Don’t step over Jesus for your justice
While most of our society is secular today, or adheres to the US National Religion of Patriotism, I can safely say that I live in a Catholic city, filled with reflections of this French, plus Spanish (Spain & Central America), Italian, plus Irish, German, etc waves of immigrants that descended upon New Orleans. It is reflected everywhere – 50+% of kids still go to Catholic schools (27 Catholic High Schools, etc). The football team is known as “The Saints” for the number of statues of saints everywhere in the city – most on the planet. The orders yet in 2014 run most of the mission/ministry to the poor, aged, handicap, and yes, schools. many of these people lead lives that reflect God’s high place in their lives.
I am also blessed with many evangelical and mainline friends. They have a love for God also.
Now, these two (or three, depending upon with whom you speak) sects (many would not be comfortable with that term, but sociologically, that is what our religious camps/denominations/convictions make us, where ever we land) have not gotten along since the reformation. Today, admittedly, there is more good will than every before in history… thank God. Yet, it still divides, and a lot of energy is spent on disparaging the other… Evangelicals versus main line, and evangelicals vs Catholics (mostly).
There are many arguments to critique the other. Some are ill informed, failure to really understand, or take the time to understand… easier to quote a celebrity is his ax to grind, because he is “an expert” by virtue of celebrity status, right? Some has merit in critique… but we usually see it as the critique we have on “them”, and we never do get honest enough to say that we don’t have it all figured out and we don’t stop and re-analyze (presuming we ever did analyze to begin with) our presumed accepted positions, making suppositions dogma. Be it a Calvinist or Arminius position on security of salvation & election, or the legitimacy of saints and asking them to pray intercede for us, or praying one time specific words are what saves you versus reflected in a repented direction of life, or dare I even say the Eucharist (communion) – there are issues of disagreement.
I have three responses…to all my friends who spend energy on this.
1. We live in glass houses and should self examine our own doctrines first. Does a junior high emotional moment and no signs of salvation for decades really save us? Were we ever saved to begin with, or too late a night, mood lighting, emotionally manipulated story in the sermon and too much pizza to blame for those tears so long ago? Or for our liturgical friends, if you miss a holy day of obligation (I am for attending worship as faith communities and even agree with important calendar days being a high importance!) is it a sin?
2. When the world is fast going to hell – FAST – and the west leading the way… when we’re no longer influencing culture, but to be honest, it influences us more, do we need, should we be arguing amongst ourselves? Isn’t there enough demonic enemy to keep us quite occupied sacrificing for others, loving recklessly, to avoid all of that? To be honest, there is a lot of Enlightenment philosophy driving our split within the church – not just theology. By the way, the Enlightenment is no more from God than democracy or capitalism, or socialism… all have pro’s and cons and reflect cultural mores more than Biblical ones and both can be plied in Godly or hellish ways.
3. My friend, Christ McKenzie, who is a pastor in Glasgow, at Mosaic Glasgow recently spoke on following Christ. He spoke from the text found in Luke 9, when Jesus “set his face towards Jerusalem” – His last trip culminating in His propitiation for sin through the cross & His resurrection. During this trip, he went through Samaria, instead of around it. Here is the section that caught my attention:
51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. 53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set towards Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”[e] 55 But he turned and rebuked them.[f] 56 And they went on to another village.
Jesus, the iconoclast, blew apart our human walls. Samaritans, half breeds, Jewish faith gone wrong, a sect in an ugly slant from the Orthodox Jewish perspective. Remember, Jesus was a Rabbi, his disciples good Jews… He not only when through there multiple times, but spoke to a Samaritan woman, saw her village come to faith through her, and used them in positive spot light in parables (ugh hmm, the Good Samaritan?). Here, He goes through there…. The disciples want to unleash their newly given promotion with powers… and drawing on History when a prophet smote a Samaritan King, they thought they’d be religiously zealous and do one for God… 🙂 Somethings in the Middle East just don’t change, do they!?! 🙂
Jesus’ response was amazing – He rebukes them! Here is where Chris had such great insight! He rebukes them and makes the new covenant real in practical ways! Grace, love, inclusion, acceptance, blessings… the power of God’s love woos people, not angry dogmatic debates! They wanted to step over Jesus and execute judgment for their heresies… these wayward Jews the Samaritans, with their incorrect theology and allegiances. Jesus rebukes them and has for the past several years blessed them over and over.
Now back to our situation… May we stop stepping over Jesus to be right, to win the theological argument, to feel better about ourselves. May we become those who practice the New Covenant in practical ways – blessing each other, supporting each other, loving each other. Gang, when we get there, I am sure we will all have some theologies fallacies that get explained to us! Let’s major on the majors, and minor the minors and start being united… not united as in the United States disunited congress, but in the Biblical unity and love we are to be known for. Let’s focus on the evils in the world – from war to poverty, from injustice to oppression, from moral sin to sin of consumerism, materialism and self indulgence, from the 90+% of the church who does NOT have a Biblical world view on why we are even here!
I’ve come to appreciate swimming in all these waters, to use the euphemism of Richard Foster… I love the intimate worship of the low liturgy contemporary churches, the passion in praying of the Charismatics, the love of the Word of the Evangelicals, the mystery and awesomeness of God in the Catholic Mass. I love to pray from the heart and the written ancient prayers through through and written long ago to guide me when I am so tied up I can’t find the words myself. AND big secret… I know people in all camps – they all sincerely love Christ and want to follow Him correctly. Maybe we can learn from each other and stop being afraid we’ll get coodies…
Okay, enough for a Friday… Coming soon… the reality that Jesus hung out with the who[re]s and pimps, the thieves and the collaborators, the trash and villans… not the religious.. and we’re supposed to imitate Him and be light into the darkness…salt, ambassadors… Hmmm. I’ll save it.