Wednesday, before I started getting ready to come to Kansas City, my girls and I sat down and watched Monty Python (one of the greatest movies of all time, by the way. Just saying.) If you've ever seen it, you will remember the Book of Armaments and the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. It's almost a contradiction in terms, really, holy hand grenade. But there it is, and here's how you're supposed to use it.
"And the Lord spake, saying, 'First shall thou take out the holy pin. Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shalt be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thou foe, who being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it.'"
Ok, it's pretty stupid, I admit. But dog gone it's funny. Sadly thou, it's not completely without scriptural support. Jesus didn't tell the disciples to lob the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards their foes, but he did tell them to be armed for the battle that was ahead.
Luke 22:36 is where it starts. "He said to them, 'But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors;' and I tell you this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching fulfillment."
Then the disciples looked around and said, "Look Jesus, here's a couple." Then he told them that would do.
What do we do with the fact that Jesus tells the disciples that they are going to need swords to be who they are being called to be after he is gone? For me, this is just another reminder of two things: one, that what we are to be about is not just about "us", those on the inside. I've said that before and I'll keep saying it until churches start turning their focus away from what they want and need, to the needs of the greater parish. Two, that who we are, if we truly follow Jesus, will not be easy.
This may sound like broken record stuff, but folks just aren't getting it. This is not easy. Being Jesus followers in today's world is tough. For crying out loud, being Jesus followers in some of today's churches is tough. Folks will hate you for the things you are called to do, say, and be. Folks will call you names. Folks will threaten you if you get too close. But...none of this caught Jesus by surprise.
Here's the beautiful part, though. It's not about carrying a holy hand grenade, or even a sword. We have something much greater keeping us proctected. So, don't be scared to stand up. Don't be afraid to speak up. God has got your back.
So, dream with me. Adam Hamilton told us yesterday not to give up, to keep dreaming about what can be, to not just look at the decline but to hope for the future. And that my friends, is where I'm going to put my energy now.