Saturday, June 30, 2007

I've Been Tagged: 5 Things I Dig about Jesus

Peter Lumpkins tagged me. So here's the thing: I have to come up with five things I dig about Jesus, and tag five other people. Here goes:
  1. I dig that Jesus is the perfect balance of toughness and kindness. It's become customary these days to pit the supposedly false "feminized" view of Jesus against the supposedly more accurate masculine "tough guy" Jesus. I think the whole exercise reflects more about the insecurities of our culture than anything about Jesus himself. First of all, I don't think there is anything inherently feminine about meekness, kindness, and gentleness--the fruit of the Spirit and the beatitudes are not, I trust, gender specific. Nonetheless, the Jesus who was indeed kind, merciful, and forgiving was also tough enough to rebuke the scribes and Pharisees, as well as his own disciples. The trick was responding appropriately to the occasion, which, in context, is what the wineskins analogy was all about.
  2. I dig that Jesus is himself, regardless of circumstances or the people who were around. One of the things that I think a lot more people struggle with than admit to it is adjusting their behavior based on who is observing it. Perhaps we downplay our faith when we're with those who don't share it, or pretend we have convictions we really don't when we're with our more legalistic brothers. There is a place and time to be "all things to all people"--i.e., to use our freedom wisely for the sake of the Gospel. But we never see Jesus putting off until a next day a person who needs healing on the Sabbath, or pulling his punches with a Pharisee, even when he's his dinner guest, or stopping short of sharing spiritual truth, even when dining with sinners. He is who he is.
  3. I dig that Jesus heals and does miracles out of mercy and compassion. Without naming names, some theological traditions argue that God does what he does for no other reason than to glorify himself. But I see repeated examples of Jesus doing miracles because he had compassion on someone: e.g., Matt. 9:36, 14:14, 15:32, 20:34; Mark 1:41, 6:34, 8:2. Of course, these things are not mutually exclusive; Jesus doing miracles glorifies God almost by definition, and there are other reasons why miracles are done as well. But I dig that one of Jesus' primary motivations is simple compassion on people, because they have a need.
  4. I dig that Jesus overcame sin for me, so I don't have to. You read that right. Some of our traditions, including the holiness tradition that Pentecostalism grew out of, treat sin as something we have to overcome. Lip service is given to doing so "by the power of the Spirit," but in reality, it's treated as though it were all on us. But if we really believe that Jesus is "our righteousness, holiness, and redemption" (1 Cor. 1:30)--he's not just an example, not just a means to obtain those things, but actually is those things himself--then the means of dealing with sin is not direct, but indirect: we don't simply oppose sin on our own, but draw closer to him and let him do the work in us. I think we're afraid to tell people that, for fear that people will abuse it: "God just hasn't taken that out of my life yet." Yep, some will abuse it. But by not telling them that, we rob them of one of the most precious truths of the gospel, heap guilt on them for not being able to overcome on their own, create hypocrisy because they can't admit to not having everything all together, and withhold from them the actual key that would be able to deal with sin. The gospel, quite frankly, is not about our righteousness, but his.
  5. I dig Jesus because he first dug me.
And now it's time to tag five more people. The bad news is, I'm probably no more than a blip on the radar screen of most of the bloggers I read. So a couple of people I'm going to choose aren't bloggers. They can put their five in my comments section. And they can skip the requirement of choosing another five. That's probably against the rules of the meme, but hey, the ball's in my court now.

So anyway, my five victims (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!!!!!)
  1. Bob Mitton. Because he's my pastor, a close friend, and someone who needs an elbow in the ribs to write something. (Like I have room to talk....)
  2. Dave Porter. Best man in my wedding, longtime close friend, and most likely to come at this from a point of view no one else has thought of.
  3. Cecile Schooley. My wife, and of all the people I can think of, the most likely to use the word "dig" in this sense naturally. (We just celebrated our sixteenth anniversary--yaay for us!)
  4. Julie R. Neidlinger. Doesn't know me, although she threw me a very nice link once. I doubt very much that this is her sort of thing, but if she could be persuaded to do it, she's someone else I bet would come at it from a unique point of view.
  5. Stephen from Y Safle. A brother from Wales. I'm not sure if "dig" in this sense, besides being anachronistic, is actually just an American thing, so we may need to explain it to him. :-)
Honorable mention: I would have tagged SelahV, if she hadn't already done one on her own.


  1. Keith,

    Excellent digs. And, I trust your tagees will carry on the tradition.

    Grace, today. With that, I am...


  2. Hi Peter.

    On a second look at your post, I note with chagrin and just a bit of bemusement that I ripped off your final dig to use as my own. It was a couple of days after I had read yours, and I completely forgot that I had read it there. Truth be told, I thought it was a clever idea I'd come up with on my own.

    So anyway, I would have given you credit if I'd realized what I was doing. And I wonder what this says about most of our "original" ideas.

    Or maybe it's just me.


  3. Hi Keith,

    Sorry it took so long to get this to you. I had the basic outline and most of what I wanted to say done back in July, but then we got swamped at work, and the computer at home crashed, etc. So, at long last...


