Never our church – never me

Listen and hear. Why the two words? Maybe because one is not connected to the other.

“Sorry, what did you say again … ?” as we zone out for a few seconds and lose what was being said to us.

“Sorry I wasn’t listening there, something you said caught my attention … “ as we mull over an inside insight we just had.

The Church’s “worry beads” is that “no one is listening to us” – that the very people “who need to hear us” are turning away.  And like a rosary the “worry beads” are worn ever smoother with the repetition of prayer:

“Let Them Listen and Be Saved … Work In Their Lives and Let Them Know Your Wonder … They Are Lost and Lonely, Lord, Work Your Miracle and Let Them Know You … in Jesus’ name we pray.”

Don Merritt wrote about a movement, a relationship: Church as Relationship – something that excited people enough for those same people to “want to move”. Something that excited those same people to listen. And something that connected so strongly they “wanted to hear”. Don makes the point that Jesus was inundated with “the same people” the Church now prays for. The same Jesus who had crowds flocking likes flocks. All drawn to The Shepherd. The same Church now with many shepherds all looking for a flock.

Two verses went WHAM BAM, THANK YOU SAM this morning:

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28

Jesus invited “listening” – He could not (would not) insist they “heard Him”. The hearing bit is our choice. The listening bit is as well. But “hearing” … ?

”He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases.” Luke 6:17-18p

Those people were “the movement”. Moved enough to move themselves to come and hear Him. They had come to hear Him. They had come to listen to Him. They came to Him.

A bit of healing here and there went a long way. The relief of suffering a definite “what’s in it for me” incentive. A “come and be healed” making the movement to Jesus worth the effort. But that was not “just it”.

The movement moved with Him. They stayed to hear. They stayed to listen. They moved as He moved.

Or else why the feeding of the five thousand, the demolition of roofs, the sitting in a boat to teach … all of that “crowd control stuff” would have been unnecessary if those same people went straight home again.

They moved with Jesus – they stayed.

No one has ever written about Jesus’ worry beads. Not that I know of.  Maybe because He didn’t need them.  Maybe because when you are so relevant, so connected, so liberating, so empowering, so disinterested in budgets and courses and buildings and programmes and diaries and calendars and all the “stationery cupboard” of institution …  You have so much more time!

Time to be relevant. Time to connect. Time to liberate. Time to empower … Time to Move.

I never used a diary. Had no need of one. Not until I started trying to join in “church life”. Now I never to go to church without one. Now I spend too much time “coordinating diaries”. And I see every minister and shepherd with furrowed brow too often looking for a gap to fit something else in. Maybe even to fit “themselves in” to their own life.  Every congregation and volunteer the same.

“Sorry I can’t do then, I already have … “

It’s hard to be a movement when you have to schedule moving.

When you have to work around all the “I am already double-booked on that day”. It’s hard to be relevant, to connect, to liberate, to empower – to move …  When we all need to find a “free space” in our diaries.  Maybe that is why “we are not heard” … why “they are not listening” … why we have become a static institution … why we have our worry beads of prayer:

“Let Them Listen and Be Saved … Work In Their Lives and Let Them Know Your Wonder … They Are Lost and Lonely Lord, Work Your Miracle and Let Them Know You … in Jesus’ name we ask.”

Remember those good old initials: “WWJD” – What Would Jesus Do?  Some love ’em and some loathe ’em.  Just like diaries – some live by those initials and others do not.

I had a thought this morning.  That He might just say: “RTFM” (which I will leave you to Google should you need to).

Because more and more I wonder …

WE know HIS answer – we do.  We teach and preach The Answer week in and week out – inside the brick building we call church.  We sit and nod and say “amen” with the occasional “hallelujah” to The Answer … we all add more and more dates to our diaries because we know The Answer.

(or is it that we all “know about” The Answer – but have yet to make it our own – to really “know” Him as The Answer?)

And if that thought has any merit, then that (by the process of elimination) has to leave a slightly uncomfortable thought:  Maybe WE do not like HIS answer.

Because when it comes to lack of movement, a lack of moving, all that “theological inertia”… He gave us some verses for that as well (the ones we think apply to “others ”, but never “our church”, never to “ME”) …

Didn’t He?

5 thoughts on “Never our church – never me

  1. They came out to “hear” Jesus. There is an old Hebrew connotation to “hear” relating to actually paying attention. To “hear” was to believe” and to “believe” was to “experience”.

    Hmmm…..

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