“You know…what has happened all over Judea…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the holy Spirit and power [and Jesus] went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” (Acts 10:37-38, NAB)
I’ve often realized that sometimes the sacred Scriptures get quite “dull” to me, and I think the reason is that for all the “this and that” over Scripture, it is and will always be a collection of stories about real people and their interactions with each other and with God. The Scriptures are not a formulaic self-help manual, they are real stories about a Real God Who is ever-present in the stories, the history, and even to this day.
I love the Gospels for this precise reason: they are stories of the Jesus the Messiah interacting with people and they are also narratives of how the men around Him (who would become the Apostles) interpreted and experienced Jesus. It is also why I love the Book of Acts, because it tells how, once the holy Spirit came upon the Apostles and disciples, that they (like Jesus) began to speak and act with authority…the authority of God.
When I think about Jesus, I often forget or deny His humanness (back in the day that was a named heresy with punishment being excommunication and a hot party of one on a burning stake!). Yes, Jesus was utterly and completely human, and he was filled with the Spirit and power. And what did he do with his Spirit-filled power: he used it to go about “doing good” and healing all those who were oppressed. Now, how many of us can say if we had “power” that this is what we would do? Be honest…
And when I look around at way too many of my fellow Christians, I am often left wondering and amazed at just how power hungry some God mongerers are. Wouldn’t it be grand if most of “Christendom” and all the professed followers of Jesus were known more for going around doing good and healing the oppressed rather than what most of Christians are known for today? Gay bashing, gun-toting, political reactionary close-mindedness, narcissistic self-help pedagogies promoting earthly riches. The list goes on…
Truly, I feel that if Jesus came back today, we would lock Him out of our churches: how dare He hang out with whores, drug addicts, money-launderers, and those people who smell funny and talk to themselves when they walk down the street. Can you hear it? Just exactly who does this Jesus think He is? How dare Him. Well, He’ll mess up my agenda. He might mess with my Constitutional Rights! He’ll offend the neighbors…
Blah, blah, blah. Yes, Jesus will mess with you! For going around doing good and healing the oppressed got Jesus killed! He did not win some local civic award, the Nobel Prize, nor did He get 1 million hits on His YouTube viral video or have the most friends on Facebook. He got strung up on a tree for following the leading of the Spirit and doing good and healing the oppressed and challenging the religious and political authorities claim to power through the power of God’s love.
I’d like to be all pious and sanctimonious and say I want to be like Jesus. Well, I do, just without the Cross. I do want to be filled with the Spirit and go about doing good and being a source of God’s healing for the oppressed. But I am afraid because those who love God and the poor often times suffer the same fate as the poor.
What will the stories be about me when I die? Will I be known for going about doing good? Will you be known about going around doing good? What legacy are we leaving?
The question is: Am I out there going about doing good and healing the oppressed in the power of the holy Spirit?
How about you and your Church?