I was watching the 400th republican debate the other night and thinking just how boring and uninspiring it all was. Not to just pick on the poor republicans – the democratic debates have been just as predictable and safe. Where is the passion, where is the fearlessness, where is the courage to say what really needs to be said? It occured to me – these guys and gals will never speak the pure unadulterated truth because they covet and crave power too much. It’s not just the politicians though, we all hunger for and desire power. Is it possible that power is more of a driving force in humanity than money and sex combined? Quite possibly. So, those of us who follow Jesus have a problem. We have quite the delimma. When we choose the way of the cross, we are suppose to give up power in favor of love right? Jesus understood this better than anyone. He understood that the powerless were the only ones who could afford the luxury of being steadfast in their convictions. When we forsake power we have absolutely nothing to lose. That’s why the guys who are losing are probably the ones who are really telling the truth. As powerless people we begin to realize that nothing can be taken away from us. I was thinking about how many times a day I am faced with and confronted with the prospect of compromise. Why do I give in so often knowing full well that what I am doing is diametrically opposed to the perfect will of the Father. I think has to do with my hunger for power. When I am able to make up my mind that power is not the answer, when I then forsake it – I can dare to live and act in a way consistent with Jesus and His teachings. Why is that? Because there is now nothing to be gained through compromise. What better example than the early church. How did they live their lives with such reckless abandon, such joy, such fulfillment in the face of so much hostility? They had given up power in favor of love. Instead of always pointing at the politicians, the religious right, and the religious left I think I’ll just keep in mind that there are three fingers pointing back at ME from now on.
There is this word, this adjective I use to use all the time that I never ever say anymore. That word is “edgy.” A few years ago you would hear me use it to defend something, sell something, or describe something to the people I do ministry along side of. Until that one fateful day when I overheard my senior pastor using the “E” word. I remember my reaction – “he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, he doesn’t even know what “edgy means” he is just being a poser copying me!” Then I though to myself, “what exactly do you mean when you use the word “edgy,” do you even know what you’re talking about or are you being a poser yourself? I had been using this word for a few years and come to think of it, I wasn’t even sure I knew what it meant. Just like the many students that I work with, I too can become obsessed with cool, self-focussed, impulsive, caught up in the moment and trendy. Okay, I admit it. I have from time to time, slid into an adolescent approach to faith and mission. Rather than asking myself is this helpful, constructive, meaningful or dare I say, “true” I resorted to words like “edgy” hoping to sort of round off the edges of a scandalous and foolish sounding gospel – hoping to be “relevant” above all things. I guess what I’m trying to say is that being “edgy” is not really my purpose as a follower of Jesus – being obedient to Jesus and true to His gospel is. “the roller coaster of clever new theologies has subjected clergy to one fad after another…We have no stake in saying something new that is of little use to the church more interested in saying something true than something new.” Will Willimon & Stanley Hauerwas
Okay, I’ll admit what my sweet wife and kids have known for years – I am a serious news junkie. Not just any news, political news has always been my forte. It’s weird, I’ve been like this since childhood. One of my earliest pre-school memories has me sitting in front of the old back & and white, 3 channel, RCA watching a news conference with John Fitzgerald Kennedy and I’m totally engrossed. I also remember being in 8th grade and staying up virtually all night watching the Nixon/Humphery presidential returns at a friends house. I’m in the 8th grade for crying out loud! What bores so many of my dear friends and family members to tears has always inspired and captivated me for some strange reason. Rock-n-roll, Politics and Jesus are such strange bedfellows. Lately I’ve grown a lttle weary of politics and politicians. Except for Tommy Williams who is a member of my church and a faithful supporter of Rebelbase Student Ministries. Your a champion Tommy! Seriously, I’ve grown tired of the empty promises, the partisan bickering, and the highly charged political environment we find ourselves in today. It’s gotten crazy out there and the American people seem to be the ones suffering the most from all the insanity. But this morning I woke up to two people from two opposing parties treating each other with dignity and respect and I almost fell out of bed. My old friend Joe Scarborough has moved to mornings on MSNBC from 6-8 a.m. Strangly enough, he has taken the spot previously occupied by radio talk show host Don Imus. Scarborough, a former Republican Congressman from Florida, was interviewing presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton on his morning program on the subject of healthcare. Healthcare – wow, has there ever been a political issue more polarizing? Of course, gay marriage and abortion but it’s definitely in then top three! I think I watched history being made this morning at 6:30 a.m. Republican Joe Scarborough and Democrat Hillary Clinton actually had a civil discussion on the subject, treating one another with great respect and dignity. This old political junkie almost started crying as I watched these these two political foes actually listening to and understanding one another. What a welcome breath of fresh air. Then it occured to me – Joe loves Jesus! I remembered the night I heard him share his testimony about how he had come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. I then thought – Hillery loves Jesus too! I remembered reading about her Methodist youth minister who had awakened her to the things of God during her teenage years. It was truly something to behold – these two former adversaries listening, understanding, respecting, and letting the spirit come through loud and clear. It was surely a new kind of politic. We will disagree – we will have strong opinions in the days to come where compromise is not an option but we must as Joe and Hillery so beautifully displayed today, reflect the loving, merciful, grace-drentched Jesus to everyone we meet.
My middle son Wes is a big Earnest Hemingway fan. I celebrate his appreciate for literature and art but I’m sorry to say that when I think Hemingway I think drunk guy from the Keys. Is he Jimmy Buffet’s dad? Seriously, I do know enough about history and literature to know that Hemingway is a great American treasure and one of our most gifted and inspiring writers. I recently ran across this wonderul think piece on Hemingway. The intriging article made much of his love and affection for the city of Paris. He once described the city as a “moveable feast” saying that once you’ve experienced it, wherever you go for the rest of your life, it goes with you. It occured to me that this ought to be a picture of this life we have in Jesus. I’d like to think that wherever we go and whatever we do, followers of Jesus would be a “moveable feast” to the world around us. The idea of getting “under the skin” of people (in a good way of course) to the degree that they could not get over us sounds all too fantastic! Most days I’m embarrased by the way the church has presented the loving, transforming Jesus. Our greed, hunger for power, cynicism and indifference towards social justice creates an environment of misunderstanding, distrust, and anger towards the saints. We so struggle with this most important calling – to reflect Jesus in our lives. And yet, when we’re open to the spirit, living humbly and simply, and not having to be “right” all the time, we do seem to inspire and incite curiosity don’t we? We become that “moveable feast” that cynics, seekers, and agnostics just can’t seem to shake.