Friday, November 9, 2012

Jesus ain't a faker

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” (Luke 12)

Hupokrinesthai: Big fat greek word which pretty much means to “act a part, to pretend,” in short: to lie.  Lying is a form of hiding.  Ancient Greek actors even used to wear masks portraying their characters.  You’ve seen Comedy and Tragedy?  Jesus is telling us in Luke 12 we do the same thing, to each other and to God.  Charles Zimmerman, the pastor at Calvary Souderton has said, the Christian four letter word is, “fine.”  “How are you?”  “Fine and you?”  “Fine.”  Pleasantries dispensed.  Strangers remain.  Move along citizen, move along.  You don’t care about me.  I don’t want to care about you.  Love complicates my life.  Better to be unknown and unknowable except by a chosen few.  To this I say, to live in fear of being hurt is love only one’s self.

But justshane, we have to have defenses, don’t we?  We shouldn’t cast our pearls before swine, right?  Won’t some people use the knowledge and access we give them to hurt us?

Yes.  Yes they will.  For proof look no further than Jesus.

When I look at Jesus, I don’t see him hiding.  I don’t see him limiting access until after a person has chosen to mock or attack him.  Even then he politely excuses himself only when the stones get picked up. 

Haha!  Got you now, justshane!  Jesus taught in parables!  Parables are riddles!  Riddles are hiding!  Yes, yes they are.  Matthew 13 picks up the transition between Jesus’ plain teaching and the beginning of the parables.  When the disciples asked him about the stylistic changes, 11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see;

    though hearing, they do not hear or understand.”
He had been dispensing secrets in buckets. This is after the Sermon on the Mount, y’know, where he said, 39 But I say to you, do not resist the evildoer, but whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 And the one who wants to go to court with you and take your tunic, let him have your outer garment also. 41 And whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.  43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘Hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven…” (Matt 5)  He goes from this to “a farmer walks into a bar…”  What changed? 

The reception.  Matthew 13 begins with these words, “That same day…”  well, what day was that?  Look in Matthew 12.  It was the same day the Pharisees and Herodians began plotting to kill him.  The same day he was accused of casting out demons by demonic power.  The same day him mom and brothers came to collect him because they thought he’d lost his mind.  Jesus never stops revealing the truth, he never stops putting himself out there but he’s been struck and now he’s turning the other cheek and that cheek is: he now strategically hides the truth in a field of a story so only those willing to look for it will find it.  Those who “have” the grace to go deeper will be given more.  Those who want to know and be known by Jesus will meet the real Jesus.  Those who choose to squint from behind eye-slits and filter his voice from beneath the mane of their masks of pride and self-righteous indignation have the same access, the same information, the same Jesus.  They have only blinded and deafened themselves.

But Jesus, he doesn’t stop.  He doesn’t change.  He constantly engages total strangers on personal levels. He continues to speak truth in love to everyone, even his enemies.  He doesn’t only reveal himself to people like himself.  There is no one like him! The men he bares his soul to the most, Jimmy, Jack and Pete, are so bewildered by him, so star-struck by him, the best reaction they can come up with when he gets all naked-and-unashamey with them is to take a nap.  They close their eyes and ears and disengage from him too!  “Whoa, Jesus!  TMI, dude!  We’re just here for the free bread and fawning crowds, man.  We’re just looking to get an inside track on the future kingdom.  Frankly, we were sick of fishing.  All this mushy, heart-to-heart, sensitive-male stuff is a bit unnerving and enervating, y’know?  Gonna crash now.  Peace out.”  How they must have wept later at the missed opportunities.  How they must rejoice now in an eternity of greater opportunities!

Monday I focused on how we are all now one bread, one body in Christ.  How can we be that if we hide from each other?  How can we be that if we don’t want to know each other?  If the flour and the water and the oil and the herbs all refused to mix, there’s no bread, just flour, oil, water and herbs burning in a pan.  All the law is summed up in love.  Did you ever love a liar?  Did you ever love someone you found out had been lying to you all along?  Did you ever love someone who, while they didn’t lie openly, they kept you at arms’ length?  Did you ever feel like giving up?

So does Jesus.  Be glad he doesn’t.  Did you ever love the idea of someone without actually taking the time to get to know the real person?  Then you didn’t love them.  21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many miracles in your name?’ 23 And then I will say to them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matt 7)   Four words I never want to hear, “I never knew you.”  They are the words of a divorce.  They are the declaration of a lover scorned, a lover who was never loved.  20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar, for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen is not able to love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this is the commandment we have from him: that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” (1John 4)

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