Thursday, September 23, 2010

Just Play the Game...

(photo from
I know that I've hit on this before, but it just won't go away. I know that I've called him a rebel from Galilee, but dog gone it, he's doing it to himself. I know that I've talked about all the different times he broke the rules, but he just won't quit. It would have been so much easier if he had just played the game.

Why wouldn't he just play the game? He could have had an easy life...the crowds loved him...people adored him...he was a superstar in his own time. If he had just played the game it would have been so simple. All he had to do was follow their laws and traditions, keep his mouth shut in public, stop stirring up trouble, leave well enough alone, and he would have been treated like royalty.

It's so much simpler to just play the game...unless...the game is what's wrong. He could have followed the rules, except that the rules had folks enslaved to a certain way of being. He could have kept the traditions, but the traditions were outdated, and might have even caused some to live in fear.

In today's reading, there is another example of Jesus getting into trouble because he wouldn't play the game...he broke tradition...and they wanted to kill him for it. He and his disciples picked some grain on the Sabbath...ooohhh...and then he actually healed a man on the Sabbath...ooooohhhhh...that's right, gave him his life back on the Sabbath, and it nearly got him killed. Luke 6 is where it's at and it actually says, "But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus." They were plotting his demise, all because he wouldn't play the game.

Actually though, the thing that threatened to see him destroyed was the very thing that drew the crowds to him, caused folks to adore him, and the reason why he was treated like a celebrity in some circles. He came on a mission, and that mission was to show people that living a kingdom life was not about following the rules or traditions that kept them oppressed. He had guts...and that's what's missing in a lot of places.

I have colleagues who are very comfortable in their appointments. They have climbed the church ladder, paid their dues, and have arrived at a church where the salary is nice, the benefits are nice, and it's just an all around good gig. So, they lay low, coddle those that need coddling, play up to those in power, and don't rock the boat. But that's just not what I see Jesus doing, time and time again.

He didn't stir up trouble just to keep things stirred up, he did what he did to bring people release. That was even part of his mission statement... "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Oh, and even saying that nearly got him killed.

I learned a long time ago that I can't play the game and sleep at night. I can't bow to traditions that keep folks from feeling comfortable in God's house. That's why you will very rarely see me in a necktie or a robe. That's why I am very vocal about making folks, especially folks who don't have a relationship with Christ yet, welcome in worship, and designing an experience and atmosphere that allows folks who have never felt comfortable in worship to sit back and relax. That's why I rarely color inside the lines.

He has called us to follow him, and I know that if I actually follow his example it's going to get me into trouble eventually. But after reading the stories, and reading about the lives that he changed, one by one, I have to say, dog gone it, it's worth it.


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