What were Jesus’ Core Values?

by | Jan 22, 2010

Just Love Africa! Just Love, Africa! Just Love!

Recently I have been thinking about what Jesus would have replied if he was asked for the core values of the Kingdom of God. After all if he has stated what his core values are would it not follow that we should adopt the same values, at least those of us who claim to be believers?  I googled core value and I found this definition which clarified the concept. “a small set of key concepts and ideals that guide a person’s life and help him or her to make important decisions”

As I though about this I realized that he was once asked the question after a fashion by the religious experts of the day.  His audience is as instructive as his answer. The Bible reproduces the conversation,    

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”    

As I stated above Jesus audience was as instructive as his answer. He was speaking to the leading religious men of his day, teachers and scholars every one of them. They were men famous for their ritualistic and fanatical performance of the laws of Moses, they devoted their lives to the study and performance of the law. However as you read the gospels you will see that both Jesus and his cousin, the forerunner prophet John, reserved their strongest criticism for these men and their teachings.    

To these men then Jesus points to his core values, Love of God and Love for others. The pharisees had reduced their faith to a system of actions and performance but  Jesus reminded them that the heart of the Kingdom is relationship. I can honestly say that having been a believer in Jesus for more than 20 years now that this is a truth that I have heard and taught innumerable times, but as I look back I am aware of how little we truly understand the implications of these core values. In the past I have thundered against “those Pharisees” without recognising the pharisee that lurked in me too. I came to faith in Jesus when I was 18 gratefully accepting the grace supplied by faith in Jesus’ work at the cross, the free gift that made it all possible but the further I pushed into church life the more I began to think in terms of performance and trying to perfect by my effort and work something that God had given me by grace. There is something in the religious nature of man that always seeks to define our relationship with God in terms of “What must I do?” Doing deeds gives us the illusion of control, it seems safer somehow than the uncertainties of a relationship. However God has never sought to have many obedient servants rather he is bringing many sons to glory, Jesus is returning not for a hard-working maid but a spotless, and perfected bride. God is into love. Unconsciously my focus shifted from wanting to be a man who loved God and loved others to being a man who obeyed God. Not that I was trying to earn my salvation but in almost everything else was trying hard to be pleasing to God through what I did, my deeds, my work, my performance. I had become a pharisee! I had lost my joy!That began to change in  Dec 2006 when I felt God speaking powerfully to me out of the second letter to the Ephesians, found in Revelation 2:1-7    

These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.    

As I read these words they sprung from the page so fresh that it seemed that the ink could hardly be dry, this was a letter to me and my church in East London rather than Ephesus. On the surface we were a great church working hard, persevering, we would not tolerate sin in ourselves or others, we had recently gone through major leadership challenges and survived. However I was near burnt out, I almost wanted to quit. It was true I had lost my first love, I was very religious but I was no longer in love with Jesus. I now realise that the warning to remove my lampstand from its place was not a threat of judgement but just a spiritual health warning that if something did not change I would soon be out of oil! That word sent me and consequently our church into a season of reconnecting with God and of once again seeking to fall in love with Jesus which led to an encounter with God which has changed me forever.   

In September 2008 I attended the “Supernatural ways of Royalty conference” in Fortuna, California. From the start the presence of God was manifest in the room in a tangible way I had not felt often over the years. At times in worship I would literally feel the presence of Jesus like some sort of glorious electrical current burning around me. It caused a love and a yearning for more of Him to rise in my heart. Some of my colleagues may at this point want to warn me of the dangers of subjective experiences, or even to deride these so-called “Holy Ghost goose bumps”, It’s okay, I understand, I have been there and done it too, all I can say is that reading about the presence of God and experiencing the presence of God are two different things as far removed from one another as a description of a kiss to experiencing one! I realise it is safer to go with the description but nothing can compare with his kiss! On the last day of the conference the organisers ended with a “Fire Tunnel” something I had never experienced before. The prayer team lined up at the front of the auditorium in two parallel lines facing each other and invited those that wanted prayer to pass between them whilst they prayed for God to touch them. The first time I went through the tunnel I became aware of a burning sensation on my forehead, as if someone had smeared warm oil on me, so I decided to go through again. I was hungry for a deeper touch from God. The second time around however it was as if the smear of oil on my forehead had exploded, I felt a warm liquid sensation pouring down my body and then as I got to the end of the fire tunnel Kris Vallotten, Dano McCollum and a young woman touched me and said “get him Lord!”.  I felt a bolt of electricity leave their hands and flow through my body and out my feet. I hit the floor laughing uncontrollably filled with joy, in love with life and in love with God! I remained that way for about two hours whilst ministry went on and as the room was packed up around me, it was one of the most enriching, freeing, glorious experiences of my life. I was dragged outside into the foyer because I was totally overwhelmed with God’s love and joy. I was finally driven to my hotel still drunk several hours later. I became an addict that night, I had become addicted to the presence of God.    

Soon after I had that experience I began to lead others into their own encounters with the presence of God, our church radically changed, I found joy in serving Jesus again. It is true not everyone liked the change in me or our church, in fact initially we lost about a quatre of our membership and among them were some wonderful friends and leaders who just could not relate to what had happened to me and where we were now going as a church. However, other amazing changes began to happen. We started to see miracles of healing and other signs and wonders breaking out in our church and in our city including blind eyes, deaf ears, asthma, meningitis and hundreds of other diseases and infirmities getting healed. Life became exciting again. At times when God’s manifest presence comes people begin falling, weeping, laughing, shaking, rolling, shouting, dancing or they become immobile frozen in one place. People have started having dreams, visions, some have encountered angels, the prophetic has climbed off the charts, our worship has gone to previously uncharted depths, and a boldness to declare God’s goodness to our city has come on our people. In the course of last year we had the opportuntity to touch churches all over our nation and even as far away as the USA, and Zimbabwe amazingly it seems we are casting a longer shadow than our size appears to warrant. From all over testimonies of God’s power and goodness are coming back to us and we hear people saying they have fallen in love with Jesus. Best of all, WE fell in love with Jesus again. LOVE CHANGES EVERYTHING.  

Now I regularly hear testimonies of church members out sharing the practical love of Jesus on the streets, praying for the sick, or giving a word of encouragement that supernaturally hits the mark of someone’s profound need because once you have encountered the love of God, and know that you are loved it is easier to give love away. Loving your neighbour is so much easier after an encounter with God’s love and grace because his presence is the oil which feeds the lamp of our lives.   

Our core value in the Kingdom is Love, because to love you have to be in relationship. Relationship is impossible without the presence of the one we love. If we start anywhere else be it Faith, Lordship, Evangilism, Discipleship, the vision or anything else we will tend towards performance which leads us to religion and not relationship, to death and condemnation rather than the life in Christ Jesus. Only love will keep us coming back to the throne of grace and there we will find the oil to light up the world that they may see just how good He truly is.   

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