As Americans prepare to celebrate the joy and meaning of Christmas, the Rotary Club of McMinnville invited Central Church of Christ pulpit minister Cody Boston to speak at its weekly meeting about what was so unique about Jesus Christ, his ministry, and his message.
Boston says the reason Jesus was different than the other prophets is because he wanted people to change how they approach the world. Changing how people think will also change how they act, Boston said.
“Jesus said you have been taught that if someone steals you take back, but Jesus says I am telling you to think different. If someone slaps you on the cheek you turn and let them have the other cheek,” said Boston. “If someone asks for your tunic, give them your cloak also. If someone asks you to go with them a mile, why not go two? He wants you to think differently about people. Think differently about God and about Jesus and his mission and his plan and think differently about people, because people matter.”
He continued by saying Jesus also gave a challenge to people to work on daily when he says to love our enemies. It was not what everyone else was saying at the time, so he was telling his followers to think differently. Boston also says we cannot love others if we do not love ourselves first.
“Jesus challenges us to change the way we think and thus live differently,” said Boston. “View people differently than the world tells us to think about them. Put a higher priority on people than maybe what the world does. With that being said, Jesus then goes out and models it.”
The week before Boston’s presentation, the Rotary Club invited Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, a professor at Vanderbilt who is considered one of the foremost scholars of Jewish studies in the nation, to share the Jewish perspective on the nativity.
Boston shared the Christian perspective.
“The idea for having these two programs was to present a perspective on the historical, religious, and cultural perspective on the nativity,” said Rotary Club member Bill Zechman. “That is why we invited Dr. Amy-Jill Levine as the speaker. Now of course, being a practicing faithful Jew, she gave a Jewish perspective. That might be a little controversial, but like I said the intent was to put the nativity in the proper perspective. Today we are going to have a decidedly Christian perspective. Hopefully if we take a look at both of these perspectives it will enlarge and enrich our appreciation and understanding of this miraculous occasion.”
Boston began his presentation by saying that at this time of year, everyone is talking about the birth of Jesus.
“Right now a lot of people are thinking about the birth of Jesus,” said Boston. “It is on a lot of people’s minds and they are having conversations about it. People might not even be religious, but they are talking about Jesus and his birth and you think about that part of the story and you think about his death. And the death on the cross and the empty tomb. You think about the power of the birth and the power of the death, but what about the power of the middle?”
During the time of Jesus, there were many self-anointed prophets who were going around and some people regarded them as miracle workers and sought their healing powers. The Roman government viewed them with suspicion thinking and believed they may start an insurrection. Jesus might have been considered one of those preachers who went from town to town, but he was very different from the others.
Boston says Jesus would teach a lot about repentance, and says a lot of people do not fully understand what it means.
“I think we have a misunderstanding of that word. If you hear it used at your churches where you worship you might think of it as when we sin and mess up we tell God that we are sorry and that we aren’t going to do it again, but that is not really the strength of the word repent,” said Boston.
He says repentance is not just being sorry. He said that before actions can change, the way of thinking must change. Boston says the reason Jesus was different than the other prophets is because he wanted people to change how they thought about things. Changing how people think will also change how they act.