I think that I’ve mentioned before that I subscribe to the John Stott Bible Study. It’s been a while since I’ve actually read a complete commentary that I’ve received in my e-mail, but today I did.
Today begins a study of Romans which is good because it’s the book that I’ve been reading bits of most recently. The study for today begins with commentary on Romans 1:1-7. In his commentary Stott says that Paul was motivated to reach the nations with the gospel because he was zealous that the name of Jesus be glorified. Stott says that Christians should be “ ‘jealous’ (as Scripture sometimes puts it) for the honour of his name – troubled when it remains unknown, hurt when it is ignored, indignant when it is blasphemed, and all the time anxious and determined that it shall be given the honour and glory which is due to it.” (italics mine)
After reading this, the first thing I thought was “Yeah, but…” followed by an attempt to moderate the statement in order to make myself feel better about the fact that I am neither troubled nor hurt by ignorance of Jesus, nor indignant when my peers spit out his holy name as part of a curse, nor anxious and determined that the name of Jesus be given proper honor and glory. At least, not as a rule. Why is that?
Why am I not troubled and hurt by ignorance of Jesus? To reply that I simply don’t care doesn’t really answer the question. At the risk of coming across as insincere, I think that the following quotes from the Bible truly do provide the answer. I do not “have the mind of Christ”; I have not been “transformed by the renewing of” my mind; I have not attained the “fullness of Christ”, that is a full appreciation of who he is and what he has accomplished on my behalf and the behalf of everyone on the planet.
Why am I not indignant when people around me speak the name of Jesus as a curse? To some degree, it’s because I expect it. Or more accurately, I don’t expect people around me to honor his name because I don’t see that they honor anyone. They may admire someone for something they have, but I can’t think of anyone whom my peers honor. For that matter, I’m not sure who it is that I honor. Just because I say that I honor the name of Jesus, doesn’t mean that I do. I’m not exactly sure what honoring someone looks like. Honor is a concept that is very difficult for Westerners to grasp, whether we’re Christians or not.
Why am I not anxiously determined to see the name of Jesus honored and glorified in the world? Perhaps the answer is found in examining what I am anxious and determined about. These days I’m anxious about repatriating to the US next year. I anxious about providing for my family. I’m determined to make the move in spite of all of the adversity that this move will entail. I’m anxious about my children and my relationship with them. I’m anxious about getting traffic at this blog. (How embarrassing that is to see in writing!) I’m determined to get out of my host country as smoothly as possible. So, it appears that I’m anxious and determined when it comes to me and my world, but not when it comes to Christ and the wider world.
So, how do I become troubled, hurt, indignant, anxious and determined regarding the honor of Jesus? How do I go about acquiring the “mind of Christ”? How do I come to understand the meaning of honor? Should those emotions actually rise up within me at some point, what is the proper way to express them?