Sunday, May 29, 2011

"It's okay, I'm a limo driver"

I preached about stuff yesterday. And yes, "stuff" is a theological term, look it up. It's in 1 Instantiations 3:7. Respect it! I went to Fuller.

I had one of those paranoid Sunday morning wake-ups, the kind where you realize the sermon you prepared on Saturday may in fact have nothing to do with what God wants to say... good times. I may have written a sermon about what was wrong with "the church", specifically but not limited to the one in Uganda. I had Bible verses, stories, personal experiences, and everything. The problem... I didn't have the Holy Spirit and I wasn't focused on what was right about God/Jesus.

What I'd lined out would have made for a great conversation between friends, but a lousy presentation of the gospel. Ooops. Fortunately my stupidity found its boundaries before I stage dived into a crowd of none. I've not always been this lucky.

Something I've spent some time thinking about is how we inherently remake God in our own image. We round off his edges, change the meanings of his words and actions, interpret his behavior and teaching through the comfort of our own culture, and generally use wishfulness as a governing theological principle. Don't get me wrong, I like doing this myself, the only problem is we end up pulling a Greg Louganis off the edge of an empty boarding gate onto the concrete below. For all you people staring at us like we are complete nut-jobs, it's okay, we're totally qualified for this sort of thing... we're limo drivers.

After a few moments of motivated prayer my focus changed and I spent some time looking at God and the stuff Jesus said he came to do, I preached on that instead. Sure, I pointed out a few ways our lives and motivations are in danger if differing from what God said about himself and us, but that wasn't the focus.

To risk a Lloyd Christmas moment, it seems God is intent on restoration rather than destruction. It's not that God doesn't straight gank things from time to time, another traditional theological term (seriously you people need to spend more time in seminary), it's that "ganking" isn't the point, it's the natural side effect. Someone who goes out looking for demons to war against is stupid, like in a mentally distraught sort of way. Not because demons don't exist, but because they aren't the point. Loving people, healing them up, setting them free, opening their eyes to Jesus, etc. is the thing we are supposed to do. It's fine if a few scowlers get smoked in the process, but the point is the restoration of the will of God in the lives of others.

It's entirely possible for us to be right about the details, in a logical proof sort of way, yet completely miss the point. I'm getting to the place where I'd rather get the point right even if it means losing some of my surety on a few of the details. Having to say "I don't know and I'm not even sure exactly why it matters." about a bunch of doctrinal points is fine with me as long as I can say "This is the Jesus/God I know, and he has totally effed up my life and seems to take joy in making me uncomfortable." If the image you have of God/Jesus doesn't bother/threaten you, chances are you're crushing your eyes shut, clicking your heals together, and chanting "There's no place like home.". Only problem is, you ain't in Oz, Dorothy was an actress, and Toto is dead... I'm just saying.

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