Have you ever done something that you were so proud of that you could hardly wait to share it with others? Was it something you felt could make a difference in someoneʼs life or many peoplesʼ lives or even the whole world? Did you hope that, because it was coming from you, it might somehow have more authority and get more respect? And was that anticipation followed by a realization that no one was very impressed with your effort?
It happens. If you are a preacher, chances are it happens frequently. Take this past Sunday for instance. I felt, and still feel (here I blush at the size of my ego) what I had to say was important. We CAN make a difference. As a community of faith we are CALLED to make a difference.
My belief is that Jesus came to empower people. His message was consistently one of promise that things COULD and WOULD be better for all people because of Godʼs love; not that Godʼs love would MAKE the better happen, but that it would MAKE POSSIBLE a better life for humankind. It is a pretty uncomplicated message that folks have complicated from “the beginning,” as the Gospel of John reminds us in its prologue.
You see, we are still messing things up with the same failing that I am so ably demonstrating in this column – EGO!
Perhaps we, sometimes, think we can get the love of God out of a bottle we have stored on an upper shelf in our closet when we need it. Perhaps, most of the time, we think we can put it back in the bottle and back on the shelf when it becomes an inconvenience to employ it. Such times might include when we play “my religion is better than yours,” or “obviously God
loves me more since I have so many privileges that you donʼt,” or “youʼre too – black, brown, gay, poor, rich, lazy, foreign – to waste Godʼs love on you,” or “I need to have the resources available to help myself and not you,” or “Godʼs on my nationʼs side.” That was a rather awkward sentence, but you get the idea.
After worship, someone suggested I was taking a rather large risk in quoting the Beatlesʼ “Imagine” in the responsive call to worship, especially in the statement “Imagine thereʼs no Heaven…No hell…and no religion too.” To me, such things are, once again, consistent with Jesusʼ vision of the world to come. When the love of God would one day be imprinted within the hearts of men and women, there would be no need of threats about heaven vs. hell, to them mindful of the bond we share as
human beings entrusted with the care of Godʼs creation. There would be no false divisions based on religion, status, riches, color, orientation, nationality nor anything else we have bought into to make us feel “special” among others.
Hard to imagine, yes? Impossible to imagine, no!
Jesus came to empower us to such imaginings, and we have chosen to give our power away to those who hold a temporal power that we have allowed them through our fear, indifference and belief that we are impotent.
I hope if those attending worship Sunday “got” nothing else from my simple sermon it would be this: working together, we have all the power we will ever need.
Unhappy about the state of the world? Do something about it!