Earlier this week, I listened to two people discuss this Sunday's gospel reading. I have to be frank with you, I came home disgruntled. Somehow, they missed entirely Jesus saying that he came for the poor, the blind, the oppressed. Instead, they thought about how proud everyone must have been that the local boy turned out so well, and isn't it great that Jesus is our Messiah?
I was disproportionately irritated. "Were they listening?!" I asked Mr. M. "What does it even mean to them, that Jesus is the Messiah, if they're not concerned with what He came to do?"
So I spent a good day and a half rolling my eyes and feeling frustrated (both mature and Christian behavior on my part, obviously), and then I remembered that feeling resistance to something is a good reason to pray. So I did.
And I realized, "Jesus is the Messiah!" is a great Sunday School answer. When the Gospels reference Hebrew prophesy, we're trained to recognize that as shorthand for, "Jesus is the Messiah! Jesus is the one we were waiting for!" That answer gets you the gold star. But we don't ask, "Why were we waiting? What did we need? What do we need now? How is He saving us each day?"
Most of us want the gold star. For most people (I'm going to make a generalization here, and maybe someone can tell me if I'm in the right ballpark), especially people who have been in the church for several decades, it is not OK to give a different, possibly wrong, answer about God. It is often not OK to ask real questions in church. Uncertainty is scary for all of us, but uncertainty coupled with the threat of punishment (from authority figures, or from God's own self), is understandably too much to risk.
And so, I hope in ministry that we can get rid of some of those gold stars. I'm worried that they're serving double-duty as shackles.
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