Monday, August 19, 2013

Fool for Christ or Just Plain Fool?

An Inkling
Years ago I had a visitor in the church I served in Louisiana.  I was busy doing something religious, when in walked a fiftyish woman in jeans and a tee shirt.  I thought she was a transient and asked if I could help her.  Much to my surprise, she asked not for food or money, but paper!  She said, “I am a missionary telling people about the Holy Spirit, and I need some paper to make fliers.”  I didn’t know what to make of her, so I got her some paper.  She thanked me, gave me her card, and headed off with her satchel on a little cart.  Her card, made with a rubber stamp, said:  “TRUTH FOR CHRIST ANGLICAN MISSIONARY EVANGELISM GOOD SAMARITAN PEACE CORP.  What is your truth?  Your truth for Christ today.  MARY ELIZABETH GODWIN, Missionary Worker, Halifax, Nova Scotia.”
She reminded me of another woman I had not thought of in years.  “Peace Pilgrim” was stenciled on her sweatshirt.  She said that God called her to travel around and call for peace in Vietnam.  All she had were the clothes on her back and a small satchel.  She walked until someone offered her lodging, and fasted until someone offered her food.
Are such folks fools for Christ or just plain fools?  It’s hard to say, especially when you consider some of the characters in the Bible.  Jeremiah wore yoke bars rather than a sport coat.  Ezekiel carted his suitcase all around and skipped his wife’s funeral.  John the Baptist lived in the boonies and ate bugs.  Even Jesus would have a hard time registering to vote, having no regular mailing address. 
No one can accuse us of being weirdoes.  No sir!  We are respectable.  We’ve got good manners.  We’ve got class.  We’re foolproof.  God is surely proud to have such accomplished children. 
Of course, unlike Mary Elizabeth Godwin and Peace Pilgrim, it’s hard for us fully to understand a Savior who had no place to lay his head.  And when we read Paul’s words about the gospel being a scandal, we just shake our heads in wonder. 
Someone said, “Wherever Paul went there was a riot.  Wherever I go they serve tea.”  Alas.
No foolin’?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Jesus is Lord - Specifically!

An Inkling
It’s our most basic affirmation of faith:  Jesus is Lord.  If you’re a Christian, you’ve said it in some fashion.
Here’s what’s usually in our heads when we say it:  Jesus is Lord of all the world, he will guide how the big story works out, and I want to serve him as he does.
Here’s what’s NOT usually in our heads when we say it:  Jesus is Lord of this chaotic mess that I’m in right now, he will guide how this specific story works out, and I want to serve him as he does.
It’s ironic.  We assume the Lord has the big picture covered.  And yet we operate as if he’s unaware of and uninvolved in the specifics of our everyday lives – and particularly when the chaos factor rises – be it health, work, family, finance (choose one or more!).  We’re so busy trying to gain some lordship over the chaos ourselves that we lose sight of who is in fact Lord.
And so I’ve started consciously stating my belief in his Lordship in specific and chaotic situations.  For example, “Jesus is Lord of this emergency room trip.”  “Jesus is Lord of this financial mess.”  “Jesus is Lord of…”  And he is!
Which means I can go back to my role – serving him as he carries out his role.  I can trust that he will get it right.  What a relief!
Jesus is Lord – specifically!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What If They Find Out?

An Inkling
The big debate of the summer was launched by Ed Snowden, when he revealed the extent of the NSA’s surveillance.  Some support such surveillance, since it helps prevent terror attacks.  Others oppose it because it gives the government too much power over us – power which may be misused.  Logical reasons can be cited for both.
Such logic may provide the light for this debate, but its heat rises from elsewhere – our fears of being found out.  What if they learn things about me that I don’t want anyone to know?  What if my carefully crafted image is revealed to be a fa├žade?  What if I’m known as I am?  Such fears run very deep.
Emergency bulletin:  it’s too late.  You’re known.  Already.  Completely.  Mr. Snowden is a mere piker in pulling back such veils.  The scripture has long since laid that one bare.  Here’s but one example:  No creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Heb. 4:13). 
Debates about the limits of government power are always in order.  We engage in such debates with greater wisdom when we’re not driven by our fears of being found out.  It works the same with our relationships.  Once we are comfortable being known as we are, the relational contortions driven by fear begin to fade.
And what’s beyond debate is the great good news that the very One who knows us fully loves us deeply – as we really are.  Indeed the verse above from Hebrews is surrounded by long descriptions of the forgiveness we have through Jesus Christ for the very things we had hoped to keep hidden.  And from such does true freedom come!
Here’s looking at you (and loving you!)…