Rob Portman – and many others including myself – changed his tune about gay marriage once it affected him and his family personally. Imagine how much more compassionate it would have been if he (or we) had been able offer liberty and justice to others without it being about us and ours.
I recently saw this garden plaque for sale, now that Easter is here and we are celebrating in our own gardens, and it really bugs me. I have a friend who planted dozens of daffodils in her garden before she moved to a new home . . . so that the new owners would have a lovely garden. It wasn’t about her.
In spite of Rick Warrens aha first line in A Purpose Driven Life – not to mention assorted ancient brothers and sisters in the faith – we still forget that following Jesus is not about us.
- We don’t obey God so that we can get into heaven. (Really, this is why we keep the commandments? So that we’ll get something out of it? So that we will avoid the fires of hell?)
- We don’t follow Jesus so that we will “be saved” – although that is a lovely bonus. We follow Jesus because it’s the best way to live. We follow Jesus because he taught us to pray that we are to make earth as it is in heaven and that’s about bringing justice to the whole world – even to our enemies. We follow Jesus because he was God in human skin. It’s a beautiful thing to try to love as Jesus loves.
- We don’t “go to church” for our own pleasure – although it might be a pleasurable experience – especially yesterday with all the lilies and “special music.”
- We don’t belong to a church so that we’ll have an appropriate venue for our weddings, baptisms, and funeral. (A lady back in Virginia joined our church for the stated purpose of “having a place for her family to have a funeral when she died.” Ironically, when she died, her family chose to have the memorial service in a funeral home in another state.)
- We don’t belong to a church because “it’s our church” and we like our respected leadership positions or we like that our family roots are there or we like the color of the pew cushions – especially since they were given in memory of our grandfather. We like that our mother’s ashes are in the columbarium behind the church building. We like that the music brings us comfort. We like seeing our friends. We like going to brunch after worship. We just like it. (Note: But maybe we don’t even like it as much as we used to.
Following Jesus is not about us. And if we spend more energy in our churches serving ourselves rather than those outside our walls, we are misunderstanding the gospel. “Christ is risen!” is not a one-day-a-year Call to Worship. It’s a way of life.
So let’s get out there and build a garden – and a world – for other people, in the name of Jesus.