campus each week or confined to the annual Christmas celebration each year. Did you know that Jesus impacts the way you spend money, the way you parent, your relationship with your spouse, your weekly worship of God, and yes—your politics?
Jesus and My Personal Space
We enjoy privacy fences. It doesn’t matter where you travel, you will see fences lining properties. We like to put up big fences and create personal spaces where we can live life apart from the watching eyes of our neighbors. We enjoy freedom and privacy. We crave autonomy. However, when it comes to Jesus, we can’t leave him in the Sunday school class or coffee shop where we hold our small group meetings. Jesus impacts the whole of life—including the most private details of our family life including health care, education, business, and marriage.
In the book of Hebrews, the first twelve chapters are focused on the highest and most pristine Christology found anywhere in the pages of the Bible. Yet, after looking at the supremacy of Christ over prophets, angels, and the priesthood—we come to the final chapter of Hebrews and we notice something unique. Jesus is concerned with our sex life, our use of money, and interpersonal relationships.
Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”1Hebrews 13:1-5
Jesus and Weekly Worship
When you enter the church auditorium every week and look at the order of worship, everything you find in the order of worship matters. In fact, it communicates much about the church leadership and the philosophy of worship within your local church. Jesus is not disconnected or disinterested in our weekly worship in the home or the public gathering of the local church.
First of all, we note that it’s through Jesus that we have access to come before the Lord of glory in worship. Without his work on our behalf, we would not be permitted such access. Like the Israelites of old, we would look to the high priest to enter the presence of God on our behalf and offer up a sacrifice that is pleasing to God. However, Jesus’ sacrifice is more precious than the blood of bulls and goats. His sacrifice is eternally sufficient. As worshippers we are to offer up “sacrifices of praise” before God and such sacrifices are made possible by the work of Jesus on our behalf. The writer to the Hebrews writes:
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.2Heb 13:15
Such praise to God comes in the form of song and prayer. At a very foundational level, our sacrifices of praise are made possible because of Jesus’ work. Jesus is the “guarantor of a better covenant” (Heb 7:22) and serves as the Mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5). It’s not through dead saints that we have access to God as the Roman Catholic doctrine teaches. Instead, it’s through Jesus Christ.
It’s also apparent that our relationship to Christ should impact how we view church leadership in the local church. According to Hebrews 13:17, we are to “obey” our “leaders” who give watch for our soul. Christ is the Great Shepherd and he commissions leaders as “shepherds” to care for the flock of God within the local church. That’s the work of a pastor. Jesus impacts how we approach pastoral care. For instance, just a few verses later in the benediction, the writer to the Hebrews writes:
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.3Hebrews 13:20–21
Notice the word “equip” in Hebrews 13:21. It’s the Greek term “καταρτίζω” which means to put in order or restore. This term was used to describe a trainer who adjusts body parts. It was also used in the sphere of medicine in reference to a doctor setting a broken bone or putting a dislocated limb back in place. The word is also used to describe the work of repairing and refitting of a damaged sea vessel. The point is obvious. Christians are in an ongoing state of sanctification and God is equipping us for good works—which is the will of God.
In a very practical manner, Jesus (the Great Shepherd) calls and commissions pastors to “equip the saints for the work of ministry” in the life of the local church (Eph 4:12). This work of equipping is the work of making disciples and leading God’s sheep onward in sanctification. Weekly worship has a sanctifying impact upon our spiritual life. Every year that passes in our Christian life as we make progress in the faith through faithful pastoral care and preaching of Scripture, our progress is directly connected to Jesus Christ (Heb 13:21).
You cannot pack Jesus up and store him away in an attic space until Christmas season arrives. Our progress in marriage, parenting, managing a family budget that honors God, work-life-balance, time management, and a hundred other daily activities are all very much connected to Jesus (Heb 4:13).
May Christ be praised with our lips and our life for the glory of God—now and forever.