In the movie “Outlaw Josey Wales,” the star of the movie, Clint Eastwood, had this famous line, “A man has to know his limitations.” We all have our limits. Each of us has a limit. They are all different, but we all have them. Sometimes we might be surprised by them, in ourselves or others, but we all have our limits. God does not have limits in the same way that we humans have limits.
Again, we all have our limits, of course, but do we recognize what those limits are? Do we also have the tendency, like non-believers, to be conditional in our acceptance of God? Will we accept God’s words from one person but refuse to accept them from another? Will we happily agree to do one job within the church or outside the church, but refuse to do another? Are we picky about what we believe God can help us with and what He cannot?
Do you see that we who are limited, serve a God who has no limits? God’s influence in our lives can be limited by what we believe about Him. When we follow Jesus, he will lead us beyond our comfort zone. These limits not only apply to situations, but they also apply to people. There are certain kinds of people we feel less comfortable with than others. When we are separated from people by language, culture, or race, we can sometimes feel uncomfortable, out of our comfort zone. Whether we like this fact or not, it is true that we’re more comfortable being with people who are like us and less comfortable being in situations with people less like us.
Jesus dealt with some extremely limited people when He was here on earth. They were the Jews and Gentiles (non-Jewish).
The Jewish people of Jesus’ day saw a huge boundary between Jewish people and non-Jewish people. Jewish people viewed non-Jewish people as unclean, polluted by false gods, and sinful behavior, “Gentiles” (anyone who was not a Jew). In fact, many of the Jewish people hated the non-Jews (Gentiles) as much as the non-Jewish (Gentiles) people hated the Jews. It was mutual anger, a mutual hatred that often bubbled up in violence.
Jesus was Jewish. He was born into a Jewish family, a descendant of the ancient King David, from the tribe of Judah, a descendant of Abraham, the Father of the Jewish people. He grew up and was taught to observe these boundary markers that maintained the Jewish people’s uniqueness.
But when Jesus began his ministry, he questioned and challenged many of the traditional ways of understanding what it meant to be part of the people of God. For Jesus, being the people of God wasn’t about keeping the boundaries of religion.
He knew that His life and death would place NO limitations on who could be saved by His upcoming death on the cross. If you think following Jesus is the best way to play it safe, you’re mistaken. If you think being a Christian is only being around those you know and are comfortable with you have missed it. Following Jesus means going where Jesus leads you, and sometimes he leads us to places that are frighteningly out of our comfort zone.
In a scene from one of the C. S. Lewis books, The Chronicles of Narnia, the Christ figure in these stories is a lion named Aslan, and when the children in the story first hear about Aslan, they’re afraid. They ask, “Is he safe?” The person telling them about the lion laughs, and says, “Safe? Of course, he’s not safe. He’s a lion. But he’s good. He’s the Lord.”
Knowing Jesus is good is not enough. We must have a love for all people. Jesus called this compassion. Compassion means allowing our hearts to be open, taking the risk of being hurt, of being disappointed. Compassion means allowing ourselves to feel the trouble of others, placing ourselves in their shoes. Compassion is dangerous, because if you open your heart, you may get hurt. You may be wounded. You may be disappointed. You may be taken advantage of. If being a Christian is being a follower of Jesus, then you can expect that Jesus will lead you to the kinds of places that are out of your limits.
Matthew 28:18-20, And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in Heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Jesus is saying He is not limited when He says, “All authority has been given to Me.” Jesus will lead you beyond your limits. Following him will stretch you beyond your comfort and place you in situations that require the compassion of Christ. However, we have His promise of, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” If you are not being stretched out of your comfort zone and opening your heart with compassion, it’s a time to look at the love of Jesus you have for others.,
Are you ready to give your limits to Jesus? Are you ready to go and love those as Jesus commanded?
Go to Romans Road to Salvation and/or Prayer of Rededication