Jesus was a Box Checker

The American church likes to check boxes to assess health. Not only us, but other churches too. Boxes are not bad. But what the boxes represent could be. We check boxes for dollars, worship attendance, and small group attendance (or whatever you call them).  Jesus also had boxes he wanted checked. In the Exodus there were the 10 Commandments. In Galatians 5:22 there is a list of 9 spiritual fruits. The spiritual fruits are harder to measure. But you know when someone has become a more ‘kind’ person. In Philippians 4 there are eight ‘whatever’s’. But these are all more relational than just boxes needing to be checked. Look at the 10 Commandments – the first half is about your relationship with God, the second half is about your relationships with others. Sounds like the great commandment in Matthew 22.

All boxes should have a relational component to them. We should never ask just ‘who was here?’ But ‘how are they doing’. Since our charge from Jesus as His disciples is to make disciples, we need to know how those we are discipling are doing. We must check the relational box. How are they doing? How is their life? How is their relationship with God going? What needs to change in their life to look more like Jesus? Who has the Spirit put in their life to care for, to invest in, to show the love of Christ? Which is more important, that they were in attendance, or that they are growing as a disciple of Jesus, and they know their Father better as they follow His Spirit? Are their lives changed in such a way that the lives of others are also changed because of their life-change? All of those ‘boxes’ are important! Don’t ask one without asking the others.

In the great commandment in Mark 12, Jesus lists four ways we are to love God; with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. He uses the word ‘all’ with each of them. I grew up learning to love God with my mind. Rational thought, duty, obedience, and instruction was the only way to know Him. I thought it was only mind, memory, and action. I realized later my teachers meant more, but at the moment we focused on the mind. Not bad. Just all I knew. I read that I was to love Him with my heart, but just did not know how. Not just part, but all of my heart. I wasn’t sure how to love Him, even with a little part of my heart. And I did not know anyone who did. I was obedient and dutiful. I knew lots of people like that. In later years, I can look back and realize that many of them did love God with their heart. We just never talked about it. Over time, I have learned more and more how to love Him with my heart. His desire is a deeply connected relationship where we walk life’s roads together. God is a relational God, not just a God who started the planet spinning and will come back to get us some day. His Spirit is your very close comforter. The One who loves to guide you to peace. Jesus is closer than a brother. He wants your heart, your soul, your mind, and your strength to be focused on Him and His ways. That deep relationship can guide your life through many winding roads and down many paths…where ever He leads you. 

Jesus checked the relational boxes His Father set up. The rational boxes He checked were for relational purposes. As you launch out into the new year, why not try and see how you can love God in all four ways?

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    1. You are one of the most relational guys I know. Some people never check the relational box. At times in the past, I ran past people to get things done, or what I wanted. Now I try to be consistently relational so I don’t miss what God is wanting to do. Not perfect by any means, But working toward checking that box all day every day.

    2. You are!!!!
      You are incredibly intentionally relational…More than anyone I know!!! You live on purpose, and you make a difference in lives you don’t even know about 🙂

    1. Good point. However, I believe Jesus came to earth with very specific relational intentions, and He did them all…and is still doing them. I tend to have people come to my mind. I try to pray for them immediately. However, I write their name in text to myself to remind me later to call and see how they are. We are never done if we follow Him as He leads others into our paths.

  1. This one was a hard one to write. We know that relationships are the most important thing…with God and with others. And we know we are to ‘make disciples as we go’. But how much ‘intention’ are we to put in to it? We can just make it all about the boxes. But do we just wait and see who drops in our paths. I don’t think so. I think we walk our lives with ‘relational intentionality’. Live on purpose!
    That is the main subject for the book Mark and I wrote, ‘How God asks You to love Others’. I will give you a copy when we have breakfast 🙂

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