Become an environment changer
Posted by Chris Scott (Senior Leader Bridge Church)
Matthew Chapter 21 records Jesus's celebrated entry into Jerusalem. As I read it again recently I was struck by the words in v10 And as he came into Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred, saying, Who is this?
I love this phrase. As Jesus entered the city, the city 'was stirred up!' Jesus was an influencer; he was a environment changer! Whenever he came into a place, something changed...it just had to! He may have been accepted by some, and rejected by others but he could never be ignored! For the previous three years the people of Jerusalem would have heard some incredible stories about this traveling preacher and miracle worker. Constant reports would have reached the headlines about the amazing things he had done and said throughout the towns and villages of Israel.
Now as he entered the city they cast their cloaks before him; they ripped the leaves off the palm trees and laid them on the ground proclaiming 'Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.' v11. He was their great hope and deliver. Oh how things would be different just a few days later when they would be screaming out for his blood!
Of course, he continued to make the headlines as the next thing he did was to go into the Temple and turn the tables over, driving out the traders and loan sharks with a whip. He consistently confronted the religious leaders about their hypocrisy and corruption and often caused an uproar. It may be true that people either loved him or hated him but for certain, no-one was indifferent towards him.
My challenge is this; what about us? What about you and me? Do we change the atmosphere when we come into a place? Are we so neutral and tepid that we make no difference at all to the environment that God has entrusted us with. Are people indifferent to us as Gods people? Our offices, classrooms, homes and neighbourhoods should be enriched because we are there. I don't mean that in an arrogant way. or a contentious way. Jesus was passionate NOT arrogant! Jesus was compassionate not judgemental! But he did provoke a reaction! Salt and light are both agents of change. Their presence affects both the flavour and the brightness of the the environment.
What about our city? What about our town? What about our street, our school or business. What is their expectation of the church? Perhaps best we don't answer that! Jesus knew what his purpose was and was unflinching as he entered Jerusalem knowing full well how things would end up. But for the sake of the many whose lives were eternally changed he was prepared to stir things up. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said 'live your life in such a way as to make a non-believer question their disbelief in God.'
Jesus' entry in the city caused the people to ask 'who is this?' Isn't that what we want people to say about us. Who is this work colleague who is so different to everyone else. Why doesn't he join in bad mouthing the boss, or skiving off work early, rather than always being well mannered, fair minded, and kind. Who is this neighbour who says 'hi' every morning, or takes my rubbish up the dump without me asking, or offers to help out when i am struggling. Who is this classmate who doesn't gang up on the weakest in the class, or cheat own their exams? Is that 'who' you!! Does our life provoke the 'who is this' question in others (for the right reasons)? It should!
So 'stir up the gift' within you but also let the 'gift stir you up'...and maybe, just maybe together can stir up our city!