• Steven Marsh

Anti-Charm: a Reflection on Psalm 116, Deuteronomy 7:17-26, Titus 3:1-15, and John 1:43-51

“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” The “charm” of Jesus didn’t last long. No length of stay in charm school would have helped. Jesus wasn’t a hooligan during adolescents. He minded his p’s and q’s for the most part. He, unlike the rest of humanity, wasn’t a sinner, but I imagine he presented challenges to his parents while growing up.

But Jesus did speak his mind…challenge the religious status quo…and loved the unlovable.

God promised the people of God that their enemies, the “them” would not be victorious. God told the people not to fear them.

Fear is a curious thing. The people of God with the covenant made to and with Abraham were to take no prisoners. They were to occupy and establish themselves in the land. Whatever those prescribed boundaries were, no foreigner was to be in their midst. It was from that place then, the people of God were to become a blessing to all peoples. Not a people growth strategy that exuded charm.

It is clear that from the behavior of the people of God then and the subsequent years of frustrating history of those people, place and enemy have continued to be a mainstay of discussion. Now, the definition of the people of God has no boundary or place, yet, fear seems still to be a mark of our brand. Fear based living is not attractive.

Paul strongly warns that after giving a first and then second admonition to one who is all about division, followers of Jesus need to have nothing to do with that person. Once again, that perspective and positioning would receive a failing grade in charm school.

Fear is an improper motivator. Politeness and etiquette do have their place. But, charm that is not rooted in speaking the mind of Christ, challenging conventional religion, and not loving the unlovable is unacceptable.

As I ponder my own life and ministry, I can cite many examples of when I was doing what I believed were what Jesus did and would do and the backlash was clearly an “F” in charm.

In n a recent Economist, Rahm Emanuel is referred to as the “Anti-Charm Mayor.” Yet, something for the better is happening in Chicago.

I’m encouraged. Jesus was an anti-charm leader as well. Popularity is often the end to effective leadership.

Scripture Readings are taken from the two-year daily lectionary cycle which follows the liturgical calendar and begins on the First Sunday of Advent.

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