Hi Friends: This is the first of the three-part mini-series on "The Spitting Jesus." Would love your feedback as I'm writing them!
My mom taught me not to spit, but apparently Jesus’ mom did not.
When Jesus miraculously cured the blind, he spat; in the mud, in the eyes – it seems like he was always spitting. In Mark 7, 8 and John 9, Jesus used his spit to give sight to those who were blind. Spit was a consistent, and somewhat puzzling, part of Jesus’ miracle technique.
Did he need spit to perform his miracles? No.
Do I love that he chose to? Yes.
When I spit, it’s rude.
When Jesus spits, it’s life-changing.
We have a Spitting Jesus.
He’s still spitting and opening peoples’ eyes today.
A Spitting Story
I once read a Spitting Jesus story to my son Josh, and he loved it. In fact, he was so enamored that, as I said goodnight, he slyly whispered, “Daddy, come here.” I leaned in close expecting something cute.
Then he spat in my face.
“What are you doing?!?!” I said with shock and a touch of anger.
Concern flooded his five-year-old eyes.
“I’m doing what Jesus does,” Josh said, pudgy cheeks quivering.
Doing What Jesus Does
The church I co-founded has a beautiful vision statement: every person will see Jesus clearly and find life.
I can’t imagine a more relevant vision in today’s world. The sheer volume of confusion blocking our eyes about what it means to be a Christian, the purpose of the Church, the term “evangelical,” and the role of ethics are at an all-time high.
We need a Church and people who know how to spit – in the gentle, loving, yet firm way of Jesus. In a cloudy culture, Jesus is still spitting; changing perceptions and lives every day.
"Spitting” means helping give others a clear view of Jesus and life in his Kingdom. It also means identifying things that present a faulty view of Jesus; a job that could make us grouchy if we're not careful.
We need a spitting Church.
We need spitting individuals.
We need to join the Spitting Jesus.
But we'll need grace to do it.
Learning to Spit
Anyone who endeavors to join the Spitting Jesus, must start with the hard work of gaining our own clear sight.
“First take the log out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to take the plank out of your neighbor’s eye,” Jesus said (Matthew 7:5).
Do we see Jesus clearly enough to help someone else?
Do we know when we have a log in our eye?
Can we tell what is from Jesus given today’s murky culture, and what is not?
“Can the blind lead the blind?” Jesus adds. “Won’t they both fall into the pit?” (Luke 6:39).
I recently received an email from a friend, whom I’ve known and loved for years, tacitly wishing for insurrection on inauguration day, all in Jesus’ name.
I like this guy. I’ve never known him to be anything but good-hearted and generous. But, as someone learning to spit, I must say: that’s not Jesus. Not remotely. That’s a false Jesus, and it's important we are clear about it. Jesus could have led a very successful insurrection, but that's just not him (Matthew 26:53).
My friend may not agree with me, but that won’t stop me from loving him. And it won’t keep me from spitting. Because our spitting is often most important for those who are watching. Failure to spit leads to a culture that quickly assumes the wrong things. Muddy eyes result. There's a lot of mud accumulating these days.
The stakes seem pretty high on this one.
The “Acid Test”
It’s amazing we can have a “log in our eye” and not realize it. The most dangerous part of being spiritually blind is being blind to our spiritual blindness (got that?). We rarely identify the problem as ourselves.
But we must ask: what are my "logs?"
Good Lord, I’m terrified to know the answer. God, help and forgive me for where I’m thoroughly self-unaware.
“Watch your life and doctrine closely,” one of the earliest Christian missionaries, Paul, tells an understudy (1 Timothy 4:16).
I’m trying. But, Lord, search my heart...
In the meantime, how do I know I am seeing God clearly enough to enter into Jesus’ spitting mission? Am I arrogant to tell my friend he's wrong? That situation seems clear, but what about issues that verge in more definite shades of grey?
Here's a beginner's guide to "log" removal:
The acid test for any theology is this: Is the God presented one that can be loved, heart, soul, mind, and strength? …If it fails to set a lovable God – a radiant, happy, friendly, accessible, and totally competent being – before ordinary people, we have gone wrong.
– Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy
That sounds about right. A clear view of that Jesus, the authentic One, is irresistible.
And that Jesus is worth spitting for.
Thanks for reading! Would you please share with someone else, like and feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Next post coming soon!