“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 lives of the people, the stories, the history, and still to this day.
I love the Gospels for this precise reason: they are stories of Jesus the Messiah interacting with people and they are also narratives of how the people around Him interpreted and experienced Jesus. That is one reason 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 of God: a balance of Love and Truth.
When I think about Jesus, I often forget or deny His humanness. 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?
And when I look around at many 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 the “true 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 now: gay bashing, gun-supporting, reactionary close-mindedness, and narcissistic self-help pedagogies promoting earthly riches. The list goes on…
I truly feel that if Jesus were alive today, He would be locked out of most churches. I can hear the gossip now: “how dare He hang out with prostitutes, drug addicts, money-launderers, the dirty, the unclean…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…”
Damn right Jesus will mess with you! And so He should. He is the Lord and Messiah, not any one doctrine or the views of people. Understand this: going around doing good and healing the oppressed got Jesus executed! Going around spreading God’s messy grace lavishly on those whom society thought unworthy offended all the religious and powerful people of His day. Jesus did not win some local civic award or the Nobel Prize, nor did He get 1 million hits on His YouTube viral video or have the most friends on Facebook. He touched the untouchable, loved the unlovable, and forgave the supposedly unforgivable.
He got strung up on a tree for following the leading of the Spirit, for doing good, for healing the oppressed and for challenging the religious and political authorities claim to power through the only Real Power: God’s passionate love for humanity.
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.
So I ask myself (not in ego, but in truth): what will the stories be about me when I die? Will I be known for going about loving Jesus and doing good? Will you be known for going about doing good?
What legacy am I leaving? The kingdom of Niles or the Kingdom of God?
The question is: Am I out there going about loving Jesus and doing good? How about you and your Church?