Friday, February 25, 2011

Jesus Never Called Us to Be Comfortable

Inside a car wash
Greg Boyd is like the little kid student in your classroom that asks the questions that make you feel uncomfortable, the ones everyone is thinking about but dare not ask. Imagine Greg in your class with Tony Campolo sitting next to him. There's an uprising coming.

This morning I'm reading another chapter in Greg's excellent book The Myth of a Christian Religion. He writes:

"When did Jesus ever call us to be comfortable or encourage us to make nonbelievers comfortable in order to get them to accept the Gospel? And when did Jesus ever call us to be focused on growing large churches?
The answer is, never.
To the contrary, Jesus was perfectly willing to make people profoundly uncomfortable and to let people walk away when they understood the high cost of following him. His one and only concern was to be obedient to his Father's will, not to be efficient at acquiring a large following. And since we are called to imitate him in all things, this must be our one concern as well.
We are called to manigest the "one new humanity" Jesus died to create - whether it makes people comfortable or not, and whether it increases or decreases the size of our congregations."

After 5 years of preaching through the 4 Gospels there are many Jesus-moments that stay with me. One of them I occasionally think of is, ironically, John 6:66. Jesus, in a non-seeker-sensitive moment, has just told his disciples some hard things. We read: "From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him." Did Jesus run after them, offering to install a coffee bar, throw a pizza party, watch "Lord of the Rings" and play a few rounds of "Sardines?" Not quite. Instead, Jesus looked at the Twelve and asked, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Peter gave the answer: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Actually following after Jesus should and will make us feel uncomfortable. It's counter-flesh activity. The flesh says, "I'll dress myself and go where I want to." But look at what Jesus says to Peter in John 21.

"Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”"

This is what happens when you lose your religion and become part of the Revolution.