DayBreaks for 3/07/17: Replicating the Story of Jesus
From the DayBreaks archive, March 2007:
I was recently blessed to hear Eugene Peterson speak at a conference I attended. He is a humble, thoughtful man of seemingly bottomless wisdom. He is slow to speak – weighing his words carefully to be sure they convey truth from the Truth. I greatly appreciated being able to sit at his feet for a while and learn.
At one point he was talking about the church and how it is perceived by the world. There is much that can be said on that topic, but what Peterson focused on was how the church itself replicates the life of Jesus. Consider how Jesus could have come into the world: with great fanfare and leaflets falling from the sky that was magically translated into whatever language was spoken by the person who picked them up. He could have come with a PowerPoint presentation that flashed across the underbelly of the clouds above our heads, replete with musical background, bold and contrasting colors and maybe some video clips of what hell is like so we’d all be scared straight. Or, he could have come and spent his entire time upon this earth turning rocks into bread and obliterating hunger and disease so that no one on earth would every go to bed hungry or wake up sick again. Wouldn’t those things have been spectacular?!?!?!
But, that’s now how Jesus came, is it? Not one of those things happened when he showed up. Here’s part of the point: Jesus never, during his entire 30+ years of life on this earth, left the world of poverty into which he was born. He spent his life as one of the “people of the land” – despised by the ruling religious hierarchy because they were unlearned, sweaty laborers who couldn’t ever seem to put two cents together at one time, but who were always scrambling for their daily bread. He was humbled, he was broken, he was in the midst of a very sinful people, he seemed powerless before the forces arrayed and conspiring against him. And, he bled…and bled…and bled…from his hands, back, feet and side.
The church, just like Jesus, could have come in a different way. God could have preached the first gospel sermon on the day of Pentecost by shouting out loud from heaven so that all the entire universe heard and understood every single syllable and word. He didn’t. He used a human mouth (just like He did with Jesus). The church (like Jesus) exists in the middle of a very sinful people (and the church itself, being made up of people, is sinful). The church seems powerless against the stratagems of Satan, and is made up of badly fractured, dislocated and broken folk. And (if the church is true to its calling to be the very body of Christ on earth), as the body of Christ literally bled, the church will bleed, too. We will bleed out mercy and compassion on the downtrodden like the blood of Christ. We will bleed because of our stand for faithfulness, to accomplish the will of the Father, even as Christ’s blood fell for the same reason.
Do you ever wonder why the church has such a bad reputation in the world? Granted, some of it we bring on ourselves with our hypocrisy and leaders who fall like dominoes, but here, I think, is the core reason: Jesus was a stumbling block because he was broken, bleeding, appearing powerless and as one who associated with sinners. And that is EXACTLY what the church is to be about, too. We are to be a broken people (because that’s what we truly are – and once our brokenness is seen and admitted – we cannot be hypocrites any longer). We are to bleed literally and figuratively because of our love for Christ and for the lost that He loves. And the church appears powerless. So, why does the church stink to the world? Because the church, as Jesus’ body, takes on His nature of being a stumbling block.
Each of us as Christians are to be “little Christ’s”. Let’s get on with replicating his story and stop publishing our own!
PRAYER: God, we’ve got a long way to go to be very good reflections of Christ. As His body here on earth, we feel powerless, we feel bloodied sometimes and broken. Even as we struggle with what we see in the church and in ourselves, let us remember that you see us differently because we are “in Christ.” If we are to be stumbling blocks to the world and individuals in it, let it be for all the right reasons – because we are living the story of Jesus visibly, out loud, each day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.