Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hard Teachings

On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” John 6:60

Confession time:  As a pastor, I am grateful the Bible isn’t made up of only red letters!  I am grateful that there is more than just the teachings of Jesus, because lately as I have focused on the red ink in the Gospels, I have found Jesus to be a bit…can I say it?…extreme! 

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”  Luke 6:27  Really, Jesus?  Most of us have a hard time loving and doing good to our friends, and You want us to love and do good to people who hate us?  Can’t I just wallow in bitterness or at least stay indifferent? 

Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.   Matthew 5:42  Whenever people ask me for anything, You want me to just give it to them? Carte blanche?

If you hold anything against anyone, forgive him.  Mark 11:25  Did I lose something from the Greek translation?  Because in English it reads that I need to forgive everything I have against everyone.

Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.  Matthew 22:21  That may be cool for first century Palestine but do you understand what tax bracket I am in?

You get the point!  Lately I’ve been reading the Gospels raw, taking off all cultural qualifiers and coming to the Gospels with a “What if He really meant it?” mentality. God has revealed to me afresh and anew…Jesus said some pretty radical things.  And He did it for one reason, to liberate you and me from our self-delusional lifestyle that gives a (genuine) moral nod to Christ, but ultimately renders Him as a servant of our American Dreams.

It’s no wonder in John 6 passage above, His disciples declared His teachings as hard. They are hard.  They are also liberating.  Our futile condition as moral rebels demands hard teaching. Maybe if we don’t see Jesus’ teaching as hard, we’re really not following Christ close enough.  

If you are still reading and haven’t given up on me (or called the Covenant Headquarters to check if my ordination is still in good standing), I have a challenge for you.  Join me starting September 25 on a crazy journey down The Way.  Your leadership has prayed and prepared for months for this journey and it has been a battle for us.  We have wrestled with these hard saying of Jesus regarding discipleship.  But we believe that this is the next step for PCC and we believe that it will be liberating, so join us in the wrestle.

What I am asking is very simple: Commit with me through the fall to read 1 chapter each week from a book called Radical.  (They will be on sale this weekend. But if you want a preview, click here. Commit with me to hear 1 message each week at PCC from the Gospels on what Jesus taught about following Him and then commit with me to join 1 group each week to wrestle interpersonally with what you are learning.  This is going to take some sacrifice, some margin, some saying no, but I can promise you this, it will be worth it.  The alternative just isn’t that attractive.

Pray about it please.  As my fitness pastor, Debbie, says to me over at the Community Center almost every week, “You gotta change something to change something!”  Let’s change something together.  Isn’t that what we are all about?  People . Changing . Communities?

I love being your pastor!