A god that needs to be defended by a man is not a god worthy of being served by men.
Religion must protect itself for it has no Defender.
Religion must speak for itself for it has no Spokesman.
Religion must coerce for it has nothing Attractive in it.
Religion must act for it has no Confidence upon which to rest.
Religion is offense waiting to happen.
Religion cheapens it’s own god by placing bounties on the heads of it’s enemies.
Religion must rule for it has no Ruler.
Religion is not related to the Gospel…it is from an altogether different family and father.
“She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.” (Luke 8:44)
Immediately. Jesus did not choose to heal this woman. He did not even know who she was, yet power went out from him. There must be a way to touch God which elicits an outpouring of His power not because of the one who touches, but because of the nature of God. (e.g. if you touch me with the sharp edge of a razor blood flows because of my nature) Many people touched Jesus as he walked. It was a throng – it was like a Beijing subway (or Shanghai -that’s for you my Nicole) – but only one drew blood. Only one held the razor.
Why did the woman tremble when she couldn’t remain anonymous? Picture the whole scene: A raucous crowd pressing and moving along with the Prophet. It is noisy. There is laughter and loud speculation about what this man will do next. He himself is silent. He walks in his way; eyes neither aloof nor downcast. Some in the crowd feel touched by those eyes others wonder what he sees. All is motion and sound and anticipation. Then he stops. A quiet descends. What is going on? He speaks, “Who touched my clothes?” A deeper silence. Many who have been near him are thinking ‘is it me? I was so close…did I touch him?’ No one wants to admit it. They shrug their shoulders and murmur one to another. The quiet grows pregnant. It is getting awkward. Peter senses it. He steps forward and says what others are thinking, “There is quite a crowd around you…How can you say one touched you?” You can almost see Peter whispering this to Jesus. He’s saying – you are embarrassing yourself here. Let’s keep moving. Jesus doesn’t seem to hear Peter at all. He raises his voice, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
And he stands in the quiet crowd looking at their faces. Now the woman is stuck. No one is moving. She can’t retreat without drawing attention to herself. He will see her. No way to go now but forward. She tried to steal Jesus’ power. She wanted healing, not a face to face meeting with the Prophet. And she knows the truth. She knows there really was and is power in this man. Touching him has done something she can’t account for. It took all she had just to get close enough to touch him – all her courage. He has called her out. What will he do? Will he take back his power? Will he humiliate her? In a voice barely above a whisper she tells her story. She speaks to the ground. Tears of fear and joy join as one streak down her face and into the dirt. She cannot look up. Her words end. No one moves. They collectively hold their breath. An unclean person; a woman, has touched a Rabbi. Jesus sees her. He sees the tears. He sees everything. No one has seen her like he sees. “Take heart daughter,” he says, and she does. She breaths for everyone. He continues, “your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
The Prophet moves away to his appointment with the elder’s daughter. The woman sits while the crowd regains it’s momentum. She has touched God. She has stolen power from God like Prometheus stole fire from the gods – and instead of punishment she has been rewarded with healing and a benediction of peace. She trembles again. What kind of God is this?
What does God require of us? What is it that we supply to the One who creates all things, and who says to us “If I were hungry I would not tell you, For the world is Mine, and all it contains.”? There is one thing we can do and one thing only. We can show up. The church is nothing more than a group of people who show up before God freely while acknowledging it is the only thing they can do. How we have been made free and what it means to show up before God is the area we need to explore together.
Most church meetings I’ve attended appear to be a group of believers attempting to maintain their belief and convince someone else to adopt that belief, rather than a gathering of followers mapping out their course and trying to convince someone else to come along for the ride as they go where only Jesus can go.
The first kind of meeting is not only boring it is intellectually offensive; the second is the only kind of meeting Jesus ever conducted.
There is a battle for the heart of any church. The church exists for the mission. It is born within an apostolic context; born on it’s feet moving out into the world with the message of Christ.
It isn’t a place to find security for your children.
It isn’t here to lend legitimacy to your social status.
It doesn’t exist to bless your marriage or to mourn over your death.
It is not here to educate you into a deeper spirituality.
It isn’t designed to be your support group.
It isn’t your holy hideout.
The church does not exist to enrich the lives of Christians, the church exists to enrich the life of the world.
Evidently police don’t like being video taped while doing their jobs. This story out of Lancaster, PA is just one of many I’ve seen in the past few years. I get it. I don’t particularly like the idea of being video taped while I’m doing my job. How hard would it be to account for every moment? Every act? I know some Christians think it is somehow useful to think of themselves as being watched by God at all times so they will behave or not misbehave or whatever. I’m not sure I want to live that way. I’d rather think about God watching my like I watch my children playing. After all the gospel is the end of the law for those who believe. I’m not trying to draw within the lines so that God keeps smiling am I? I want to play like a guy that God showed his full love towards on the cross. He is pleased with me. Go ahead and video me. Its all good.
Everyone I see for premarital counseling is marrying a “good girl” (or “good boy”). I’ve asked most of them if they want to pre-register for divorce counseling at a discounted rate. No one ever takes me up on the offer. If all of us are getting married to good people why do half of us end up divorced? Is it just poor judgment? We thought they were good people and they fooled us?? That is like saying half the people you know exercise horrible judgment when it comes to one of the top two or three decisions they make in life – are half of us really that dumb? The truth is actually much more complex. The people we marry are not as good as we think they are. We are not either. Marriage doesn’t create our problems, it exposes our problems. If we let it, marriage can help us see that we aren’t good people. It can show us exactly where we are selfish or unkind or prideful. And once we are truly exposed, we can come to see the need we have for a grace bigger than the grace of a good girl or a good boy. We need the grace of a good God.