I found a blog post that I loved today. (I’m a devoted blog reader, in case you were wondering... Ok, devoted is an understatement. Obsessed.) This one is written on the blog, “The Secret Life of a Minister’s Wife.” At first I just skimmed through it, not giving it a whole lot of thought, but then a couple phrases really stood out, and I re-read the entire thing. Twice. Ok, maybe three times. It’s so radical, but yet so simple. I’ll italicize some of my favorite parts:
“In an age of pious rank and social inequality Christ walked the earth ignoring every predisposition of the educated elite or spiritual giant of the time. He looked deep inside the hearts of humankind and challenged the status quo to create an equilibrium never witnessed since the Garden of Eden.
Regardless of family genealogies, regardless of gender, regardless of academic status, regardless of rank, ethnicity, occupation, disability or socioeconomic status Christ came to love and to serve and to save all…equally; our one true equal opportunity Savior.
Ignoring the self-imposed and self-inflicted laws of humankind, Christ came to adjust our thinking to a deeper thought pattern and understanding pointing to our hearts. No longer would the priest or law-keeper judge our actions. Rather our heart, our motive, would be our judge.
“You're familiar with the command to the ancients, 'Do not murder.' I'm telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder.”
“You know the next commandment pretty well, too: 'Don't go to bed with another's spouse.' But don't think you've preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt.”
“You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves.”
~Selections from The Message, Matthew 5.
In an age of political warfare regarding the practices and promises of earth, Christ is here waiting for us to wake up to what is real. In an age of a separating gap between wealth and poverty, Christ is waiting for us to take note of the growing margin of inequality in the world. Will we notice or will we comfortably ignore that is “other” than us?
Will we pat ourselves on the back for our righteous church attendance as we drive past the scoundrels on the street wishing them a speedy trip to prison for wearing black and questionable piercings?
We will radically and rebelliously change what was for what needs to be for the sake of the “other” and for the call of Christ?
Don’t tell me of your traditions. Don’t talk to me about your laws. Share with me your love for people. Share with me what you are willing to do so that Christ reaches the “other”. Share with me the equality that you attempt to create to reach the “other”.
Don’t tell me of your comfort level or the bubble you live within. Don’t talk to me about a dying church when a giant thriving body grows down the street. What are we doing? Do we wait to die in order to serve the dying or do we radically and rebelliously change what is for what could be?
Don’t accuse Christ of working on the Sabbath. Watch Him thrive and save the “other” in his rebellious and radical way. Watch Him elevate the sinner, welcome the woman, and kiss the children. Watch Him scorn the politician, the rich and the pious.
Until we look at the heart of people, until we walk away from our comfort, until we greet the “other” right where they are, whether in a bar, the street, the mall, or the back pew, we ignore the great equilibrium that Christ intended for the church.
The church is not a locked building where only one demographic is allowed. When you ignore what clothes us, this withering human flesh, all that remains within us looks the same. The heart within you is what Christ sees; not your color, not your job, not your political affiliation or national residence, not your age, not your gender, not your bank account, not even your faith denomination. He sees you. He sees your hate, your love, your lust, your faith, your commitment…your motive. He sees you.
Limiting His work to our knowledge is futile. He is beyond our wildest limitations.
Rebel Savior, save us. Save us from ourselves.”
Ok, so I practically could have italicized the whole second half of the blog entry. I loved this. It went along very well with my Bible reading today too, which is why I think it struck such a nerve. I was reading in Matthew with our church’s reading program,
The Faith of a Gentile Woman
21 Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.”
23 But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.”
24 Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”
25 But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”
26 Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”
27 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.”
28 “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.
This Gentile woman, is to be understood as a pagan woman. She and her people rejected God and his ways. That’s probably why the disciples wanted her outta there. She was being a pest. But... but... despite all odds, she realizes the power in Jesus. She’s probably been hearing about all the miraculous stuff he’s doing.
So, then in verse 23, Jesus ignores her. And even in verse 24, it’s like he’s saying she’s not part of the elite club. She’s a Gentile and Jesus was letting her know that he only came to save the Jews. WHAT?! I was so confused by this. I kinda thought it was jerk-ish for Jesus to behave in this way, but fortunately the passage goes on... (and fortunately, I remember that Jesus is perfect... he usually has a method to his madness...)
Jesus was testing this woman. He wanted to know if she truly believed that he was the Savior for all. Not just the Jews. Not just the rich. Not just the people who looked like him, acted like him, smelled like him... I donno.
And guess what. This lady passed the test. She truly believed that Jesus came to save everyone.
I don’t know if I even believe that some days. I mean, I know that he did. But, I sure don’t act like it. I don’t try to share the love of Christ with everyone.
Someone new comes into the church, and I size them up as to whether or not I want to invite them into our homegroup. I mean, they might not fit in. And I don’t know if I can deal with that.
"Until we look at the heart of people, until we walk away from our comfort, until we greet the “other” right where they are, whether in a bar, the street, the mall, or the back pew, we ignore the great equilibrium that Christ intended for the church."
Pretty sure God doesn’t care what I can and can’t “deal with.”