Having the Courage, Persistence and Grace to Imitate Jesus

Having the Courage, Persistence and Grace to Imitate Jesus

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So for those of you who don’t know, Shannan and I have an toddler now. She runs, she climbs, she says a bunch of words and most of all, she love imitating mum and dad…

Everything we do, everything we say, from the normal daily routines around the house to shopping, driving, or working on a computer, she wants to have a go… It’s adorable… Even if sometimes annoying when she wants to type on the same keyboard you are using…

The thing is, that she doesn’t always get things right… In fact most of the time she doesn’t… But unlike most adults, she isn’t deterred. She isn’t worried about how she isn’t qutie doing it right, she is simply happy to be doing a bit more of what she sees us do. (A terrifying notion for Shannan and me…)

As I was reading the passage for today, having Eve climb all over me, mash the keyboard while I type, etc… I found myself wondering..

As a church, are we committed to having the courage, persistence and grace to try imitating Jesus? (Both Individually and as a church)

The Church: Jesus’ Ministry Continued

So Let’s Look at the passage…

Acts 9:36 GNB

36 In Joppa there was a woman named Tabitha, who was a believer. (Her name in Greek is Dorcas, meaning “a deer”.) She spent all her time doing good and helping the poor.

Looks to me like Tabetha was having a red hot go at imitating Jesus already…

Acts 9:37–38 GNB

37 At that time she became ill and died. Her body was washed and laid in a room upstairs.

38 Joppa was not very far from Lydda, and when the believers in Joppa heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him with the message, “Please hurry and come to us.”

She was already dead when they sent for Peter…

Acts 9:39 GNB

39 So Peter got ready and went with them. When he arrived, he was taken to the room upstairs, where all the widows crowded round him, crying and showing him all the shirts and coats that Dorcas had made while she was alive.

Presumably these are shirts, coats, etc, that she made for the poor…

 

Acts 9:40 GNB

40 Peter put them all out of the room, and knelt down and prayed; then he turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, get up!” She opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up.

Now you would be forgiven for thinking this sounds like another miracle where Jesus raises someone from the dead…

Mark 5:40–42 GNB

40 They laughed at him, so he put them all out, took the child’s father and mother and his three disciples, and went into the room where the child was lying. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha, koum,” which means, “Little girl, I tell you to get up!” 42 She got up at once and started walking around. (She was twelve years old.) When this happened, they were completely amazed.

Peter is doing what he saw Jesus do… Using almost exactly the same words…

 

Acts 9:41–43 GNB

41 Peter reached over and helped her get up. Then he called all the believers, including the widows, and presented her alive to them. 42 The news about this spread all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. 43 Peter stayed on in Joppa for many days with a tanner of leather named Simon.

We look at passages like this and are reminded that presence of God seen in Jesus ministry, that seeks to offer healing, wholeness and forgiveness is no longer embodied by Jesus as one person in one place, but is instead something that is embodied by this community of Jesus’ followers, acting in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The thing is that this also happened through people just like us. We saw throughout Jesus’ ministry that his disciples often missed the mark and that even in Acts, it wasn’t always perfect… But in this passage we are reminded that God works through these people in powerful, even miraculous ways as they seek to do as Jesus did…

As a church, are we committed to having the courage, persistence and grace to try imitating Jesus? (Both Individually and as a church)

The Church: Embodying the Resurrection

I would suggest that just like Peter being sent for after Dorcas has already died, as the church, we are called to be those who offer hope in the face of situations that are seemingly hopeless. In our life together as a church, in our lives individually at work, in our family, with our neighbors, we will find ourselves in situations that seem hopeless.

It isn’t really a question of whether this will happen, but really when… The question is whether we have the courage to resist giving in to despair, to resist simply going with what everyone else is saying, to ask the question of what Jesus would do here… And how we can be part of doing that? Embodying that? Even if we struggle to have the faith to believe that Jesus can make a difference here, or that we are good enough, faithful enough, qualified enough, for God to work through us.

We see this notion of having a “Child Life Faith” talked about a few times through the New Testament, but I wonder if we are prepared to have a “Child Like” willingness to be imitators of Jesus. To be those who are attentive to the stories of Jesus that we see in the scripture and seek to be more like him. Who are persistent enough to try, even if we know we won’t get it right. Who are not satisfied to simply stick with what is comfortable and familiar, but to try, even fail, as we seek to continue the ministry of Jesus.

I can’t help but think that God experiences the same satisfaction, the same joy, when we as his children attempt, even in clumsy awkward ways, to imitate Jesus.

In his ministry, Jesus made a point of offering forgiveness and grace to those who his society saw as too far gone to be loved by God… We are called to try and do the same.

In his ministry, Jesus offered healing and wholeness to those who were seen as hopelessly broken, undeserving and even cursed by God… We are called to do try and the same.

In Jesus, God moved beyond the confines of the Temple, moved beyond the rituals and traditions of Judaism into the brokenness and mess of human experience. We are called to do try and the same.

These imperfect acts acts that make Jesus real in our community aren’t simply cool tricks to benefit us, but are things which draw others into the community of believers.

Seeing ourselves, those around us as God sees them…

Demonstrating radical grace and forgiveness with one another…

Offering radical generosity and charity in our community…

Embodying hope, even joy, in the midst of brokenness and despair…

Trusting that our individual stories all come together as part of God’s story of redemption…

We try to imitate Jesus in all of these things, even if imperfectly. Knowing that through these imperfect acts, through imperfect people like us, God’s Holy Spirit still moves in powerful ways.

As a church, are we committed to having the courage, persistence and grace to try imitating Jesus? (Both Individually and as a church)

Speaker: Rev. Stephen Rothery

I am married to Shannan and we love life in the Redlands.

 

I love tinkering with technology, have spent waaaay too much time in on-line gaming and am an early adopter of virtual reality. (Currently rocking a HTC Vive at home and GearVR for mobile) Before coming into ministry my background was in Electrical Engineering/IT which meant I spent a lot of time working with information systems and automation in factories and industry around Queensland. All of this means that I am basically a huge nerd 🙂

 

In terms of faith, I am passionate about journeying with people as they seek to follow Jesus and understand what this looks like in their family/work/community. None of us are perfect, but through God\’s grace we can make a difference as together we seek to bring hope in places of despair, love to those who feel lost or ashamed and comfort to those who are hurting.