For the past few months, my children and I have been watching a pair of sparrows scout our birdhouse, clean it out, and begin the slow process of building a nest.
As I have been watching them, I was reminded that Jesus spoke about sparrows. In my recollection, the verses about sparrows were about worrying and how God cares for these little tiny bird so we should not worry. I thought about it long enough that I thought I would write a good blog about it.
Except….when I read the verses about sparrows they were not at all what I thought they were about. Jesus does not talk about sparrows within the context of worry. He actually talks about sparrows in relation to the fear of God.
“So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:26-31
These verses say that God’s eye is on us so intensely that he knows every single thing we have done, every hair on our head. Even the little insignificant sparrows are within his gaze. And, because of this, we should fear him because he can destroy our soul and body. BUT we are more precious than sparrows.
If that does not make you shiver, just a little, I’m not sure what would. .
These verses were a lot more terrifying than I was expecting. It was a lot more like the “Eye of Sauron” than soft and heartwarming.
You see, what Jesus actually said was not what I wanted to say.
What Jesus was saying was….inconvenient.
Sometimes, I just wish Jesus would say the things I want him to say. I wish his words fit the norm or were more in synch with my values or my desires. I wish that Jesus’ words were easier to swallow, that his ideas were more flexible or that he “fit in” to 2019 a little bit better.
Jesus can be very inconvenient.
If I spend enough time with Jesus, I find myself saying,
“You want me to do what with my money? This seems a over the top”
“If I do that, do you know what that would mean for my life?”
“Why does the road have to be so narrow?”
“Why are you being so hard on Nicodemus/the rich young ruler/Simon Peter?”
“I’m just not sure I can love someone with that kind of love.”
Jesus is really concerned about sin and a little overly gracious with people. But how can he care SO much about both at the same time and people are still drawn to him?
And, with all the angst I can feel when I read the gospels, I always come back to the same realization that I am actually thankful that Jesus is not what I want him to be because he is what I NEED him to be. He is God.
The Jesus that I want wouldn’t chose to leave heaven to be incarnated. A Jesus that is normal or soft does not do the hard things that I NEED him to.
Socially acceptable Jesus doesn’t eat supper with Zaccheus or team up with fisherman. Culturally relevant Jesus doesn't talk call people out on their idols, their greed, the sins of their hearts and minds.
The Jesus that is convenient doesn’t face the cross and die and that Jesus doesn’t continue on in love when everyone else falls away.
The verse on sparrows is about love that is frightening and wild. God wants us, with no uncertainty, to understand that he cares about our conduct, our hearts, and our minds. BUT that we are also incredibly important and precious to him. He watches us because we are valued and loved by him. He cares about how we live our lives because our choices draw us further away or towards a fulfilling relationship with him.
And there’s the rub.
We want Jesus to be easier, less odd and confusing, but the supernatural love, the power, the strength, the gentleness, all these come because Jesus is God. He is King.
The Jesus I want loses on both accounts. He is neither fearless nor full of perfect love.
I need Jesus to be serious about sin so that he can deal with mine.
Wild and untameable love is the kind of love that sees past the mar of sin and calls to the image of God in each of us. Wild and untameable love also demands nothing more than complete submission of our lives to his reign and authority.
Wild and untameable love is the kind of love that runs right into the fire, chases down the one missing sheep, and interceedes on our behalf at the throne of God.
We have to continue to take Jesus for everything he said, not just the easy things, not just the verses we could quote without offending anyone. And we need to sit at his feet and learn how to do it with the greatest love and grace the world has ever known. We need to learn how to speak and display the love of Jesus for the redemption of the person, rather than their condemnation.
His love is as fierce and great as his holiness. His covenant is as firm as what he did to establish it. Dilute him and neither his love nor his commitment to us is worth very much.
In the wise words of old Mr.Beaver, “ ‘Safe?’ said Mr Beaver…"‘Who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Sometimes, I want Jesus to be safer but I NEED him to be good more than I need him to be safe. I need him to be King. And I think you do too.
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