Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Meeting Jesus in Strange Places: Part II

There's a guy who frequently comes to my ER drunk. In reality he's not the only one, but that's another story. We'll call him Brian (not his real name).

Brian shows up in bad weather with a few beers in his bag. He always has a vague reason for coming to the ER and usually won't let us draw his blood or run any tests until he passes out. Usually this story ends in Brian getting angry about something and yelling and he is eventually escorted out by the police.

In Matthew 25:40 Jesus tells us that whatever we do for the least among us, we do for him.

Here's where I struggle: Brian is a smelly drunk who does nothing to help himself and usually does nothing but waste our time in the ER. Time that would be better spent helping sick and injured people who want to get better. We've given him every chance we can. Each time, he uses and abuses us for a place to get out of the cold.

I guess it begins with how Jesus would treat him. With respect. With the love of a brother who knows that he will never change but hopes that one day he will.

It likely that I'll have Brian hauled out of the ER by the police again. I'll also never turn my back on him (he took a swing at me once). I can try my best to look at him through the eyes of Jesus and see someone of value. If I can do that for him, how much easier can I see the rest of the world in that way?

NOTE: Brian isn't really a real person. Rather, he is a composite of several folks I see on a regular basis. Privacy law prohibit me from sharing real stories of real people. However, Brian the composite gets the point across.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Meeting Jesus in Strange Places

Matthew 25:31-46

It’s easy to overlook people who aren’t important.
Well, important in the way the world defines important.

In Matthew 25 Jesus tells the parable of the sheep and the goats. Here, Jesus rewards the righteous for their treatment of “the least of these brothers of mine…”

Who are the least of these brothers that you know?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


So I missed the Monday deadline. It's been a busy few days.

I guess this is a good time to talk about grace.

Last week I talked briefly about rules and how they aren’t the whole picture. People like rules because they define borders. Color inside the lines and God has to let you into heaven. I’ve often heard individuals say they are in line with God because they follow the Ten Commandments and are a good person. Well, there is more to the Bible than just ten rules for living. Additionally, how does one define being a “good” person?

I’d like to think I’m a good person. However, the flaws are there. Sometimes they show up when I least expect it. The story we live in (as Christians) is about grace. It’s not about knowing the special key to pleasing God and getting into heaven. It’s about being a forgiven people who are interested in being a blessing to the world.

Light in the darkness.
A city on a hill.


Monday, February 8, 2010

The Gospel of Negativity

I grew up learning about things I was supposed to not do. These were things that God didn’t like. It said so somewhere in the Bible but it’s hard to find because it’s a big book with a lot of words that I didn’t understand.

To a young me, obedience to God was showing up at church and avoiding a list of behaviors and actions that were bad. People who didn’t follow this list of rules just weren’t in favor with God. It was all about following the rules. That made God happy. Right?

However, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says this:

"Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

(Matt 5:14-16 The Message)

The Gospel is supposed to be the good news. Good news is not the idea that God has piles lists of rules for us to be subject to. Good news is that Jesus has come to earth to save humanity and end our separation from God.

Letting your light shine doesn’t come from how well you follow the rules. Sure, leading a life of righteousness is part of the package. Is simply being good letting your light shine? Declaring Jesus through your life will get your noticed. Standing up against injustice or being the champion for the weak will get attention. Minding your own business and just staying out trouble is hiding under the bucket. How can you let your light out?

More to come…