I was driving to Banning Ca, Sat August 4 to be exact. I was thinking....one thinks of many things on these trips.....of Jesus’ words "you are the salt of the earth....you are the light of the world". I was preparing in my heart’s mind for doing the Sermon on the Mount at Victory Outreach in Banning the next morning. When He says "you are" The you is His...Anyone can presume to be one of His, and yet not be His...presumptions can be dangerous. So when we hear the "we as Christians" phrase are we presuming faith... and not simply presenting faith to the hearer? Jesus is always presenting ....this is one way of His being new and in the moment... all the time. It keeps Him fresh. "His mercies are new every morning" is not a bible verse to Him only, but a living reality of His Person; which is why it is scripture. When I do Sermon on the Mount I deliberately attempt to not play Jesus but attempt to allow Him to play me. This takes lots of pressure off me. I do not have to perform, but rather through concentration, can be ministered to ..He to me and through me. You can see why I love this so much. The travel, the drive ,the hours away are all worth the journey to get there. I do miss home and Wendy is home to me especially. The perk is that He plays me.
The understanding of this simple sentence, He plays me, did not come to me "overnight". In a way I cannot say it has even come to me now, but I can say I am learning its value everyday. I cannot tell you how many times I have asked pastors "do you enjoy pastoring?"... To enjoy the work is to find "the rest". Rest is not time off, but time "in".........
So here I am, doing Sermon on the Mount on Sunday am....and I get to rediscover Jesus all over again. As He walks through each beat of each verse I am all too aware that He is demonstrating His word- presence again. Some people say to me " imagine being there 2000 years ago". I say to you yes, but what about just now? It’s that presumption again that blocks the experience we so need and also blocks what we so desperately desire. Jesus now.
Did you hear from God after SOM?” I asked the audience of about 100 packed into a small, but nicely air conditioned room. All the heads nod up and down. They understood the question. It takes a child to understand a child. We miss Jesus’ message so much and so often ... we miss that He is the Child....and like a child He wants to be with friends.... because He is childlike. The audience was childlike too because they understood the childlikeness of the question.
When at the Spanish congregation later that afternoon doing Matthew 24 in Cathedral City Ca, I asked them are "you watching for Jesus?, Are you looking for His coming.?" “Look up, your redemption draws near!” Or “are you where ‘there is a dead body where the vultures gather?’" Up, or down? With Jesus it is that simple.....in His simple childlike way we begin to "see" how deep His simplicity is. Are you "watching" or just discussing end time theology? Our daughter Stephanie would say to me “Daddy what did Jesus say when you prayed?” No complications for her. I say to Stephanie these days "I want to be like you when you were 8 years old."
A week to the day from this writing Wendy and I went to Chick-Fil-Le for lunch. We went back at night with our home group friends too. The owner of CFL was quoted in a Baptist journal as being in favor of Gods view of marriage. Simply put, not same sex marriage. Well you would have to be a modern Rip Van Winkle to miss what happened. Mike Huckabee mentions giving CFL some business for August 1st to offset the bad publicity they withstood. The next thing you know....well what do you think?
At Chick-Fil-Le that day and night, people were really nice. I did not hear any gay bashing...in fact I did not hear anything about anybody. People were just having a good time. It was that simple. Being against what is wrong is important, but being for what is right... is vital. If the believing community was simply presuming their faith...what we would have seen was no crowds at all in support of a brother. Or we would have seen an angry crowd claiming our rights and steeming mad at our "enemies". I have heard no reports of this. There was love and consideration all over the place. Imagine being an employee at CFL - they must have gay emplyees too. "You are the light of the world....a city set on a hill cannot be hidden"
You see the attack against a Christian’s “right" to be Christian is clearly what is happening. In this instance, the spirit of this anti "Christianity" was clearly understood by the believing community. This was an attack against God and His people; it was a direct assault. People came out because they understood this. That was all we had to do....all we had to be. It wasn’t a doing event it was a "being" event. It was also more of a being for something...for Some-One....than being against some one or thing. We did not have to defend our faith; we simply had to have faith. It was not a for Jesus ...it was a from Jesus. We were not playing God here. How do I know? Because one cannot play God; only God can play God. If we were playing God we would have made all the mistakes an actor makes when he or she cannot get into his character. People who play God get frustrated so we go into judgmental mode or we "theologize" or get angry. Because God to people of a presumptive faith...is very unhappy or simply non involved. And so on.
That is not what happened that day. What did happen was a fullfillment of yet another verse from Sermon on the Mt "if someone strikes you on the right cheek turn to him the other one too". It is important that we know the season we are in. To interpret God as God of eternity only is to miss the timing of His eternal words spoken in this day and in time. He is sovereign and is present. This very moment. God playing me, us. Thats what I saw at CFL. His light was shining through people.
So many people on Sunday morning ....so many wanting a touch.... God The Listener....reaching through time and healing an angry, revengeful, forlorn and tired people…hearing Him once again. When we really hear from God it is as if for the first time. It may take a day or a week a month to really connect or a micro second, but seeking Him as He is ..is to be reached by Him as we really are. A good sermon and the bible always challenges ones presumptions about God and replaces them with a challenge from God to be real again. "Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect". He is not talking about perfectionism.
I asked the audience later that day,"are you watching for God as a child looking up?” Like Stephanie saying to me,"Daddy what did Jesus say?” "Or do you just have a theology about His return?” You see to face God each of us needs to face our greatest fear and personal prejudice from our times. I said to God as I took a walk break when in Indiana recently, “If I think about this or that I will be angry?" So He said "face your anger with Me beside you and be healed." Jesus is not just bringing all things politically to closure, but things personal too. Ironically, facing these issues with Jesus is experiencing God now. I mean right this very moment. So as I shared on Sunday am we may not resolve all these things God has spoken into our heart today. But we begin today,.. again. Now. New.
CFL was a kind of Day One . As I said Sunday am, today is the beggining. "Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect" is to live not for the moment, but in the moment. To not have to be the minister, father, all knowing one, etc, but to allow the One who does have all and know all ...to play with you. We, I predict will have many more big moments like CFL. We will be attacked personally and corporately, Christians and Christianity on trial, we will be tempted to believe every lie the enemy, and I mean "the evil one", throws at us. Even more so we will be assaulted in family and very personal issues. Bad times are the right time to be healed emotionally from what we have used theology to hide behind. But remember it is Him that is "despised and rejected by men" and increaingly each and every day. "His mercies are new every morning.....great is thy faithfulness." Truth and Love are the same Person.