You are amazing. What does it take to have someone say that to us? But even then, what does it mean? What does amazing really mean? What kind of amazing do we want to be? And why?
We are those who must withdraw from society in order to survive it. Like you, we have all undergone a drastic change to everything we know. For many of us, secluding ourselves was the only remaining option if we wished to conduct normal lives. The world does not welcome us anymore, so we have made a place where we can belong, here, together. In this place, far from the cares of civilization, we are safe.
from “Relentless (Dominion Trilogy Book #1)” by Robin Parrish
The book is a work of fiction. It’s not about Christians. It does, however, raise some interesting questions. Questions that we should be asking ourselves.
Who are you people?
More importantly – are you like them?
The people in the book were those who had been given amazing capabilities.
But what about us? You and me? But first, another question. Are you Christian? If you are, do you know we are supposed to be amazing? And did you know people should be asking, “Who are you people?”
For Christians, if we live according to what Jesus taught, people should be asking us, “Who are you?”, with the goal of wanting to be like us.
Unfortunately, that’s too often not the case.
So let’s look at the “You are amazing!” part and see if we can find out what went wrong? Not with Christianity, but what went wrong with us?
Jesus did tell us we can be amazing. It’s right here, bolded and underlined.
Jn 14:5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jn 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Jn 14:8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jn 14:9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
See the text I emphasized. People that have faith in Jesus will do even greater things than what He has done. That’s some pretty amazing capabilities!
Can we be amazing today?
There are some who say these amazing things won’t happen until the End Times. But then what of people who do have some of them today?
Others will say we can’t do them today because we don’t have enough faith. That’s a dangerous position to take. It can lead people to think they’re somehow failing God if they don’t have some specific gift. That’s not the case at all. Look at what Jesus said about faith the size of a mustard seed.
17:14-19 pp — Mk 9:14-28; Lk 9:37-42
Mt 17:14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”
Mt 17:17 “O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.
Mt 17:19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
Mt 17:20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’” Mt 17:22 When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. 23 They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.”
Some translations also have verse 21, but the NIV does not:
[21 “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”]
There are two caveats here.
First – Jesus wasn’t talking about moving a literal physical mountain. In Biblical times, mountains were often used as a symbol for very large problems. So what He’s saying in this passage is that even a tiny bit of faith can help us overcome some very large obstacles or problems.
And then there’s the second caveat. Whatever we ask / do in faith, it must be in God’s name. Therefore, it must also be His will. We can’t ask to be able to do something just because we want to do it. We are to ask things in His name and according to His purpose.
To that end, maybe – I repeat maybe – one of our biggest reasons we aren’t so amazing today is that we’re out of touch with God’s will?
Be amazing – a drastic change is required
The people in the book underwent a drastic change to everything they knew.
What about us, as Christians? We’re supposed to go through a drastic change. Transformation, in church-speak. But do we? If we want to be amazing, it’s essential.
But the change isn’t something we do on our own. It’s through Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Jn 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.
The Word is Jesus.
Jn 1:3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
Gaining even part of the light of Jesus is what enables our transformation. Helps us to be amazing.
Jn 1:6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
Jn 1:10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
What makes that transformation possible? to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. Receiving Jesus. Believing in Him. But more than just “believing” the way we use the word today. What was originally said was about believing, and then acting on that belief. For more on that, please see Are we supposed to Believe God, Believe in God or Follow God?
Jn 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jesus walked the earth, teaching, but His ministry was only three years. After that, we have the Holy Spirit, the mind of Christ.
Jn 1:15 John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ” 16 From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.
Jesus was the light who came into the world. He came for all, as we see in verse 7 –
He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe.
Be amazing – understanding required
But not everyone understood. Those that did understand – who are willing to get out of the darkness and move into the light – everything changed. And they aren’t easy changes – at least not by our own capabilities. But with Jesus – it is possible. Too much change for us to handle on our own.
A change that allows us to be amazing. A change that will have other people asking, who are you people? And one that will have people saying, I want to be like you.
