Monday, December 22, 2014

Do you know my Jesus? Are you sure? Then that may be a problem.

We know Jesus.  Right?  I do, don't you?  He's a super nice man who watches us all the time, loves us, loves kids the most, and wants to hear what we want and desire.  Wait, that's Santa Claus, never mind...  
But seriously, do we really think we Know Jesus?  Because... I find that a little scary.  And presumptuous.  What I THINK many of Us are guilty of is humanizing God to the point that we do, in fact, believe we know him.  Know how he thinks, why he does or doesn't do things, who he would save and who he wouldn't, what he would like and what he wouldn't, and (my personal favorite) which sins are his top 5.
We believe that we know him.  We have studied scripture, we talk to him everyday, we have gone to school for it, some people even had degrees in knowing God.
You know who else knew God?  Who else had studied scripture, memorized scripture, talked to God daily, went to school to learn about him?  The Pharisees.  And it was because they knew God so intimately, understood him so perfectly, that they didn't recognize him when he was right in front of their faces.
See, Anyone who says they would love to have Jesus physically show up and walk around the earth again, to somehow validate what they're doing, or even hint at the notion that they'd be 100% comfortable with that aren't absorbing what they're reading in the Gospels. 
Jesus was brash, he was shocking, he was NOTHING like the religious people expected, and it was the religious people who, therefore, couldn't accept him. Who were the religious people of that day? His people. God's people. What makes us think we'd be anymore comfortable at his shocking and demanding presence than they were?
Part of our problem is the exact same problem they had 2,000 years ago: we've gotten to the point where we truly believe we Know 'what Jesus would do'. I think most of us would be quite surprised. The religious of the day had God in a box, they had him defined.
They had him wrapped up, nice and neat. They had him all figured out.
("My thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways.
for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts"

Consider this:
Do you think for a minute that we would take an adulterer who never stopped chasing skirts all the way to his very death bed as our preacher (David)? 

Do you think we would invite a convicted murderer who spoke with a lisp to be our guest speaker (Moses)? 

Do you think we would take a bar room brawler who never wrote down his sermon and therefore ALWAYS spoke first and thought second (Peter)? 

What about this one:

Do you think if a former Lieutenant from Osama Bin Laden's inner circle showed up at our church a week after his last terrorist attack on a group of Christians saying he had suddenly "Seen the light" that we would even let him through the doors - and listen to a word he said, let alone give him full access to our families (Paul)?

I don't think I would.  And that's why I might miss him.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A War on Christmas?

If you turn on the news, read a newspaper, even listen to many sermons these days, you will inevitably hear about this "War on Christmas".

The idea is that school shootings, the fall of the economy, bad presidents (whichever ones you dub that way), unemployment, divorce, and faltering church attendance can all be attributed to our nations respect and preservation of "CHRISTmas".  That without our labeling December as "The Christmas Season", and without our schools allowing formal corporate prayer time, we can force God out.  We can force him to abandon our schools, our marriages, our churches, and our Country.

Now, don't hear me wrong, I would love the whole country to embrace Christmas, but we haven't done that in nearly a hundred years (what?  You thought our buying our kids great presents, hanging shiny Christmas lights on our houses, and getting all dressed up for Christmas church service was about Jesus?  Seriously?)
I do, I wish EVERYTHING revolved around Christ, if it REALLY revolved around Christ.  But having a government that mandates Christianity as the 'official' religion doesn't make us better Christians, in fact, I would argue that it makes us Worse Christians (see ANY example of how the church thrives under martial law and persecution vs. how it dies an apathetic death in the presence of sanctioned religious freedom).

You see:

When Jesus walked the Earth, the Roman Empire did not endorse him (his own people didn't even endorse him),  And yet, Somehow, he was still the son of God and still able to be raised from the dead on the third day anyway.

The first century Christians did not have national holidays set up on their behalf and yet, remarkably, they still were able to perform miracles, pen letters that survived thousands of years, and grow the Church.

For centuries (and in Many places to this very day) Christianity wasn't protected, at best, and violently outlawed, at worst, and yet God still managed to be... God.
God does not need the empire (not the Roman nor the United States) to formally recognize him in order to be God.

God does not need government to give him the nod of approval in order for him to show up and do his God thing.

God does not need a School to call 'winter break' 'Christmas' break in order to be able to still be God.

If a "war on Christmas" (aka: people saying 'happy holidays') is all it takes to remove God's ability to show up in our homes, our schools, and our nation, then we are wasting our lives and worshiping the wrong God.