He is Making All Things New

He is Making All Things New

A deeper journey

Note to readers

As we mentioned last week, you are hearing from a few different voices in A Deeper Journey. This week we hear from Good Way team member Justin McRoberts: former staff person; current author; pastor; musician; husband, father and avid comic-book reader. We trust you will hear Jesus in a fresh way through Justin.

Take a moment to become still.

 

Let the silence deepen within you and around you.

 

From the silence, enter into this story from John 1:35-42.
The next day John was standing again with two of his disciples.

When he saw Jesus walking along he said, ‘Look! The Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard what he said, and they followed Jesus.

 

When Jesus turned and saw them following, he asked, ‘What are you looking for?’

 

They said, ‘Rabbi (which is translated Teacher), where are you staying?’

 

He replied, ‘Come and see.’ So they went and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon.

 

One of the two disciples who heard what John said and followed Jesus was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated ‘Christ,’ Greek for ‘anointed one’). He led him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas,’ (which, when translated, is Peter).” [Or, in Aramaic and Greek, rock.]

Jesus has a wonderful and confounding knack for rearranging the way we see the world in which we already live.

I used to find it almost cute that Jesus gave Simon the nickname “Peter.”

​ I’ve given people nicknames for as long as I can remember. And while there was definitely something playful about the way He called Simon “Peter,” He was also up to something a bit deeper. Jesus has a wonderful and confounding knack for rearranging the way we see the world in which we already live. And He often does so by way of language. Yes, Jesus brings newness and good gifts we didn’t see coming, but just as often, He takes familiar things and reorients our posture toward them.

 

We see them differently and live differently in light of a​ renewed vision.
"You have heard it said" Jesus would teach, "But I tell you ..."

In a sense, He seems to say "here is a thing you know and are familiar with, but there is so much more here than you see. Let me show you."

 

For instance:

 

"You have heard it said 'Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.' But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King" (Matthew 5:33-35).

 

Or, "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also" (Matthew 5: 38-39).

 

Over and over, Jesus takes the familiar and turns it inside out, then hands it back to us and says "Take a look at it now." What He asks of us in that process is to simply pay attention.

 

Not to try harder.
Or to think more deeply.
Or get it together.
Just pay attention.

 

Most surprising is when He does that with you and me. In fact, that’s His heart’s desire, to love us toward and into newness.

Pay attention and see what Jesus is already up to.

 

Most surprising is when He does that with you and me. In fact, that’s His heart’s desire, to love us toward and into newness. He also wants to draws us out of ourselves or our patterns so that we can take a look at the work He’s already done and the change that has already taken place. He asks us and helps us to see ourselves differently.

 

A man named Saul lived this disorienting and reorienting experience dramatically in Acts 9:1-31.

(Take a moment to read it and refresh your memory if you would like.)

 

Saul saw faithfulness to God in a very specific way for a long time?" a way that included the sometimes violent persecution of people who were following Jesus. Acting according to the way he saw things, Saul believed he was protecting the sanctity of God’s truth and the culture built around it.

 

And then …

Saul met Jesus and was literally knocked off his horse: He could no longer travel in the direction he was headed. Saul was blind for three days: He could not see the world around him the way he’d grown accustomed.

 

Saul was incapacitated and desperately needed the help of people other than himself: He could not rely on his own strength and patterns.

But after time alone and time in loving connection with others, Saul learned to see again and found himself being embraced and woven into a community of people. A community he would probably never have identified as his own had Jesus not fundamentally reoriented his perspective.

(One interesting note about Saul whom we now call Paul. Unlike Peter, Jesus did not change Saul’s name. Saul was always known as Saul and Paul [Acts 13:9]. “Saul” was Paul’s Hebrew name, and notably the name Jesus connected with when He knocked him off his horse. “Paul” was Saul’s Greek name, and the logical name assumed when Paul began his missionary journey among primarily Greek speakers. Now back to our regularly-scheduled program …)

So much has changed since Lent last year.

Maybe, like a lot of other people, you feel like you were knocked off your horse and that you don’t see the way you used to. How might Jesus be changing the way you see? How might Jesus be reorienting your perspective? Maybe it’s time to give some important words or ideas a new look.

Poet Gregory Orr writes it this way in “Let’s Remake the World​ with Words:”

Let’s remake the world with words.

Not frivolously, nor

To hide from what we fear,

But with purpose

 

Lets,

As Wordsworth said, remove

“The dust of custom” so things

Shine again, each object arrayed

In its robe of original light

 

And then we’ll see the world

As if for the first time,

As once we gazed upon the beloved

Who was gazing at us

Faith, as we have said throughout A Deeper Journey, often involves the practice of remembering.

There are times, however, when God invites us to forget. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past,” He invites us in Isaiah 43:18-19. “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

 

Sometimes we need to remember what God is inviting us to forget.

He is always doing something new, making a way where there was none and He asks a good question, “Do you not perceive it?” Are we paying attention?

 

As we begin to move as a mission (and the world) out of this season of the pandemic, what old thing is God inviting us to forget and leave behind? What new thing is He doing that He is inviting us to notice or perceive? Or what is He inviting us to see in a new way that we may have never seen before?

