What Does Jesus Have to Do With It?: a Reflection on Psalm 42, Isaiah 46:1-13, Ephesians 6:10-24, an
I often muse over the difference of being a pastor in 1982 and 2015. I still answer the ordination questions with the appropriate “I do,” “I will,” and “I do and I will.” People are people; meetings are meetings; frustrations are frustrations; joys are joys; real life messes are real life messes; and long hours are long hours.
But, the state, society, and culture are no longer friends of the church. They no longer provide crutches for the church’s existence. And I like that.
As difficult as it is to be church, it is not only right, but it is liberating. In this post-Christendom environment, I’m actually becoming reacquainted with Jesus.
Five years ago or so, Diana Butler Bass coined the phrase, “Remembering, telling and living the way of Jesus.” Brilliant, I must say.
It is time for the church to become reacquainted with Jesus and leave the crutches behind.
What does Jesus have to do with it? When I read “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my heart longs for you, O God” in Psalm 42, I paused. Oh how my soul more often than not has yearned for more butts in the pews, more pledge units and better programs.
What does Jesus have to do with it? With the prophet Isaiah, I have to admit that I became far too easily pleased with the crutches of slick programs and the merging of Republican politics with the Evangelical tradition. Shame on me for buying the lie. I am grateful for the “fall” I experienced in 2010. “God rescued me,” as a new friend reminded me this past July.
What does Jesus have to do with it? The real life struggles have already been dealt with by Jesus. He’s been there and done that on our behalf. There is an evil, or principality and darkness, lurking in the church that causes well-meaning pastors and lay leaders to believe the church and its success is “about them.” The truth, righteousness, gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the word of God (living and written) say otherwise.
What does Jesus have to do with it? Like the man with an unclean spirit, we don’t really want Jesus addressing us, challenging us, tough-loving us, or for that matter doing anything but telling us we’re awesome.
I’ve begun my fifth year now trying to be about remembering, telling, and living the way of Jesus. I often stumble and fall back into old routines. But, I am much more aware and hands on that the marginalized need to experience Jesus not the church’s rules and those being discriminated against need to see Jesus walking with them in the picket lines as well as being their voice in the halls of power. The more the church is about remembering, telling, and living the way of Jesus, the more it will be visibly giving itself away for the sake of others and not perpetuating its “club.”
Scripture readings are taken from the two-year daily lectionary cycle which follows the liturgical calendar and begins on the First Sunday of Advent.