So That I Can Rebuild It

What breaks your heart? This is the question Dean (lead pastor at North Ridge)  asked on his Facebook page this week. As you can imagine, asking a question like this on a public forum generated a huge variety of answers. I saw answers referring to apathy, marriage, priorities and they continued on. I answered the question with this; any expression of selfishness, no matter how insignificant. This is about as close to a “Sunday school answer” one can get, but it is my gut response to the question. Asking this got our minds thinking about what makes us long for change, which led into today’s message.

Craig Goeschel refers to the situation that inspires people to action as their “Popeye moment”. Whatever it is that breaks your heart, that is the motivator for the Popeye in you. The start of Nehemiah lays out a Popeye moment in Nehemiah’s life. The setting is 400 B.C. Jerusalem, the Jews are on their return trek from exile in Babylon and the temple lays in ruins. Nehemiah, a cup-bearer to the king, learned of temple’s state and wept in prayer because he understood it was the unfaithfulness of his community that created the dire situation where they found themselves. Seeing the temple in ruins was Nehemiah’s moment, it broke his heart. He cracked open a can of spiritual spinach and wept, praying through his tears. Nehemiah saw something needed to be done and his immediate response was to pray that God let that someone be him.

We should respond the same; someone ought to do something and it might as well be me. Once we are confronted by an action, an ideal, a cultural norm that breaks our heart, it is our responsibility to respond, or not. Why doesn’t someone else see the need and respond? Why should I? You might be tempted to ask this of yourself. The answer is simple; because God gave it to you.

Changing the world requires three key actions. First, allow your heart to break. Second, respond. Last, commit to rebuild. Nehemiah’s heart broke for the destroyed temple, he responded by petitioning God in prayer and then the king in his court. After obtaining the blessing of the king and in the face of public opposition, he rebuilt the temple walls.

Today’s drawing is inspired by a photograph that has spread across social media, blogs, and photograph showcases across the internet. The shot is of a bubble, the exact moment it is popped by an intruding finger. The image itself is quite captivating. The timing and clarity of the shot impressive as well. My drawing is a recreation of this image, portrait instead of landscape and the bubble is earth. Written over the hand is the question that led into the point of today; what breaks your heart?

Changing the world requires some level of destruction; dismantling a broken system, questioning a misguided philosophy, invalidating an crucial aspect of a culture’s world. The hand’s pointing finger impedes on the world to burst the bubble it’s become. Even righteous destruction is not without pain. The splash of liquid strewn as the membrane breaks represents the tears of broken hearts; or, at least one broken heart.

As the world ruptures, the last phrase of Nehemiah’s plea to the king appears; so that I can rebuild it. Inseparable from the responsibility of destroying fallacy is accountability for rebuilding with truth. Only the one who created the destruction can rebuild with sustainable integrity.

Why doesn’t someone do something? The someone is you.

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Transform the World

Homeless (Luke 9:58), separated from blood relatives (Luke 14:26), no going back (Luke 14:33)……..defining qualities of a disciple?

Things That Matter week 3: Transform the World

These qualifications for disciples aren’t exactly what you’ll find in an inspirational self-help book, much less a detail to encourage while trying to attract people. No self-respecting evangelist would add “hate you parents and live on the street” to their faith pitch! What in His own name is Jesus thinking?! Well, let’s look at what He’s actually saying.

Luke 9:57-58 transcribes an encounter one potential follower has with Jesus. The man approaches Jesus and volunteers his faithfulness. Jesus responds; “Foxes have holes, birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Jesus’s response is essentially asking, “Are you sure? This is what you’re asking for.” Aspiring religious leaders of the day would volunteer their loyalty to an established priest in hopes of developing that relationship into an apprenticeship. Jesus doesn’t want students who want to become Him, He wants disciples who will become themselves through Him.

As the passage continues, two more similar encounters occur in verses 59-62. During each of these transactions, the potential disciple hesitates, citing a family issue. One wants to go home and bury their father, the other asks to give proper goodbyes to their family members. Sounds innocent enough, right? Possibly, but their lack of commitment to the Mission throw up big red flags. What are these guys really asking? The man who wants to bury his father. Well, there’s no indication how close his father is to the grave. The eldest son is heir to the family fortune in this culture. What the man is most likely asking is, can I go home until my father dies and I receive my inheritance, then commit to following you? Takes on a different tone than just “can’t I bury my dad”, doesn’t it?

What about the other guy, he just wants to say goodbye to everyone. Family is important, they are the people who are responsible for forming our character starting at day one. Family also holds the most influence over our decisions. Jesus’s issue is not with the man wanting to tell his family goodbye, the issue is using his family to confirm or change his decision. Jesus wants commitment; now, not after you’ve had time to think it over. Do or do not. There is no try.

What is completely evident is that the people who made a total commitment to following Jesus changed their world so significantly they are still affecting ours. Commitment to God so strong you freely ignore when even your closest blood relatives reject your decision. Faith so fulfilling that no possession, even what most deem a ‘basic need’, has space to occupy. Loyalty without regret. Those characteristics make a disciple of Christ that will change their community. Assemble a team of those disciples and they will transform the world.

What does this mean for you? Once you’re brave enough to let these qualifications sink in, the will challenge how you understand your faith by posing several questions.

Do you believe this book? A negative answer puts you out of the running already.

Will you choose comfort over the cross? Bubble people need not apply

Will you choose maintenance or mission? Nominal Christian is an oxymoron

Will you have indecisive minds or committed hearts? The revolution will not be televised

Correctly address these four questions in your faith and you will transform your world, then together we’ll mould the sphere we share.

Today’s drawing is two hands, reaching through the Word and taking hold of the world. By committing to the mission taught in the book and exemplified on the cross, the hands mould the sphere into a heart, teaching love through love; transforming the world.