I set a goal at the beginning of the year to reflect weekly on the red letters in my Bible and write about my experience throughout the year. This week I’ve been reminded, once again, that it’s not enough to simply reflect on the cool things Jesus said; I must allow his Word to change me and mold my behavior.
The Red Letters of Jesus are a holy mix of invitation and challenge. In his Book, Building a Discipleship Culture, Mike Breen says, “Jesus created a highly inviting but highly challenging culture for his disciples to function and grow within.” He goes on to say, “Invitation is about being invited into a relationship where you have access to a person’s life and all the vibrancy, safety, love and encouragement that reside there . . . but by accepting the invitation, you also accept the challenge that comes with it: the challenge to live into your identity as a son or daughter of the King.”
Some of the things Jesus said make me feel safe and secure—welcomed and loved by God. They invite me into a covenantal relationship with Jesus.
Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.
I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.
Other things Jesus said are rather challenging, hard to hear and difficult to put into practice.
Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.
If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.
I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
The truly wise person will take Jesus up on his invitation. They will take time to sit at his feet and listen intently to the words he speaks. After spending time hearing and reflecting on God’s word, soaking in the Spirit and adoring the wonder of God’s presence, they will put into practice what they receive. In contrast the foolish person will spend all of their time consuming, never sharing what they receive or putting into practice what they hear.
Jesus breaks it down by saying, the one who hears his word and puts it into practice, is like a wise person who builds their house on a rock-solid foundation. The storms of life will not shake their house. On the other hand, the one who hears the word and changes nothing in their behavior, is like a foolish man who builds his house on the sand. When the storms of life come their house will crumble.
Larry Stoess is an author, public speaker, and urban church planter. He loves telling stories about how dreaming with God will empower people to make old and broken things new again. Larry and a band of friends founded the Church of the Promise in Louisville's Portland neighborhood; The Table, a pay-what-you-can community café; and Promise Housing Plus, a non-profit construction company. He has written about their experience of dreaming with God in his new book: Think Red.