Monday, June 21, 2004

taking as jesus did this sinful world as it is

this was the line in the prayer that really got me thinking, and wanting to pull apart this prayer. i had been saying it for years and i never really caught this line until a couple months ago.

it was like my brain said 'wait, what was that? back up.' so many times i expect god to just sweep into my life, clean up all of the problems and fix everything. everything. why would my friend have a sick child, why would this teenager die unexpectedly, why wouldn't we have more financial freedom? why, why, why?

and then i really heard this line:

...taking as jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as i would have it..."

jesus didn't come to earth, heal everyone, feed everyone and make things all better. why? i don't know, but he didn't. he had a purpose, and he even faced his own share of hardships while on earth. why should i expect any different.

the jesus of my childhood and youth was more like mr. rogers than the son of god. i adore mr. rogers, so that was okay for awhile. but he was so emasculated and so 'nice' that when life got hard he just didn't have the grit i needed to help me, so i set him aside.

it was only when some women from my church wanted me to teach a study on phillip yancy's 'the jesus i never knew' that i even remotely started to understand how wrong what i had been taught was.

i fell in love, deeply in love.

this jesus was real, he respected women and let them speak. he loved them and redeemed them IN THEIR SITUATIONS - not plucking them OUT and giving them new circumstances. the woman caught in adultery was told to go and sin no more - jesus didn't make it easy for her. he just loved her where she was at.

that 'name it claim it' theology is dangerous, not because it's making some bad preachers rich, but because it puts a wall between the seeker and god when all the 'claim it' stuff doesn't fall into their laps. church is not an amway convention. church is where jesus should meet us in our circumstances and give us the strength to climb out of them. we think that means from lower middle class to upper middle class. nope. that means from brokenness, generations of addictions, to health and healing. jesus never promised me an suv and a fancy house.

he actually said the opposite.

i'm glad that reinhold neibuhr added this line. i'm glad he didn't make it all about sunshine and posies. jesus didn't come to earth with a big agenda, he helped those in front of him, who screwed up the courage to ask. yes, some got healed, but 1000's didn't. that jesus rarely shows up at our churches.

when i said 'should' and 'rarely shows up' i don't mean that it's HIS fault - it's the churches fault. rarely do we teach or talk about this jesus. we want the big medicine in the sky, the big slot machine in the sky - give me the bling bling jesus, not the one who 'took this sinful world as it is' and left it with more problems and confusion than when he got there.

god is such a mystery to me. he works backwards most of the time as far as i'm concerned, that's what makes him real to me. that's when i know that i didn't just invent him as a crutch. because trust me - i could invent a super sonic, never let me down, opiate of the masses kind of crutch. god doesn't just make everything better, he challenges me, spurrs me on and causes me to reach. he will never do for me what i can do for myself. trust me, if i was inventing a god that's not who he'd be. my god would have given me remote control finger tips. i wouldn't have to leave my couch to do anything.

that's really why we try to sugar coat it and make it pretty, shine it up for the world, because in truth, our god is hard to swallow. he requires a lot of me, expects a lot of me - but gives me all the strength i need to accomplish it. i'm glad jesus didn't get his followers together, build them a resort complex and say - 'enjoy, look what i've done for you - look at the place i've prepared, live here and all your problems will be taken care of.' that's the jesus i see far to many 'christians' pushing in our world today.

my mother (the real bobbie) was very sick for most of my life. shortly after our family found jesus in 1973 she began to get very ill. the doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with her. we heard diagnoses from 'cat scratch fever' to you've got cancer, and 2 weeks to live, go home and prepare your family. what really was wrong was that my mother had SLE nephritis, more commonly called 'lupus'.

lupus is a very personal disease, it affects each person in their own curious way. basically my mom had these really eager white blood cells that thought she was sick all through her body, and so they would attack her organs and eventually injure them, and then she really would get sick. it destroyed her kidneys and lymph nodes.

our church didn't 'do' healing, but i know she wanted to meet that jesus who would take that away. when he didn't 'hear' her prayers it made her very angry. anger was my mom's way of dealing with the things in the world that were out of her control. a seething, slow burn kind of anger.

so i grew up thinking god was pretty impotent. i would have never admitted it out loud, but really i didn't get why someone so powerful would choose to let bad things happen to people who followed him. my world was so small i never thought about 'why are people starving in third world countries' - i just thought that if someone was wearing god's badge that they should at least get some club membership priveledges.

taking as jesus did this sinful world as it is...

today, just for today i am going to try to see a bit from his perspective. how facing my hardships makes me better and stronger, that by leaning into the wind i am developing the spiritual muscles i need to face each day. as jesus did. help me jesus.

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