Have you ever unintentionally found yourself in a situation that when you stop to think about it, you realize that if you had to pay for the experience, you would never have been able to afford it? I found myself in a situation like that last week.
I was attending a lecture for pastors around Phoenix where Pastor Mark Driscoll was supposed to be talking about how Jesus maintained emotional and relational health in ministry. Due to low attendance, it turned into a two-hour chat with Mark Driscoll and Larry Osborne, who had flown in early to speak at Driscoll’s church that night, so for two hours, I sat with Larry Osborne directly on my left and Mark Driscoll next to him and listened as they riffed about leadership and ministry. One of the incredible ideas that was discussed in that two hours was something that Pastor Mark called, “10 Ways God Helps People”.
As followers of Jesus, we have particular lenses through which we view the world. Whether we’re charismatic, reformed, evangelical, or any other group, we all have slightly different ways of interpreting major themes in the Bible, and we will argue about which is the biblical way of seeing problems and their solutions. Pastor Mark shared a list of 10 lenses, suggesting that all of them were, in fact, biblical and necessary for us to serve people well. And the point of these is to learn to think outside our typical paradigms and serve people with the full counsel of God. As a disclaimer, I will acknowledge that each of these lenses has the potential to be abused, but I will only be focusing on their benefits in this post:
1. Sin & Repentance
Many Christians view the major problems in peoples’ lives as problems of sin and the solution as repentance. The Bible supports this by using the Law as a way to show us the standard and how short we fall of it (Rom. 7). Jesus stands in as our perfection as we repent of our sin and trust in him. One of the first commands given in the book of Acts is “repent and be baptized, every one of you” (Acts 2:38).
2. Idolatry & Worship
Martin Luther concluded from his study of the commandments that if you don’t break first two commandments, you won’t break the others. You won’t worship money and steal. You won’t worship your reputation and lie. You won’t worship somebody else and covet your neighbor’s spouse. This fits with the apostle John’s command in 1 John 5:21: “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.”
3. Condemnation & Forgiveness
Some see the primary problem as condemnation and the solution as forgiveness. We feel condemned by our sin. We feel dirty. We feel unqualified. We feel rejected by God because of what we have done. And he offers full, free, and total forgiveness in Jesus Christ. This is supported by Romans 8:1: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
4. Oppression & Deliverance
We have a very real enemy who hates us and who wants to destroy us by any means available to him. Jesus comes to deliver with more power and authority than our enemy, and his Kingdom is one of deliverance and freedom, not oppression and death. Acts 10:38 says that Jesus “went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.”
5. Slavery & Freedom
Before we know Jesus, we are slaves to sin. Jesus came to set us free. But we need to know that freedom is not freedom from something. Freedom is freedom to someone. He sets us free so that we can be in relationship with Him. This is the story of the Exodus. Inaugurating his ministry, Jesus reads Isaiah in Luke 4, saying that it is fulfilled in his reading: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
All of these categories are biblical, and all of these categories can be abused. The call for the people of God is for wisdom and discernment to determine the right Scripture to use for the right person in the right moment, and my prayer is that God will guide you as you grow in these areas.