Dear God, I was having a texting conversation with a friend last night. He is someone I met on a vacation over three years ago, and we have kept in touch through Facebook.
Anyway, we were talking last night and he wanted to know what Jesus would have to say about a lot of the wrongs happening in the world. In this particular case, the thing on his mind was corruption he witnessed firsthand at a food distribution for the the poor. He saw volunteers taking food before the needy were able to go through the line, and it disgusted him. He finally walked away.
So what would Jesus have to say about all of this? My reply to him was to listen to Andy Stanley’s sermon from last Sunday called, “Not it it to win it.” This man isn’t a Christian so I know it was a tall ask. He’s very likely not going to listen to Andy’s sermon, but I’ve listened to it three times this week, and I plan to sit with it and pray through it over the weekend.
The big thing I think Jesus would do right now is rebuke the church. Andy told the story from Luke 9:51-56. Jesus was wanting to stay in Samaria, but the Samaritans didn’t want him and his entourage there. James and John then asked if Jesus wanted them to call down fire from heaven to destroy the Samaritans. Jesus’s response was to rebuke them and press on towards his crucifixion in Jerusalem.
Why do I think Jesus would rebuke the church right now? Because Andy is right. The church has fallen into the worldly trap of wanting to win. We want to win the battle for influence and power. We want the world the yield to our way of thinking. We want to exercise political power and defend it when it starts to slip away. We want our morality to be legislated throughout the earth, and to do that we need more power. To get that power, we need politicians who will do our bidding, whether we believe they are Christians or not. If they say they will support our morality then that’s all we need to know. In chess terminology, if they will give us their queen, they can have most of our chess pieces. Then the world will be the place we want it to me…Oh, I mean you want it to be (sarcasm implied).
What would be included in Jesus’s rebuke? Frankly, I shudder to think of what he might have to say to his church. What he would have to say to me. But I’m pretty sure he would start with something close to the parables he taught about the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is something that starts from the bottom and grows from a grassroots level through love, the receiving of your grace, and then the sharing of your grace with others. There are moral standards in there to be sure. There is a need for asking for forgiveness of you. But these are what we need to do to be free. The kingdom of heaven is also like people who don’t care about their own rights and delight in the progress of others (see the parable of the workers hired at different times of day, but all were paid the same amount). And the kingdom of heaven is like the man who found it and sold everything he had to attain it because it was worth more than all he held on to.
Father, I’m about to go and do a prayer walk around one of our school district’s campuses that includes the high school, the primary school, and the district’s administrative building. Put my head into the right place as I do this. And better prepare me to answer the question, “What would Jesus have to say to this?” I want to always be about pointing others to you. Oh, and forgive me. Forgive us as the church. Help us to turn loose of our quest for power and influence so that our morality might be forced upon people. Help us to turn loose of that idol. Help us to turn loose of the idol of the Supreme Court, the President, the Congress, and any other person we think will do our work for us. Help us to do the work you put in front of us for your glory’s sake and not our own.
In Jesus’s name I pray,