The perfect mix

All this incredible warm weather has got me thinking about one of my top-pick pastimes in the summer -- grilling!

Just the other night we had some jalapeno burgers on the grill. Man, were those tasty! But my favorite grill item is slow cooked, spiced-rubbed ribs.

My first shot at ribs was a few years back. I researched the type of dry rub that I wanted to create to apply and picked one that had a generous portion of cayenne and garlic, two ingredients that I love. Then I decided to let the rub "rest" on the ribs for a couple of days, you know, to really let all those spices absorb into the meat.

Then the time came to slow grill, so I set the temperature to about 200 degrees. After the nearly three-hour grilling time, I finally pulled the ribs off for the family and I to eat. I took my first bite -- hmmmm, lots of flavor and spicy. "Grand slam" home run! Unfortunately, for the rest of the family, it was a "called third strike out" as the flavor that I had concocted was way too strong. According to my family, my rub was not the perfect mix!    

Sometimes in life it is hard to get the perfect mix. Like in the area of finding the balance between family time and work, some people work too much while others may not apply themselves enough in their vocation. Or maybe there is a struggle for the right equality between hobbies and the "honey-do list." For some it might even be something like having the right mix of words, between encouraging and critical. 

For Christians as well there is a perfect mix that Jesus has prescribed. In Matthew 10:8b, in giving a charge to his first disciples, Jesus said, "Freely you have received; freely give." Jesus was pointing his followers to two activities that need to be a part of their everyday lives: receiving and giving.

If you want to get the fuller context of this passage, you have to go back to Matthew chapter 9. In that passage, Jesus is modeling or demonstrating what he is all about. He sees the crowd and his heart breaks for them as he sees people living "harassed and helpless," people without leadership in their lives. He shares the good news, heals the sick and prays for more followers to reach out to the hurting. 

Then at the beginning of Matthew chapter 10, Jesus "gave them authority," or in other words, he delegated responsibility to these first followers. Jesus entrusted his work to their care. Can you imagine their response, "Oh no, Jesus, you do it. You are doing really well at it!" But Jesus is undeterred as he is all about enlisting his followers to do his work.

In Matthew 10:5, Jesus "sent them out." Not only did Jesus delegate responsibility, but he also set them into motion. The Lord launched this group of, perhaps you might say, ill prepared agents into full-blown, Jesus-centered activity. 

But the basis of being entrusted with responsibility and being launched out was "freely you have received, freely give." Jesus reminds his first followers that they have received much from him: a great mentor, amazing teaching and even healing in their lives, and now the time has come to "pass that forward."

Another way of understanding "freely you have received, freely give" is the perfect mix of knowing and doing. There is a very important intellectual part of following Jesus -- understanding the works of Jesus and the universality of his redemption. Also, there is an ongoing process of understanding more and more of who the LORD is and his ways. But this is not enough because following involves the carrying out of what one has absorbed about Jesus, the actual doing of his will. 

If your mix is off and you are into too much of a receiving mind-set, you are in danger of becoming a "sit and absorb Christian." I know that this could feel like a heavy judgment, but it is worth the risk since a ton of potential impact in the community is at stake here.

You might be a "sit and absorb Christian" if:

1. You do not realize that Jesus has entrusted responsibility to you and has sent you out to do something (not just "come and get");

2. You look at everything as a consumer -- happy when in comfort, aggravated when challenged. Some have the view that Jesus is there solely for their comfort;

3. You never volunteer to help in any way because you do not think you are prepared. In this case, you haven't realized that the doing is the preparation.

Jesus' dream is that his followers would move beyond just receiving. If you are a follower of Jesus, he has a mission for you today.

Are you a part of the "impact of Jesus" in modern times? Or are you just receiving? I want to challenge you to come to grips with the dreams, plans and hopes that Jesus has for you and your life. 

Imagine what would happen if every follower of Christ took what he or she knew and applied it by doing. It would revolutionize Northern Michigan in an amazing way. And it would be a mix that everyone in our community would enjoy!

Norm Byers is the lead pastor of Genesis Church, which meets 9:30 a.m. Sundays at the Petoskey Cinema and 11 a.m. Sundays at Boyne City elementary. For more information, visit www.genesiswired.com. Comments and insights are welcomed on Twitter @NormByers.
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