Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Nobody said it would be easy

“I asked participants who claimed to be "strong followers of Jesus" whether Jesus spent time with the poor. Nearly 80 percent said yes. Later in the survey, I sneaked in another question, I asked this same group of strong followers whether they spent time wit the poor, and less than 2 percent said they did. I learned a powerful lesson: We can admire and worship Jesus without doing what he did. We can applaud what he preached and stood for without caring about the same things. We can adore his cross without taking up ours. I had come to see that the great tragedy of the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor.”

Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical 

Another quote from him is also somewhat harsh on the church, but I think he is right again when he writes;
“We do need to be born again, since Jesus said that to a guy named Nicodemus. But if you tell me I have to be born again to enter the Kingdom of God, I can tell you that you have to sell everything you have and give it to the poor, because Jesus said that to one guy, too. But I guess that's why God invented highlighers, so we can highlight the parts we like and ignore the rest.”  

As I read this, I was reminded of a similar incident I had encountered some time ago. I spoke of the necessity to dine with people we have little if anything in common with, besides perhaps both being made in the image of God. That certainly would include as I pointed out in my sermon, prostitutes, people at the very outskirt of our society today whoever that might be. What was shocking to me then and even today was that a former pastor approached me and with an irritated voice asked; Do you actually mean that we should eat with prostitutes?  If the church has no modern examples to follow, we will end up more bewildered, disoriented, and perplexed about the life of Jesus than the Pharisees were. We, the church, will not only be unclear about the message and its consequences here and now  but the people who are listening and watching will end up unsure and confused because our lives do not line up, neither with the words nor with the life of Jesus.

The longer I read God's word, the more I am convinced that none of it is written to make us feel good about ourselves, but rather to force us to look into the mirror and by God's grace to find the reflection of Jesus. God's word is not intended to be used as a pacifier for our souls but should lead us to face the cross, to take up our cross and make us feel good about God.
And so, let us not judge the world but perhaps let us be a bit tougher on ourselves; How does my/our lives reflect the cross we bear?

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