Friday, October 15, 2010

Thinking with my mouth open...and fingers moving.

So we are stateside again. Sorry for not checking in sooner. It's been a strange month of readjusting and change. And while change can often times be very good, it remains to be hard. So we are adjusting and reentering a culture that is so different from what we experienced in Africa. And my mind is reeling with convictions and concerns and ideas of the imagination that will only lead me to trouble with many. And yet the gifting that the Spirit has bestowed upon me compels me to speak and share, yet my heart would crumble at the thought of disparaging the beautiful Bride. And so I wonder and pray of where to start, hoping that words of exhortation would move some to action of some form.

Jesus said to His followers, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. Those were his parting thoughts, laying out the vision and expectation of the Church. What is the Church to do from here on out?

Be His witnesses. Speak up, testify as to who Jesus is, give evidence of His power.

Be like Him.

The problem is, most of the time, this is reduced to just becoming better people, good people who live with superior standards of morals. They have attained righteousness because they don't drink alcohol, don't smoke, don't cuss, pay their bills on time, are responsible citizens, and are just generally much nicer people.

But I must confess that I have met a lot of really nice people who don't know a thing about Jesus, much less love Him. But they were really nice people and, should they come to confess Jesus, would fit very nicely into most churches that I know.

There are also many who I know who I would never guess are followers of Jesus until I see them at a Sunday morning church service with arms raised in emotional rapture. Where was that emotional rapture a few days ago as they looked down on the homeless person begging on the corner?

If we are called to be set apart, then why do we blend so well? Is my heart so set apart that others would know I am different, that I follow a different Way? Or do I try to blend, go with the flow, not make waves? Do I do what I do because this is how we've always done it so it must be the way it is done? But then, there is the Way, and it's different, radical, set apart, and I am drawn to it.

Here's one of the things that I love about Jesus: He put legs on words that He taught. He didn't just sit around, week after week, meeting with His small group to discuss the ins and outs of the teachings of the Prophets. He was a man of action. When he taught that we are to feed the hungry, He broke bread and fed 5,000. When He taught that we are visit the sick, He raised one from the dead. When He taught that we are to care for the orphans and widows, He reprimanded his disciples as He gathered the littles one unto Himself. When He taught that we are to messengers of compassion, and mercy, He stood up for the adulteress. When He taught that we are to give water to the thirsty, He quenched the thirst of a Samaritan woman who had searched for a lifetime. When He taught us to turn the other cheek, He donned a crown of thorns and laid bare His back for 40 lashes. When He taught us that it is better to give than it is to receive, He gave His life for the salvation of the world.

In the quiet places of my heart, there is a stirring that disturbs the hush. There is a rumble that begs for more. There is an uneasiness that is sure it has missed something.

Isn't there more to this life than going through the motions of Church and becoming a really nice person? What do we do with passages like Matthew 25, where are told very clearly that honoring Jesus means feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, providing housing for the stranger, and clothes for the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned? He did not mince words when He said, "Away from me! I never knew you."

Those words haunt me as I seek Him out.

You know me, right? Am I walking in obedience to you?

And so my heart wonders and imagines. What if we got crazy radical with this obedience to Him?

Oh, mercy, I'm just getting warmed up.

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