Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Who Would Jesus Petition?

Mega church pastor Mark Driscoll tweeted a Washington Times article explaining that religious folk are upset that none of their clergy will be involved in New York City's 9/11 tenth anniversary memorial ceremony. They are outraged that clergy and prayer won't be part of the planned events.

I used to be one of those people who would jump on the band wagon, get all huffy, get my panties in a twist and sign the petition to get Mayor Bloomberg to invite clergy to the memorial to pray.

Not anymore. And I want to invite my fellow Christians to consider another way. First of all, I understand the reasoning behind getting all huffy--I used to spout it seamlessly. I won't even go so far as to say that I'm sure it is the wrong course of action and that it isn't what Jesus would do. But I will say that I am personally convinced that it is wrong, and that it isn't what Jesus would do. I hate to get so basic and cliche, but as Christians, that is one thing we kind of signed on for, to try and--imperfectly to be sure--do things the way Jesus would do them.

Follow my line of reasoning and see if you don't disagree:

Jesus pointedly stayed away from politics and the official government stage. The people wanted to make him king, they wanted him to lead the charge against the Roman Empire, and he went out of his way to signify and specify that he wouldn't be doing that. Jesus didn't give us a lot of instruction on how to pray, but when he did, he said things like "keep it short" and "do it in private." Jesus had a big problem with people doing things for show. He didn't like it when people would go to great lengths in public to show others how holy they were. He got pissed about it.

So why would his followers demand the right to show up to a party they weren't invited to so they could do one of the things that Jesus specifically went out of his way to condemn?

And what's with Christians demanding things? New Testament Christianity is not big on this. Paul asks the question, why not allow yourself to be wronged rather than to seek recompense in court? Jesus said if someone takes your hat give them your coat too, turn the other cheek, and if someone forces you to walk a mile with them then you should go two. Christians will cry that all of this is out of context and there is nuance. I don't disagree with that, BUT--can you seriously read the New Testament and not agree that the overall thrust is in the direction of non-intervention, a non-demanding posture, and self-sacrifice being valued OVER insisting on your own way, whining about petty injustices and throwing your weight around?

1 Corinthians 13:5--Love does not insist on its own way. Does that apply to the reaction of clergy to a party they weren't invited to? You could make a case either way, but I will humbly submit that only one of those cases is right.

I think one reason why Jesus taught us these things is because he truly understood what real power is. The world's idea of power is incredibly flawed. Worldly power certainly gets things done, but the price is much too high. What people think of power in this world is really coercion. Whether by the power of the law, or indulging someones innate greed to get them to give you what you want, it is coercion. This breeds resentment. This breeds revenge. This breeds war.

The only real power in this world is the power that people willingly and gladly give you.  Real power is when people want to listen to what you have to say because it sounds true. Because it resonates. Real power can only be gotten by having others voluntarily give it to you.

God is not glorified by deliberately public displays of ostentation, he said so himself. Why in God's name are we insisting we should be able to pray from a stage when one of the God-blessed beauties of prayer is that we can do it from anywhere? If you want prayer during this memorial service you can certainly have it; a petition is, to be kind, extraneous.

Who would Jesus petition? Would you start a petition against your neighbor if he didn't invite you to his party? More importantly, what if you didn't invite someone to your party and they started a petition demanding that they would be invited--how would that make you feel? Would you then want to invite them to your party?

Jesus is famous for that saying that everyone loves and no one applies to themselves: Treat others the way you want to be treated. What glory would redound to their God if us entitled, American Christians recovered this simple principle and ran with it?

If this country isn't Christian enough for you anymore the last thing you should do is whine about it and get a petition going around. Not only is it not what Jesus would do, and childish, and annoying--it's also completely ineffective. Well, I shouldn't say that. If the point is to rally the troops, be divisive, and have the faithful pour money into your coffers, then yes, it is effective. But if your goal is to "make disciples of all the nations" then I'm afraid this course of action has nothing at all to do with what Jesus taught you.


Heather said...

I recently came across your blog after reading the tweets between you and Ken Jennings (funny, I know), and I am happy I did. I so thoroughly enjoyed your thoughts in this post. I see so many of our fellow Christians who profess their Christianity and in the same breath seem to forget that to be Christian is to try to be like Jesus. Your words are refreshing and echo my thoughts quite closely.

Anonymous said...

Hey, this is John at The Blog Farm.

Great blog, love your honesty, humor and topics. Followed you on Google friends. Reviewed your site and I will be listing it in the directory shortly.

JD said...

Thanks John! Heather, thanks for checking out my blog. I checked out yours too and was very moved by your posts on Alan. It was wonderful what you said and I'm so glad you had the courage to blog about him. I have two little ones myself so it hit especially close to home.

tom deslongchamp said...

This is awesome.