What is the hardest or toughest part of your job? People speak of long hours, financial challenges and team issues among thousands of answers to that question.
I want to suggest to you that, for all of us, the toughest part of our jobs is identical. I will use several phrases to describe it for you. The hardest part of your job is; to fulfill your calling or, to do the work you were born to do or, to realize your dream.
Of course each of those phrases has a double sided nature. As regards to calling, you have to know what it is, then fulfill it, and the same goes for birthright and dreams.
Here’s another suggestion. If you will watch the Son of Man fulfilling his destiny and calling you will learn something essential for yours. This 500th Worktalkweekly, along with the other 499, is designed to help you fulfill your calling and I always ask as I write, “what did Jesus do?” I don’t ask “what would Jesus do?” even though I understand it’s sentiment, because only what he did do takes you to his life rather than simply trying to guess. There is, however, still room for imagination as you are about to read.
Jesus grew up in the valley town of Nazareth. You can be sure that, like any other young boy or girl in the valley, he would have climbed to the top of the hill to see the view – and what a view it was. From the top of the hill he could see the Via Maris Road which went from Damascus to Egypt. He could see the Eastern Road which went from the coast to the Eastern Roman Empire where it connected with the silk routes. From the hill he could see the Mediterranean, full of ships and merchants.
It was here in the vicinity of Nazareth that we know a dream was forming, a call was crystallizing and a sense of destiny was developing.
The young Son of Man was forming, in his inner temple, a profound awareness that he was for everyone. The Roman soldiers on the Via Maris, the Arabian traders, the Eastern merchants all needed what he was. The inner temple growing in his soul was one for all nations, both men and women and every age group.
So deep was this calling that it affected his message and actions over and over again. Clearing out the money changers he shouts “This place is a house of prayer for all!” Speaking to his audience he explains that when he is lifted up he will draw all people to himself (just as he had thought about high on a Nazareth hill).
Perhaps the highest expression of his calling comes in one of his best known phrases “God so loved – the world”. Can you see it? The Son of Man’s toughest task was to convince a busy, distracted, confused world that God loves them all.
Do not underestimate the obstacles in his path. I’ll mention a few. Built inside just about every listener there is a sense that they are not loveable. Somewhere there lurks a shame or fear which resists love.
Second, and perhaps more obvious, is the inner sense that others are excluded from this love. Deep in the Jewish psyche of the day there was a belief, that as God’s chosen people, they had privilege denied to others.
So you will hear expressions of unworthiness alongside expressions of exclusivity in the audiences of Jesus’ day.
Here was his challenge. To enable those carrying shame and those carrying pride that God loves them. All of them.
It would become the story of his life and the story of his death but there is no doubt it was the driving force of both.
Look around you – God loves everyone you see. If you don’t see someone right now, imagine someone, anyone. God loves them.
Consider the most unusual, unlikeable, eccentric, obnoxious or hated person you know- God loves them.
Consider the person you despise, disagree with, disdain or distrust – God loves them. If you can exclude anyone from God’s love you have missed the point – “God so loved the world” – there are no exclusions.
Now look inside you – is there a part of you of which you are ashamed that leads you to conclude God does not love you? The truth is there is not a part of you which can exclude you from God’s love.
Even as you read these words you may be saying “but”. There is no “but” is Jesus’ words. He says ‘for God so loved the world-that’ and then you see the giving love of God.
The Son of Man knew that the hard part would be convincing people to believe it. It still is.
Now look at the son of Man himself. The toughest part of his work is also the toughest part of yours.
Can you so tell your life story and your death story that it provokes people to know God loves them?
Your plot and storyline will be unique to you, but I suggest that the toughest part will always be to live and die convinced and convincing that God loves.
Luke 2: 50 – 52
50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.
51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God.’”
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
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