I have to be honest, I had my suspicions. To be fair though, I wasn't 100% sure. It's been a while since I've had babies, so an exact recollection of what all types of baby food taste like was sketchy in my mind. It didn't take long last night to bring the full force of the nastiness of baby food back to my mind. If I remember correctly, it was when several of my students were gagging and throwing up in the garbage can that I fully remembered.
Our monthly game night has a bit of a reputation. Students have come to expect something gross and as any good youth pastor will understand, "I just don't want to let them down." The game was simple, each team had to finish 5 jars of baby food. And just so you know that I'm not a complete monster, I was sure to buy all of the fruity, sweet tasting varieties of baby food. (Insert heavy doses of sarcasm). Each team member simply had to take a spoonful from each of the 5 jars and then pass them along to the next team member until the jar was empty. Sounds simple right?
What was interesting as I watched this unfold were the wide variety of responses. Some students easily spooned out their portion without a grimace while others began to gag at the first whiff of the smell. Through my tears of laughter I was reminded that each of us is equipped by God with a different set of abilities, gifts, personalities and interests. 1 Corinthians 12 maps out a great analogy between us as believers and the various parts of the human body.
Each of us has a role to play as a part of the kingdom. What's your role? Do you even know what your role is? Have you ever asked God to reveal to you the part you are called to play? How long will you be satisfied with sitting on the bench? Your faith will grow exponentially when you begin to give back and serve those around you.
It's not about being like everyone else. It's about living in and functioning in the manner that God created you to. What can you do that people are amazed at? What's your baby food?
Let’s talk about the spiritual climate of our lives. If you look up the definition of that word, “climate” you see this, “the weather conditions prevailing in an area in general or over a long period.” So as we apply that definition of climate to our spiritual climate, really what we’re talking about is the prevailing spiritual vibe or the prevailing spiritual undertones of our lives, over a long period of time.
So if you can track with me here for a second, the spiritual climate of your life isn’t determined by how you’re doing right now, it’s about stepping back and getting a larger or a broader picture of where you’ve been and the course that you’re currently charting. You’re familiar with this idea of climate, you may have heard it talked about in your workplace as the corporate climate. Is the business growing? Is it down sizing? Is it hostile to its’ employees? All these things affect and define the corporate climate. So as we think about our personal spiritual climate, we begin to understand that there are factors that feed into and in essence create that climate.
Are you growing spiritually?
Are you spending an increasing amount of time dwelling on the things of God?
Climate doesn’t just happen, climate is created either intentionally or unintentionally, but either way, it’s created!
Matthew 9:10-12 says…"Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.”
Notice Jesus’ climate. Jesus is relaxed, He’s welcoming, He’s eating. How many people do you know that will agree to share a meal with you but do it in an angry way. No one does that because it’s around a meal that people share and talk and dream together. So here’s Jesus sharing and talking and dreaming with the folks around this table. But realize who’s sitting around this table. The Scripture says it was tax collectors and disreputable sinners. Why in the world is Jesus hanging out with tax collectors and sinners? The answer to that question is in the previous verse.
Matthew 9:9 says…"As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.”
So here’s Jesus calling Matthew to be one of His disciples and at least the impression we get from Scripture is that there is an immediate gathering at the home of Matthew where Jesus has the opportunity to not just eat with, but to meet all of Matthew’s friends, the good, the bad and the ugly.
I think we can miss this if we’re not careful. Here’s the Son of God, a member of the Trinity, the only perfect person to ever walk the earth, the perfect sacrifice that in a few short years was getting ready to lay down His life as a substitution for all of mankind. Here was the holiness of God in the flesh, hanging out with people that were about as far from caring about God as possible.
It almost seems impossible. It almost seems like the perfect holiness of Jesus could not co-exist with people that were such abhorrent sinners. Why in the world was the perfect Son of God spending His time in this way? And yet there He was, reclined at the table enjoying food and laughing and chatting it up.
Here’s the lesson, don’t miss this: Jesus was intentional about creating a personal climate that was attractive to those that did not understand who He was and what He was about. All throughout Scripture we see Jesus talking with, eating with and spending time with people that didn’t get Him.
What opportunities have you missed recently?
Who had God placed in your life that you could reach if your climate was different?
Jesus focused His earthly energy on the lost, the hurting, the broken, the searching and the needy. What’s interesting is that there isn’t a lot of Scripture that tells us that Jesus spent lots of time with the “religious leaders”. Jesus didn’t spend a whole lot of His earthly ministry doing “church stuff”. And yet, in our own Christian and church culture of today we’ve come to pride ourselves on that very statistic.
I’m not talking about never coming to church in the name of reaching people for Jesus
I’m not talking about washing our hands of the community of believers.
I’m not talking about watering the gospel down so that the world likes us.
I’m talking about having an air about us that is welcoming, loving, and redemptive.
I’m talking about creating a personal spiritual climate that communicates to those around you that you’re not perfect, you do have needs and it just so happens that Jesus meets those needs.