The more I learn, the more I realize I don't know much at all. There are so many questions I have that I will spend the rest of my life trying to answer and maybe never ever scratch the surface of the answer. Depending on the day, sometimes I am ok with that reality and other times I am not. Most days, amidst the confusion and conflict, I try and focus on what I do know. I know I can feel beauty and pain at the same time. I know I want to really feel. I know I want to bring justice where there is injustice. I know I want to spend my life discovering what it means to be a faithful participant in the people of God. More than just lip service to what we think we know of God; and more than just myself. Although I recognize I don't know much, I do know that it is so not about me. As American Christians, we like to sing and say that it isn't about us, but our lives proclaim a different song. When the apostle Paul writes, "To live is Christ and to die is gain," we aren't really sure what to do with that. When Jesus says, "the greatest love is to lay down your life," we dismiss it as sweet. When John the Baptist says, "I must decrease so that He can increase," we aren't really sure what that looks like in real life. Why is it that Paul says, "when I am weak, then I am strong."
What is it that we are missing out on by not putting ourselves fully to death. Why do we make exuses as Christians? "Yes. I love Jesus. But this is just me; this is just a part of who I am, my DNA." What a load. Yes. You were born into heavy *%$#. But Jesus calls, BE BORN AGAIN. We are promised transformation if we allow all that we are to be renewed. All that we are.
Jesus took all that the world knew and stood it on it's head. He changed everything. He died and was resurrected. Before He departed He charged us. We are to bear witness to the world and announce His resurrection. God relaunched His salvation efforts. Israel was no longer to be the keeper. Jesus fulfilled perfectly what Israel couldn't quite do or be. With each new generation, it is our job, call and vocation to continue on in the project God relaunched 2,000 years ago. But instead we find ourselves too busy caught up in our own individualism that pervaids us and somehow we never make it past ourselves. Our personal salvation, as indivduals, are only a part of the story; not the whole story.
In the 4th chapter of Luke's gospel story we see the narrative of Jesus healing Peter's mother in law. I love this story! She was sick with a fever. Jesus healed her and immediately she got up and started serving Him. When was it that Jesus healed you? When was it that Jesus first empowered you to get up and start serving Him? Or are you still in bed complaining about how the fever isn't all the way gone? Or are you praying that the fever will stay away and not attack you again? Or have you gotten up and started serving Him? How is it that we serve Him you might ask? Jesus Himself said that when we serve the sick, hungry, poor and imprisoned, that we are indeed serving Him (Matt 25). Most of us love to take the Bible pretty literarlly, except when we read stuff like that.
Is it possible to serve people just because we love them? Is it possible to die so that others can live? Is it possible to be weak so that we can testify to His strength in us? Is it possible to go without so others don't have to? Is it possible to live with 4 coats instead of 5 so that someone can be warm? Is it possible to buy an extra bag of groceries so a neighbor can eat a bit better? Is it possible to invite a gay couple for dinner to enact healing and hope as you share a meal? Is it possible to sit down with a homeless person and hear their story? Is it possible that standing for Jesus doesn't involve protest signs or petitions but might be as simple as meeting a need in His name? Is it possible that when speaking of our beautiful Jesus, that being a Christ-follower has more to offer people than just a way of escaping "hell?" Is it possible that it might be our job to bring the Kingdom of God NOW, rather than it just being this future reality. I think it is possible. The famous prophet Isaiah writes that the wolf will eat with the lamb and that the leopard will lay with the goat and that the calf and lion will live together (Isa 11). It is possible to live in a "righted" world. God says we will. But we don't have to wait for it. We have been empowered to announce it and to enact it.
Give it up; hand it over; lay it down.
Let's do it. More than lip service to it. More than just an exciting conversation about it. Live it, be it, embody it. And take lots of peeps with you.