How to Slow Down So You Don’t Miss What Jesus Has to Teach You about Himself
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2013 8 Aug
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Mika Nappa's upcoming book, God in Slow Motion: Reflections on Jesus and the 10 Unexpected Lessons You Can See in His Life (Thomas Nelson, 2013).
We often rush through Bible passages, trying to gain spiritual growth from reviewing them quickly before moving on to the rest of our lives. But Jesus Christ was never in a hurry during His time on Earth. The life Jesus modeled was one of patience, and patience is necessary for us to learn the lessons that He wants to teach us.
Slowing down will enable you to pay attention well to what Jesus has to tell you, so you don’t miss lessons about His character that can change your own life for the better.
Here’s how you can slow down so you don’t miss what Jesus has to teach you about Himself:
Learn about mischievous glory. Making the time to fully reflect on the humble way that Jesus chose to enter our world – as a baby in a manger (a feeding trough for animals) can show you how mischievous God is about His glory. Just as Jesus’ touch transformed the lowly manger into a symbol of God’s glory, God’s touch transforms our lives. We’re forgotten beings used for base purposes until we begin relationships with Jesus, but from then on, we become treasures who are free to pursue glorious purposes. Jesus welcomes us as we are (sinful, lost, helpless, and debased) and transforms us into people who enjoy His glorious presence and radiate it to others as His love flows through us.
Learn about mysterious grace. The Bible story of how Jesus met with a Samaritan woman at a well and offered her “living water” shows how He draws people to Himself by pointing out something we need but don’t currently have or something we want to know that only He can reveal to us. Jesus’ interaction with the woman shows both the curiosity of human nature and the mystery of God’s grace at work. Studying this story, you realize that God won’t be defined or limited by human expectations, so He can’t be easily explained or understood – but in every one of God’s mysteries that you encounter, you see glimpses of God at work that can help you get to know Him better.
Learn about criminal kindness. Reading about how Jesus transformed Levi the tax collector (who was considered a criminal due to his corrupt practices) into Matthew the apostle (who joined Jesus in His earthly ministry and wrote the Gospel of Matthew) shows you that when Jesus comes along, even people with the worst behavior can change into people who work for the best. Reflecting on this story teaches you that Jesus sees you as a beloved person that He wants to use in His kingdom – regardless of the mistakes you may have made in the past – and inspires you to say “yes” whenever Jesus calls you to follow Him into an adventure.
Learn about frightening wonder. When you reflect on how Jesus calmed the storm that was raging on the Sea of Galilee around his frightened disciples, you can discover the wonder of how Jesus can help you, too, in even the scariest circumstances you encounter. Jesus hasn’t promised to help you avoid trouble, but to overcome it. Jesus is always in control of the circumstances in your life, and you can tap into His awesome power to deal with them. Choose to trust Him to help and guide you when storms hit your life.
Learn about stolen miracles. The Bible story of how Jesus miraculously healed a woman who had been suffering from a bleeding condition for years can teach you about the proper perspective on miracles. Jesus won’t simply hand out miracles just because people ask for them, and when He does choose to perform miracles, He does so in unexpected ways. Jesus’ compassion is bigger than your vision; it encompasses everything you need, including factors you didn’t even realize that you needed. Choose to trust Jesus even when His vision for you is different from your expectations of Him.
Learn about tattered faith. Reflecting on how Jesus responded when the imprisoned John the Baptist expressed damaged faith can teach you how to deal well with doubts and discouragement of your own. John sent some men to ask Jesus whether or not He really was the Messiah. Jesus answered by telling the men to report to John the evidence that supported his role as the Messiah (from the blind receiving sight to good news being proclaimed to the poor). From this story, you can learn that faith in Jesus is more than just hope; it’s the substance of hope, because there’s real, solid evidence that Jesus is exactly who He claims to be. You can always be honest with Jesus about your thoughts and feelings when your faith is tattered, and ask Him hard questions, too. He will respond by giving you stronger faith.
Learn about beautiful sorrow. As you consider the Bible story of Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha, you can learn about the beauty of Jesus’ willingness to enter fully into human sorrow, as well as His power to redeem it. Jesus’ intentionally let Lazarus die (and Mary and Martha grieve) before He resurrected Lazarus so He could show how beauty can come out of suffering for those who place their trust in God. Jesus is a Man of Sorrows who cares deeply about your own sorrow and stands ready to redeem it.
Learn about insulting greatness. Reading the Bible story of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet, you can discover what true service looks like: a willingness to do whatever God requires (even when it seems insulting to other people) with humility that ironically marks true greatness at work. Instead of serving others to impress God, serve simply as a way of expressing your love for a God who already loves you completely and unconditionally. Serving with great love – even in the humblest of ways – will lead to great results.
Learn about brutal love. Jesus’ brutal death on the cross to pay for humanity’s sins was motivated by His great love. Reflecting on Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross helps you grasp the contrast between the brutality of sin and the love of God, who is willing to do whatever it takes to save you from sin. Thanks to what Jesus did for you on the cross, you don’t have to be destroyed by sin by can be reconciled to the source of all love: God.
Learn about bloodied hope. Studying the Bible story of “Doubting Thomas” (the apostle Thomas who doubted that Jesus had risen from the dead until he met the resurrected Jesus in the flesh) can teach you that true confidence and peace come from Jesus meeting you wherever you are. Jesus stands ready to respond to your doubts and answer your challenging questions, so bring them to Him with an open mind. You can find real hope in Jesus’ bloodied body because it’s evidence of what He did to connect you with God forever.
Adapted from God in Slow Motion: Reflections on Jesus and the 10 Unexpected Lessons You Can See in His Life, copyright 2013 by Mike Nappa. Published by Thomas Nelson, Nashville, Tn., www.thomasnelson.com.
Mike Nappa is a best-selling and award-winning author and editor of many books and ministry resources. He holds a master’s degree in English and a Bachelor’s degree in Christian Education, with an emphasis in Bible theology. Most of all, Mike Nappa loves Jesus. Visit his website at: www.napaland.com.
Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, is author of the new Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood's golden age. Visit her website at: whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.
Publication date: August 7, 2013