However, it will only happen if we allow ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit. If we follow what Jesus taught, and use His strength and power to do it.
The rest of the world, the ones who didn’t understand – hated the people in the book so much that they felt they had to hide to be safe.
And yes, many people around the world hate Christians as well. Sometimes, because we don’t act like Christians. We claim to act in Jesus’ name, but do horrible things in the process. But when we do live according to Jesus’ teachings, we will also be hated by others, but for a very different reason.
10:2-4 pp — Mk 3:16-19; Lk 6:14-16; Ac 1:13
10:9-15 pp — Mk 6:8-11; Lk 9:3-5; 10:4-12
10:19-22 pp — Mk 13:11-13; Lk 21:12-17
10:26-33 pp — Lk 12:2-9
10:34, 35 pp — Lk 12:51-53
Mt 10:17 “Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
In many parts of the world, such as here in the U.S., it’s not this bad. Yet. But it does happen in some places, even now. And the time is coming when it’ll happen here too.
Mt 10:21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
Mt 10:24 “A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!
Live our lives as Jesus did. Like He taught.
Mt 10:26 “So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Yes, that probably sounds scary. And yet, Jesus tells us not to be afraid. Because along with His strength and power, we also have His peace.
Mt 10:32 “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.
Mt 10:40 “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. 41 Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”
That’s how to be amazing.
And yes, that sounds pretty bad. Being arrested. Being put to death. Having to run when being persecuted.
Hiding from the world does seem like the “safe” thing to do. However, …
Is hiding the right thing to do?
The people in the book did end up going out into the world – because of the man who asked the title question: “Who are you people?:
What about us today? Do we, as Christians, go out into the world? Or do we stay hidden? Especially, do we keep the Christian in us compartmentalized? Are we Christian in church, but just like everyone else as soon as the service is over?
And like the people in the book, are we waiting for someone to tell us to go out into the world?
Mt 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Jesus has already told us to go out into the world. If we are waiting for someone to tell us that we need to go outside where it may not be safe – we missed it. It’s already been said!
Who are you people?
Who are we – as Christians?
We are people who have been told, in the words of Jesus to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”.
We cannot do that while hiding in a safe place and never interacting with the world!
Nor can we do it if we’re only “Christians” in church, but keep it hidden the rest of the time. Christianity isn’t how to behave in church. Christianity is how to live our lives.
The world seems to be pushing more and more for “safe” places”. Especially on college campuses, where free thought and discussion are supposed to be one of the main purposes of higher education. But it’s not happening. The people of the darkness are taking over. Trying to silence the people of the light. Making us even more hated. Moving towards making our speech illegal. Moving towards exactly where Jesus said we would be – coming full circle back to where it was in the early church.
Jn 17:13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.”
Notice – My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one..
Jesus did not pray for us to be removed from the world.
Although – I have to say, there are times when I really wish He would take me home.
Even as the hatred increases, even as we wish more and more to hide. or to escape and go home, we need to remember that Jesus is praying for us.
Jesus prayer is –
not that we successfully hide, but that we have the strength (from Him) to continue to do what He wants us to do.
not that we leave the world, but that we go out into the world, no matter how much they don’t want us to.
that we will be protected from Satan while we are out giving the message,
and that we remember the protection is for the long term. Not that we live nice quiet lives, but that we stay with Him. Forever, in the Kingdom of God for eternity.
Conclusion – You are amazing! Who are you people?
Without everything we’ve just looked at, we cannot be amazing.
For those who think amazing means healing, speaking in tongues, prophecy and the more flashy gifts from the Holy Spirit, consider something else.
Jesus spoke a lot about love. Love God. Love each other. And Love our neighbor, which means love everyone. Even, love our enemies.
If we can receive the Holy Spirit and live our lives showing that kind of love, isn’t that amazing?
So fellow Christians – be amazing. Live that life. All the time. Live a life so full of God’s joy and love that others will ask, who are you? And how can I be like you?
That’s our opening to perform the Great Commission. To tell them how to be like us, by being like Jesus. And how loving is that? How amazing is that?