Today I was talking with a friend about some of the word’s of Jesus and it became so clear to me why I think the church should care about justice, should care about others, and shouldn’t just look like another club that people can join (as long as you look, act, and enjoy the same things as the majority of the people in the club). Jesus messes with people’s heads and says these words:
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
The cross was a method of gruesome punishment, like the electric chair, or lynching. It’s equated with pain, struggle, hurt, and many other harmful and negative images; and Christ tells us to take that up. And then he get’s us even more backwards “lose” our life? What is that supposed to mean?
I’m not hear to do a theological exegesis of the passage, I’d rather just address the fact that THIS is the Jesus that we in the Church profess. There it is as plain as day for any passerby to read. Followers of Jesus should be denying themselves.
So why do those looking on see Christians drive in on Sunday in their fancy cars, pull up to their nice and decked out churches, listen to their health and wealth gospel, sing some feel-good songs, get back in their cars and go out to eat (where they don’t tip well), and head back to their house full of the same gadgets and gizmos everyone else has, ready to start another week?
Where’s the “deny” and “lose” in that? About the only “cross” it seems like most Christian folks are taking up is their house payment. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.
It was only a few months ago that I was an outspoken advocate on addressing the crisis in Darfur. The situation was even newsworthy, carrying stories of Powell calling it a genocide and other information about what was occuring. I helped organize a group to speak to a senator, encouraged people to write letters, send emails and more. I wrote an article for Relevant about Darfur and then I forgot.
It’s easy to forget when you don’t see the pictures and hear the stories on TV or in the Newspaper. It’s easy to forget when you stop reading the emails with “Darfur” in the title (cause you can already guess what they’re about).
It’s easy to forget because the dead bodies, the mutilated people, the raped women, the displaced refugees; none of them are in my way on my bike ride to work. They don’t pass me in the grocery store and they haven’t called me on the telephone.
I saw one of them today, and I didn’t know what to say. A small child just looking at me. “um, I… I forgot.” That’s all I could think of saying it humbles me like nothing else. Enough of me feeling important, feeling like I’m doing good things, living a good life, suddenly I don’t feel so good about what I spend most of my time doing.
Let’s get concerned again, and let’s continue to speak. My voice is not hoarse from crying out too much, I’m rested enough to stand and raise my voice on behalf of those who cannot.
Let your leaders know that you know about your brothers and sisters that are being killed in Darfur. Send them a card. And get more letters for your friends, family, and church members to sign as well.
This podcast I brought a guest speaker in, Nate Manaen, all the way from Las Vegas (He joins us in the study, from inside my cellphone). The topic being discussed was originally brought about by some post Nate put on his Xanga a week ago. You can read his two post and some of the comments here: post 1, post 2.
Here is the podcast.
Please post your comments and thoughts below or on my xanga or Nate’s.
p.s. If your an audio junky, get the quality downloads here.