The title is intentional radical. I trust you realize that Jesus was radical. He was so radical that he offended his disciples by receiving the devotion of a woman who poured costly perfume on him. While they were upset with her, Jesus said, “Wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Mathew 26:13).
We all believe Jesus was radical, until he says something that contradicts our normal. What Jesus said contradicts today’s normal of Christians devoting their resources to noble causes and preaching social justice for the poor while we ignore the one mission he gave us.
I think causes are for those who won’t make disciples, and social justice is the carnal Christian’s reason to give to the poor. Jesus never endorsed a cause. He gave us only one mission—“MAKE DISCIPLES.” Christians who spend their time, money and energy on good causes but don’t make disciples are letting the good steal devotion from Jesus.
Jesus encouraged us to help the poor, so that we would have treasure in heaven. Jesus never preached helping the poor to establish social justice on earth. Earthly minded, i.e., carnal, Christians are motivated by social justice. Jesus expected us to help the poor for a heavenly reward.
Helping the poor is a good thing to do. But when doing good steals devotion from Jesus, it has replaced the top button of Christ. Like buttoning a shirt, if the top button is right, the rest will line up. Unfortunately, there are Christians who think doing good is the top button.
This way of thinking showed itself when the woman poured costly perfume on Jesus. “When the disciples saw this, they were indignant, ‘Why this waste?” they asked. This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor” (Matthew 26:7).
Notice, Matthew said that the disciples, not just Judas, were indignant. Judas had an ulterior motive of greed. That’s why he became indignant. The rest of the disciples were motivated by doing good. They became indignant because of all the good that could have done with the perfume that was wasted on Jesus.
Jesus, instead, received her devotion, and he affirmed his disciples’ motivation to do good. He did, however, correct their wrong priority. He said, “For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always” (Mark 14:7).
In today’s world of noble causes and social justice, don’t let the good steal devotion from Jesus.
Dr. Michael Peters is the lead pastor of Christ the King: TheCellChurch.com. He is married to Linda, and they have two children and seven grandchildren. Dr. Peters graduated from Covenant Seminary with an MA and obtained a PhD in historical theology from Saint Louis University. He has written several books. His most recent is titled Cell Vision. It’s about organic discipleship and how to develop supporters into disciple makers. He taught critical thinking and Biblical worldview at Missouri Baptist University. His favorite course textbook was Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom. His favorite philosopher is Nietzsche because postmodern people are just catching up with premodern Nietzsche. And his favorite Christian writer is G.K. Chesterton because he understood the difference between a poet and theologian. “The poet,” he wrote, “only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the theologian who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”