Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Winsome Lord

I met for several hours Thursday night with a man who has begun attending our church, along with his family, within the last three months.  As I listened to him re-living several difficult, hurtful church experiences,  my heart went out to him.  In one case, he had confided some personal, intimate struggles to the pastor, and was horrified to hear his failures work their way into sermon illustrations, complete with his name mentioned.  In another church, the pastor seemed to value his life, but only as long as he was going full-bore, working every Sunday all day as a volunteer in a church and a new mission, to the detriment of his family.

Our church experience shouldn't be so painful, so hurtful, should it? 

Jesus' commands are not like normal commands.  I'm studying for my sermon this Sunday on Biblica Friendship, and the text I've chosen is John 15:12-17.  Jesus' primary command both in this passage and in John 13:34-35 is that we love one another, and we show our love for Him by loving each other.  In Romans 8, Paul reminds us that we can "fulfill all the righteous requirements of the law" by living in the Spirit.  Huh?  I can live a perfectly righteous life simply by yielding my life totally to God.  In both instances, we are encouraged not to focus on obeying a list of dos and don'ts, but rather to focus on the person of Christ.  The focus is not religious, it is relational.  I will obey God because I do not want to damage my relationship with Him.  I want to honor Him because I enjoy being close to Him, because, well, He is extremely personable, amiable,  appealing and delightful to be around (He is also, btw, really, really smart and really, really powerful). In a word, Jesus is winsome. 

Allow me to clarify.  I'm not saying we shouldn't talk about sin, recognize it, reject it and repent from it.  But the focus can't be on sin, i.e., we can't live there.  The focus must be on God.  We don't live a joyful, peaceful, alive life by focusing on sin.  Or duty.  Or obligation.  Wrapping your life around anything else produces, in one form or another, a warped sense of religiosity.  We once again become trapped in a system.  A human one.  We serve, or sing, or even teach, but we're just going through the motions.

My new friend needs to relax.  He needs to be more like Mary and a bit less like Marta.  He needs to learn to love and be loved.  He needs to pull up a chair and chat with the Almighty.  I am pretty sure he's on the road to discovering a little bit more about the amazing grace of God.

If church is just another way to keep busy, well, I'd rather stay in bed on Sundays, frankly.  But if Jesus is recognized as winsome, as a good friend (who is also the only Worthy One), well, that pumps life into you.  I want to be where He is, and where His other good friends are.  I suspect we might have quite a bit in common.

Quote of the Day:  One of the supreme tasks of the faith community is to announce to us early and clearly the kind of life into which we can grow, to help us set our sights on what it means to be a human being complete.  Not one of us, at this moment, is complete.  In another hour, another day, we will have changed.  We are in the process of becoming either less or more.  There are intricate moral decisions and spiritual transactions taking place.  What are we becoming?  Less or more?  Peterson, Run with the Horses

Is it safe to travel to Mexico?  Check out co-worker Alan's blog for a helpful answer.

I stole these two beautiful pictures from Tina's blog this time.  To view her post, click HERE.  The plume coming out of the first picture is probably ash, but it's usually impossible to tell the different ash and cloud.  Popocatepetl is an active volcano.

For an interesting article on Mexico's upcoming presidential election, click HERE and HERE.

Also...don't get stuck on this post!  To see others, check out these links.
Ministry Vision
Plans and Faces
Christmas and Easter Every Day
Purpose vs. Money

1 comment:

TINA! said...

good pictures AND good post =)