Another Look by David Faust
What would it be like if Jesus attended your business meetings—even the ones at church? Can you picture him huddling with the elders for prayer? Sitting at the conference table while worried-looking leaders with furrowed brows analyze the budget? Listening patiently while the most talkative member of the group blathers on? Can you imagine him looking over your shoulder at the next item on the agenda?
And speaking of agendas—would he be pleased with the topics we discuss at our meetings? Is our agenda the same as his? Do our church meetings really focus on the Great Commission and the Great Commandments?
Jesus resisted any agendas that threatened to detour him from pursuing the Father’s purpose. Satan tempted him for 40 days, but instead of allowing the devil to set the agenda, Jesus sternly ordered, “Away from me, Satan!” (Matthew 4:10).
When the Lord went off to a solitary place for prayer, Peter sent out a search party with the urgent message, “Everyone is looking for you!” But instead of letting the crowd set the agenda, Jesus calmly replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come” (Mark 1:35-38).
Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to him teach. Distracted by dinner preparations, Martha had a different agenda. “Lord,” she complained, “don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” But despite her good intentions and understandable frustrations, Jesus wouldn’t let Martha set the agenda. “You are worried and upset about many things,” he told her, “but only one thing is needed” (Luke 10:38-42).
With their stomachs full of bread and fish, the multitudes stirred with excitement. They hoped for a political Messiah who would free them from the iron fist of Rome, and this miracle-working rabbi from Nazareth fit the bill. But “Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself” (John 6:15). The crowd’s agenda wasn’t his agenda.
It seldom is. The disciples assumed he would ignore little children, but Jesus said, “Let them come to me.” They assumed he wouldn’t hang around with tax collectors, but Jesus joined them for lunch. It wasn’t customary for a Jewish man to talk with a Samaritan woman, but Jesus did so in broad daylight by Sychar’s well. Immediately after confessing his faith in Christ, Peter argued against the Lord’s announced plans to suffer rejection and crucifixion. “Never, Lord,” Peter said. “This shall never happen to you!” But Jesus rebuked his friend Peter and told him, “You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:22, 23).
That’s the problem with agendas. Too often they reflect “the things of men,” while “the things of God” sound too painful to make the list. Things like picking up crosses and denying ourselves seldom find a place on our agendas.
It makes me wonder. Who’s really setting the agenda for my life—for the way I use my time, spend my money, focus my energy, and plan my future? Who’s really setting the agenda for my church?
Come to think of it, Jesus does sit at the conference table. He attends every business meeting, listens to every conversation. The one who said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” also promised, “Surely I am with you always” (Matthew 28:18-20). I’m glad he’s there. Because when all is said and done, his agenda is the one that matters most.