 

Over and over, Jesus takes the familiar and turns it inside out, then hands it back to us and says “Take a look at it now.” He does this most dramatically with His crucified body on Easter morning. As we prepare to celebrate the most disorienting and reorienting event in human history, let’s practice letting go of what we thought we knew and ask the Spirit to help us begin to see things differently, to reorient and reimagine.

 

The prayer might begin something like “Open my eyes, Lord. I want to see You, myself and others the way You do.”

Remembering God’s Goodness Together: Daily Engagement

Day Two.Read Acts 9:1-9 and take a new look at your job.

Paul was often identified with his job, even by title. In fact, more than 2,000 years later, we regularly call him "The Apostle Paul." It's probably safe to assume he identified pretty closely with his job as well. A lot of us do, especially when the work we do is relational or personal. My Young Life leader's email address featured the words "Young Life."

 

Do you closely associate your identity with your work?

 

What "are" you?

 

Leader?

Helper?

Minister?

Pastor?

 

How do you hear those words or titles now that might be different than the way you heard them last year? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see yourself as God sees you as you work. What does it mean to you, as you look at your own life and work, to hear God say, "I am doing something new?"

 

Invite the Spirit to walk you through these questions, search your heart and reveal the good work of God in your life.

Day Three.Read Acts 9:26-30 and take a new look at your friends.

Saul’s entire social landscape changed after he met Jesus. The people he’d belonged with before weren’t going to understand who he was being made into now. Not only that, the power dynamics in his relationships had to change and he was no longer in charge all the time; he had to submit to the kindness and leadership of others in order to grow. In other words, what it meant for Saul to have friends and be part of a community changed entirely. Who are your close friends? Who do you consider close to you now? How is that different now than in years past and what caused those changes? As you consider your community and friends today, what are your desires or longings?

 

Invite the Spirit to walk you through these questions, search your heart and reveal the good work of God in your life.



Day Four.Read Acts 9:31 and take a new look at dreams and aspirations.

Paul had a future ahead of him. Talented, passionate and well trained, his career trajectory was set and clear, and it meant being part of a significant cultural formation process. Along with his compatriots, he envisioned a world strictly shaped by the Law of God. His pursuit of Jesus' early followers was rooted in that vision of a possible and better future.

 

One way of talking about that is to say that he had (and shared in) dreams and aspirations. Dreams, hopes and aspirations are often gifts from God, given so that we might experience His heart more deeply and discover who He has made us to be. But sometimes our dreams and aspirations may actually keep us from experiencing His heart and discovering our purpose in Him. We can rest and trust that God will faithfully dismantle our dreams if they are keeping us from the deeper life He longs for us to live. Jesus faithfully did this for Paul.

 

What plans have you had to let go? What plans have you had to set aside? Did anything take the place of those plans and dreams? What are you dreaming about now? How are these dreams and plans different than dreams you've had in the past?

 

Invite the Spirit to walk you through these questions, search your heart and reveal the good work of God in your life.

Day Five.Read Matthew 5:44 and take a new look at your enemies.

Paul's work was, at least in part, focused on dealing with (and eliminating) enemies. There were ideas and people in the world around him he was actually against. That kind of focus can seem inevitable. But Jesus turns that focus inside out, too. Not only by changing our hearts, but by changing the language we use about enemies. "Love your enemies," Jesus teaches us (Matthew 5:44). And loving my enemies means they aren't very "enemy-like" anymore. What about you?

 

Are there ideas or people your heart has recognized as an enemy? How might Jesus be softening you toward those people? How might Jesus be reorienting your understanding of the differences you have with others?

 

Invite the Spirit to walk you through these questions, search your heart and reveal the good work of God in your life.

Day Six.Read John 1:35-42 again and take a new look at your own name.

From what we see of Peter in the Gospels, he seems like anything but a rock. He seems unstable, speaking before thinking, jumping into the water with his clothes on, slashing off a soldier’s ear. Yet Jesus saw impetuous Peter fully formed. What do you think God sees when He looks at you? Take a moment to ponder this. See if you notice any feelings of self-rejection or shame as you consider the Father looking at you. Talk with Him about what you are experiencing.

 

In Revelation 2:17, God tells us He is going to give us a white stone with a new name on it, known only to the one who receives it. A most sacred and secret name, shared only between us and God. Ask the Spirit to begin to create an openness within you to be lovingly, secretly and rightly named by the God who loves you.

 

Invite the Spirit to walk you through these questions, search your heart and reveal the good work of God in your life.

Day Seven.Read Acts 9:3-9 and take a new look at God.

Paul didn’t recognize Jesus as God. While lying on the ground, blind and incapacitated, he asked “Who are you?” And from that time, including during the time he spent among the disciples in Damascus, he relearned what it looked like for God to be God, incarnate; which is to say that Paul had to be reacquainted with God the way God was actually revealing Himself in the person of Jesus.

 

How has your vision of God changed this year? What are some ways you experience Him now that you didn’t before? What has helped create these changes?

 

Invite the Spirit to walk you through these questions, search your heart and reveal the good work of God in your life.

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