    By Dave Porter

    1. Jesus commended true faith wherever He found it, even where politically incorrect: Scripture gives accounts of many encounters between Jesus and various persons who were frowned upon by His culture; tax collectors, Samaritans, and women of ill repute come to mind, but my favorite is the encounter in Capernaum between Jesus and the Roman Centurion, recorded in Matthew 8: 5-13, and Luke 7: 1-10. This particular Centurion had earned the support of local Jewish leaders even though he was the representative of a foreign military power that was occupying their country. The Centurion’s servant has fallen ill and is paralyzed and/or close to death. Jesus agrees to come, but is met en-route by either the Centurion himself (Matthew) or his friends. (Luke) Both accounts record the Centurion’s speech: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but you need only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. I am a man under authority, and have others under my authority. I say to this one ‘go’ and he goes; to this one ‘come’ and he comes; and to another ‘do this’ and he does it.” Jesus marvels at this, saying that even in Israel He has not found great faith such as this, and the servant is healed “in that very hour.”

    Can you even imagine a Muslim leader in Fallujah commending the faith of an American Army officer, or a Palestinian leader in Gaza praising an Israeli officer? Neither can I, but Jesus is greater than politics or war, and I dig that about Him.

    2. Christ’s victory over sin, death, and Satan is already completed. In John 19:30, when Jesus said “it is finished,” it really was. At that point, He had already taken on the sins of the world, and endured separation from the Father. (Matt 27:46/Mk 15:34) There is a Michael Card song called “This Must Be The Lamb,” that is now older than the age at which handguns can be legally purchased. As is usual for Michael Card, the lyrics are well crafted, deeply thoughtful, and thoroughly biblical. The line relating to this subject says, “Satan stood trembling, knowing now he had lost, as the Lamb took His first steps on the way to the Cross.” This total victory is but one of many reasons why we can, in the words of Hebrews 12:2, “look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God.” This is why nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. (Romans 8:31) The only requirement now remaining for every knee to bow, and every tongue to confess that Jesus is Lord (Phil 2:8-11) and for the kingdoms of this world to become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ (Rev 11:15) is that we reach the appointed time. The work has already been done. Victory in Jesus, always and forever, it is finished.

    3. Forgiveness of sin through Jesus is universal. When Keith gave me this task, he promised that my answers would be unusual, and this one is perhaps more so than the rest. In John 10:16 Jesus says “I have other sheep not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice. There will be one flock, and one Shepherd.” I must, with all due respect to paleo-Christian rocker Larry Norman, disagree with the sentiment expressed in his song Unidentified Flying Object: “…if there’s life on other planets, I’m sure that Jesus knows, and He’s been there once already and has died to save their souls…” I dig Jesus because His sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin was once for all time, and it happened right here in our little corner of the universe. I do not know if there are created beings on other planets somewhere, but if there are, I know that their sins can be forgiven because of what Jesus did here.
    From 1986-1987 I worked in the shipping and receiving department of a chain of Christian bookstores in the Detroit area, and there was one time when they brought all their old, unsold stock together for a clearance sale. I found, bought, and read a very short novel called The Brother from Another Planet. I’ve long since misplaced the book, and forgotten the author’s, name, but the idea remains in my mind. The story was about an Episcopal Priest and his friend, an alien from a crashed flying saucer whose first attempts at communication with us earthlings were comprised of pointing at crosses on top of church steeples. Keith, do you remember the brightly lit cross at the top of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary? Maybe it’s used as a beacon by more than just civilian airliners. I also note that CS Lewis surmised in his science fiction trilogy (Perelandra, Out of the Silent Planet, That Hideous Strength) that created beings on other worlds (as in typical SF of that era, he chose Mars and Venus) might never have fallen into sin, and in one instance his hero, Dr. Ransom, receives strength from Jesus to ensure that that remains the case. Drake’s Equation, attributed to 1960’s astronomer Frank Drake, uses a formula where values are assigned for numbers of stars, numbers of stars with planets, numbers of planets in habitable ranges from their star, habitable planets with life, life that is intelligent, etc, and when those values are run through the equation, the answer is that there must be others out there somewhere. I should note that physicist Enrico Fermi, when he first heard of Drake’s Equation famously asked “where are they?” CS Lewis already had an answer. Other beings don’t communicate with earth because we are fallen, hence the aforementioned “Out of the Silent Planet.”

    Maybe there are good beings out there like E.T. and maybe there are evil beings out there like in Starship Troopers; I don’t know. I do know that the Creator of all the stars and planets did, right here on earth, “reconcile all things to Himself, whether on earth or in heaven,” (Col 1:20) and I dig that about Him.

    4. Jesus dug children. Matt 19:5-13, Mark 10:13-16, and Lk 18:15-17 teach us that our faith in Jesus must be like theirs. We don’t always need to figure stuff out. I’ll admit that this is sometimes very hard for me, but having children has made it easier than it used to be. The old hymn says it quite well: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

    5. Jesus is worthy of being dug. One of my favorite bible passages is Colossians 1:15-19 because it tells us who Jesus is. He is the image of the invisible God, supreme over all creation, and is in fact, the Creator of all things in heaven and on earth. All thrones, powers, dominions, and authorities were created by and for Him. He is before all things, and holds all things together. He is the Head of His body, the Church, and He is the beginning, the First-Born from the dead, so that He might have pre-eminence in all things, for it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him. That is what Jesus gave up when He emptied Himself and became a man (Phil 2:5-8) and now God has exalted Him above all things, and His name above all names (Phil 2:9-11)

    That is why I dig Jesus.
    Keep up the good work.

  4. Nice list, Dave. Worth the wait.

    Not sure whether I agree with you or Larry on extraterrestrial soteriology. (I'll bet serious hard cash that I'm the only person who has ever put that phrase together.) Theologically, I want to agree with you. But then I wonder--just how would the ETs have ever learned the story of Jesus? I hope Lewis was right: they never got corrupted.