Sunday, July 31, 2016

Christian Abnormalities

Liz was my next door neighbor and every time I walked down the street to the church, we exchanged greetings.  She was not a church-goer, but she was always friendly and neighborly and liked to tell me the kind of stories church members would never tell the preacher.  In the beginning I think she was just trying to “egg” me on and hoping to make me blush.  She was Liz—everywhere!  No phoniness, no mask, no game-playing, she was just who she was.  She played the piano and often times as I walked past her home in the evenings and heard her music, I would go up on her porch and do a little dance.  She got quite a kick out of the “preacher” dancing on her porch and later as we became good friends, she would say, “I don’t know how you ever became a preacher!”  I took that as one of the greatest compliments anyone could possibly give me.  (By the way, I don’t like the word “preacher, reverend,” etc).

You see, preachers (including me) and church people often exhibit religious abnormalities.  We cover up our real selves and become Pharisees, Sadducees, and staid religious folk (sometimes just on Sundays—and sometimes all the time). I know this to be true because I have been caught up in it myself from time to time. Liz was Liz all the time and she was fun to be around just because she was Liz.  

Granddaughter Katie dancing the night away with
her Grandad!  Living water!
Jesus said that his message was “living water;” living water dances, it flashes, it ripples, it sings!  Contemporary followers of Jesus seem to have a lot of trouble with “living water!” Remember how those who first saw him reacted to him?  They turned away from him because he wasn’t the “religious type.”  They couldn’t figure out how he ever became a preacher.  He broke all the rules!  And though sad, it is true, religious people ever since have sought to bring Jesus into conformity with their supposed “religious person” stereotype.  Jesus’ message to us is the gospel, the shout of good news:  and good news makes for a party, where people dance and sing and celebrate. Somehow that good news has become garbled, distorted, and overshadowed by  our religious abnormalities.

These religious abnormalities are also reflected in the way in which we have twisted the teachings of Jesus to fit our own opinions and lifestyles.  We “love to tell the story, of Jesus and His love,” but we have changed the story—it is our story now, not His.

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