Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Jesus kept doing dumb things!

Jesus kept doing dumb things. No wonder he got crucified! In last Sunday's reading he is talking to a bunch of powerful religious and civic leaders and he tells them a story with a simple point to it. Its the story of the tenants in the vineyard in Matthew 21. The story as it has come to us may not be exactly as Jesus told it, but the point was pretty plain. He was basically telling these religious and civic leaders of the Jewish people that they were failing in their responsibility and not being true to God's ways. Now it was told in a nice story but they did not have to be rocket scientist to feel it hitting home with the full force of an accusation. I preached on that story and I was nice... I said God cared for us (Like the landlord cared for the vineyard) God lets us join his team wanting us to be fruitful. And I said that we are responsible for how we use all that we've been given. Now that was nice and sweet and positive... If JC was that savvy he would not have got crucified! That's how I have stayed in church ministry... you have to be niiice and pander to the people! Now I know that as I meditated on this passage in the context of the goings on in our world and the needs of people I mix with, it seemed like the mysterious "presence" was challenging the church in different ways. He seemed to me to be saying that the church has failed in the past 50-60 years to be the prophetic church it should have been. It has got into bed with the self-centred consumer, instant gratification society and failed to really question the values we build our societies on. Now when economic things are biting us in the back side and our environment is screaming in pain, we have people who cannot get out of that self serving mindset. They do not know how to find meaning in deeper things. They live in an empty existential vacuum, rich and poor with a hole in their heart. That the church has just looked after its religious self and presented a consumer driven "bless me Jesus" gospel that fails to truly meet the deep spiritual vacuum in the west. That's what the "sacred" seemed to be saying, but I have a church full of nice older people who would look at me blankly at best, or plan my departure at worst if I said that. So I compromised... that was the wise thing to do... don't you think?

The message of the story of the tenants challenges my compromise... I am one of the wayward tenants who refuse to listen to the voice of God. But, at least I won't get crucified! :-)

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