Grace changes us. That’s just the reality of it. One moment our lives revolve around only us, and the next they revolve around the giver of Grace. This causes a domino effect, and it pushes our grace right out from our hearts and into the lives of those who live around us.
If Jesus sits at your kitchen table, and He changes your heart while you wash your dishes or through other acts of daily faithfulness as mentioned in previous posts, and you readily have welcomed Him into the deepest parts and the everyday parts of your life, He will probably say to you, “feed my sheep”. If He’s asked if you love Him countless times and your answer has repeatedly been yes, then He will ask you to go out and love His flock. Because while Jesus loves us each personally and deeply, His grace reaches beyond the “me” and extends to the “us”. He is all about community. He is all about sitting in that upper room at a table full of believers. He is all about sitting at that table surrounded by a room full of sinners.
John 21:15-17 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep”.
If you are an introvert like me, you may love Jesus deeply but struggle with reaching out to actively love other people outside of your inner circle. While I can type my heart out here on this blog, it’s hard for me to do the face to face conversations. Do I love Jesus? Yes. Do I want Him to sit at my kitchen table and do life with me every single day? Yes. Do I eagerly jump into the mission field and invite others to sit at my kitchen table with Jesus? No. Because I am not always a Mary and I live in a Martha world. I build up the excuses about my house not being clean enough for company, or my to do list being too long. But the truth is that it scares me. There is a level of anxiety and of pride when it comes to how I live my life inside of a community. On my own, I am free to have my thoughts and free to live unabashedly in my own way. But when others are involved I am often more concerned about judgment than I am about close personal relationships with Jesus and how He desires me to have close personal relationships with the people who live around me.
I need more grace. But like I said before, grace changes us. And to ask for grace means to be asked to be changed by it.
People are hard. And there is no one who knows this better than Jesus. He came to save the world…and was killed by the very people He reached out to save. He openly preached the way to Heaven and love for our neighbor…but He was denied on the same night that He was betrayed. He was ridiculed by a man who hung next to Him on a tree…even while He was dying for the sins of the whole world. And for a short time, in the three days before He rose from the dead, His closest community fell silent and afraid of the world and what it would do to them. Preach Jesus? That’s hard. Because He was a man and yet God, preached love and yet was hated, stepped down from a heavenly throne to save and yet hung as a criminal on a cross.
The truth is that Jesus loved me, and He loved you, and maybe you and me are the most difficult of sinners. But He came into our lives anyway. And because of that, we can overcome our fears. We can let go of our shame. We can go confidently into a world of people even if they reject us. Because we have a Savior whose Grace has covered us and made us entirely new and labeled us entirely valuable to the King of Kings.
If we love Jesus, then life will be hard. But our rest will be great. If we love Jesus, then we will deal with the hard people and love them, because Jesus loved us when we were the hard people. If we love Jesus, than our introverted selves will seek to love the world in every way we can, because Jesus loved it first. To love Jesus, is to follow Him. And if we are following Him then we will feel the push to become more like Him. Which may mean holding our hands out to reach people outside of our comfort zone.
Grace is inviting more people to the table. It’s inviting more sinners and imperfect people into the upper room. For the message of the Gospel to change the hearts of this whole world, relationship and community are entirely necessary. To preach a God who loved the whole world requires us to love it too…even when it’s hard and we would rather keep to ourselves.
Consider it this week. If Jesus is sitting at your kitchen table, who is He calling you to invite in to sit with you? Who is He is calling you to form the hard and personal relationships with? How is He calling you to help other people to hear His voice and experience His Grace?
This is the hard part of Grace, the part where you give it away. The part where you allow the blanket of Grace which covers you, to cover other people. It is in this pursuit, that we see God’s Grace magnified, not only for us, but for the whole world.
Invite Jesus to come and sit with you at your kitchen table, and you will find that others may want to come and sit with Him too. This is the glory of Jesus, who gave himself up for you, that His relationship with this world would change it and that His relationship with you would change you too.
“Do you love me? Then feed my sheep.”