What’s Your Life Verse?
This past Sunday, the sermon text was Luke 4:14-21, the passage in which Jesus reads from the scroll of Isaiah at the beginning of His public ministry. Jesus tells the people, “I’ve come to fulfill this scripture.” This was the passage that defined Jesus’ public ministry, giving us a framework to understand everything He did. On the way out of the service, a friend yelled at me, “Hey, Mike. What’s your life verse?” The answer was easy. I’d been asking myself that question ever since I read Luke 4 in my personal Bible study.
What scripture defines me? The story of the Gerasene Demoniac. Jesus’ encounter with this madman is recorded in Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:26-39.
I love the way Jesus responds to this man. Everyone else responds with fear or brutality, but Jesus approaches and asks the man his name. “Tell me your story,” Jesus asks the man. For me, this has been a significant teaching in dealing with people. Sometimes the most Christ-like thing you can do for another person is to listen to their story.
But there are two other reasons why this story is significant for me. First, Jesus has always been very real to me. There has never been a time in my life when I questioned His existence. That’s been God’s gift to me. I love to study the Bible; I love to pray. If I could, I would spend all of my time reading and studying and thinking about Jesus. Like the Gerasene Demoniac, I would love to get in the boat and sail away with Jesus. But He won’t let me.
And second, He sends me back to my people—my family—to tell them what Jesus has done for me. I have always understood myself as a child of the church. I love the local church. I believe if God does anything significant in people’s lives—anything transformative in the world—He will do it through the local church. The church is the body of Christ, and it is through us, primarily, that God has chosen to work in the world.
So, I still love my times with Jesus, but I will always come back to the church. I know who I am. I know what I am called to do. This passage frames my life. The words give my life focus and clarity. There is an intensity and urgency to this passage; that’s why it defines me so well. That’s why I find a sense of healing and hope every time I read it.
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