Saturday, May 26, 2012

I Need Saving

I think there is a difference between being a Christian and following Jesus.
I think this is what we need saving from.
Check out Jesus' famous Sermon on the Mountain out of the NLT:

The Beatitudes, Luke 6:20-26

20 Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said,

“God blesses you who are poor,
    for the Kingdom of God is yours.
21 God blesses you who are hungry now,
    for you will be satisfied.
God blesses you who weep now,
    for in due time you will laugh.

22 What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. 23 When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way.

24 “What sorrow awaits you who are rich,
    for you have your only happiness now.
25 What sorrow awaits you who are fat and prosperous now,
    for a time of awful hunger awaits you.
What sorrow awaits you who laugh now,
    for your laughing will turn to mourning and sorrow.
26 What sorrow awaits you who are praised by the crowds,
    for their ancestors also praised false prophets.

I used to think I had it all figured out. I was rich with Christianity 'approved' dogma, theology and rhetoric. Like a pharisee, I knew it all. All the laws- all the do's and dont's.
And I wielded them like a great sword against people who I knew just weren't good enough for grace. I was rich and my happiness was now. And my kingdom was here on earth- robed in my Sunday best- enthroned at my Christian colleges and preached through the TV and the radio.

I was never hungry for anything. I became swelled with ego, self-assurances reinforced through my Christian books and my Christian friends. At night, if I ever imagined I felt a dull ache deep inside for something more- it was never more than something half-imagined. The hunger was never more than something I couldn't just fill with more take-out Christianese. And so I was never really satisfied, just always eating more.

I laughed and sought good, clean Christianity-approved fun. I never wept because I avoided real pain. (The only real pain that only God could handle.)
And so i never really learned to trust him through it.
And now I pay the price.

Who ever hated me? good Christians are about love.
What did I truly ever suffer that my self-assurance couldn't over come?
Or that my Christian riches couldn't buy out?
Or that my laughter couldn't medicate me for?

Then Jesus showed up.

and for all my knowledge, experience and medicated happiness I had no idea what to do.

When he asks me to follow him- I can barely make out what he's saying.

And as he begins to walk away, expecting me to follow him- I gaze blankly after him- like a sick child or an uncomprehending dog.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I get Christianity.
I just don't really get Jesus.

It's supposed to be upsetting, and if at all possible, avoided to be poor, or hungry or sad.
Especially in America.
We're not supposed to ever be poor, especially if we're a young, educated, white male with a household to provide for.
We are not supposed to be hungry when there's things like welfare and the McDonald's dollar menu ready and waiting for us to devour.
We are not supposed to be sad when we have things like Facebook or Netflix or public libraries with near instantaneous access to amuse us like so much bread and circuses.

We are excellent Christians and poor excuses for 'little Christs'.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they will see God, is what Jesus is saying.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
-Are we?
 Blessed are those who weep, for in a short time they will laugh for joy.

I'm trying to say that maybe there's a very good reason why we are rich and full and happy most of the time.

That's why I think when Jesus says, "if you have seen me, you have seen my Father", he is talking about more than just a correct image of God- He's talking about how if we know Jesus- in his kindness, goodness, love and sacrifice, we have seen God- because he is always doing what his Father is doing. God has been doing these very same things for individuals since before day one... If you've met someone's son, and then you meet their father, you can see traits in their face, their voice- how they treat people and what they hold most dear- if you know the son, you know the father, too. (check out George McDonald's Your Life in Christ- he's the guy who inspired CS Lewis...)
and We are sons of God and brothers with Jesus, too- so we also ought to carry the family resemblance, because we are being created into new creatures daily.

After re-reading the Beatitudes, I realized that for everything I know, believe and can do- in the end, I'm still the one who needs saving. 
 I'm humbled that I never thought I did before. 
I mean, how do I even begin to resemble Jesus-who-is-God in this way?

And now, because I know I am the one who needs saving, I can finally begin living.

I am so poor, because I know intrinsically/it sort of depresses me to think about how much I need God.

I am left hungering after Jesus. Honestly hungering for this Life he is offering. 
(Though still unworthily desiring it for wrong motivations, like feeling I ought to or am obligated to.)

Like the homeless in the streets, I don't have any spiritual money to insure my happiness. 
BUT I'm not held hostage to party lines any more either
- it doesn't matter if I upset people because of religious reasons, it only matters if I try and treat them like Jesus treats people.

That's why its so hard to see God now. It's because we're not seeing Jesus very well. We think 'seeing Jesus' means mission trips, Sunday morning preaching and mid-week ministries. We don’t know what to think or believe or even feel when our churches empty, our youth go their own way and the old mantras don't ring like they used to. And when we are faced with a life which does not facilitate those beliefs…. when in fact, we may just realize that it is us that need saving.

Until we're free to follow only Jesus. 
Until we can show thoughtless kindness.
Until selfless love is second-nature.
Until we value giving more than our dollar bills
Until we look like God our father not in power,
but in brokenness;
-in rich poverty and in satisfying hunger.
Until we are a new creation.
Until the old has gone and the new has come
right into our neighborhoods, our homes 
and our everyday lives.

Until Jesus in our brother and God is our father...
we need saving.


Like what you read? Join in with your own insights, stories and art- send them to Thanks and God bless -Ryan

No comments:

Post a Comment