It has been almost 16 years since a form of JesusNext was received, and immediately I felt I had something I needed to tell a world. I have tried driving across Canada, I have tried the internet, seminars, preaching, teaching and many other forms of communication, but this idea has not changed the world as I expected. It seems Jesus is less concerned with the outward than the inward.
Jesus has been developing me, and like the Israelites in the desert for forty years before entering the Promised Land; “He has humbled me and tested me, so that in the end it might go well with me”. (Deuteronomy 8:16) I mean, “what good is it to gain the whole world, and yet forfeit my own soul?” (Matthew 16:26) The increasing understanding that Jesus is in full control, and that my life is a living sacrifice, has relieved my expectations that I should attain all the comforts that this world should offer. It has brought me peace that is only found by faith in the LORD.
Before JesusNext I never really considered the depravity of my heart, but after 16 years I still find myself wrestling against my sinful nature. Jesus calls us evil (Matthew 7:11) and says, “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19). Henri Nouwen’s book talks about our identity and our increasing need of affirmation from others. He discusses two main enemies to the spiritual life: anger and greed. “When my sense of self depends on what others say of me, anger is a quite natural reaction to a critical word. And when my sense of self depends on what I can acquire, greed flares up when my desires are frustrated.” (page 23) It is only in placing my faith in Jesus that I can face my anger, for only He can truly affirm me; and it is only in placing my faith in Jesus that I can face my greed, as He will provide what I need, not a big bank account. I must have faith that Jesus is in full control, and my life is called to be a living sacrifice.
So why do I bring this up?
JesusNext will be a battle in the heavenly realms. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12) JesusNext is a simple idea that has the ability to travel in our world quickly, but it is the adoption by the individual that Jesus will be concerned with. Are you willing to be criticized by others and trust in the LORD’s words to love our enemies? Are you willing to part with your possessions that give you a false sense of security and trust the LORD will provide all your needs?
“Do not judge or you too will be judged.” Serving the poor requires me to face anger and greed. I am angry that I see continual destructive behaviour and I am greedy by withholding my possession to relieve the suffering of the poor. But I journey deeper into Jesus and pray for an unconditional, non-judgemental love to flow. If I judge the poor like we judged the black people of Selma then I will oppress in the same manner. There is much in me that is evil, but I choose Jesus and His greatest command.