A key part of developing as a sacred agent is learning to live off-centre. It may sound obvious, but if Jesus is king, then we’re not. If Jesus is the centre, then we live and move and act in reference to him, not the other way around. Such a simple truth, but so essential for discipleship and disciple-making. Let’s look at two examples where our language gives our self-centredness away, and where a small change can make a giant difference.
The first, as I mentioned last year, is our tendency to talk about ‘inviting Jesus into your life.’ This phrase – right at the pointy edge of evangelistic conversations – places the hearer at the centre and makes Jesus an accessory. The result can be that people relate to Jesus as another possible help in life, to be juiced and managed and balanced with all the others. People ‘get themselves a little bit of religion’. Instead, what if we talked about how we are invited into Jesus’ life?
Perhaps we get the former from Revelation 3:20, where Jesus stands at the door and knocks. We can indeed leave him out or let him in – but this doesn’t make us the inviter. His coming and knocking is the invitation. Note the grace of his mutual language ‘I will eat with them, and they with me.’ This is not Uber Eats. This is an invitation to eat at the King’s table! We should word it as such.
Secondly, when introducing communion in our gatherings, I don’t think it’s helpful to announce that ‘This meal is for anyone who loves Jesus.’ It begs the question in every mind ‘Do I love Jesus?’ and then ‘How much do I love Jesus?’ and then ‘Do I love Jesus enough?’ It’s another key phrase in an absolutely key moment, and I fear that we rob the moment of the gospel, and the gospel of a moment.
Would it not be better to announce that ‘This meal is open to everyone whom Jesus loves’? The questions that this phrase begs are different: ‘Does Jesus love me – even me?’ and ‘How much does Jesus love me?’ These are far better questions, and ones with far better and clearer answers. And so our participation (on an equal footing with a first-timer’s) is a response to grace rather than a claim or an achievement.
Such tiny changes in wording. But I’m not being pedantic. There’s a world of difference between acknowledging Jesus as the centre and the host, and pretending that we are.
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