The most underlined and finger-smudged part of the Bible is 2 Opinions 3:1-22. Faux pearls of wisdom swing from this necklace of verses.
Here we read, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, whenever you see a brother caught in a trespass, post about it on Facebook." And, "By this will all men know that you are my disciples: when you fight one another."
Near the end of John’s Gospel, we find seven words that would make a world of difference in the church.
Here’s my personal favorite, "If anyone lacks wisdom, let him pray that the Spirit shows him exactly what’s best for other people."
That verse reminds me of something that Alan Jacobs pointed out at the Mockingbird Conference in NYC this last week. Near the end of John’s Gospel, we find seven words that would make a world of difference in the church.
It’s post-Easter and Peter’s chatting up Jesus. And one thing he’s just dying to know is what’s gonna happen to his buddy John. "Will he die soon? Live till you return? Pen a really weird book full of multi-eyed beasts and red dragons and whores? What’s God doing in John’s life?" Inquiring minds want to know.
Jesus turns to Mr. Curiosity and speaks these seven words, "What is that to you? Follow me!"
In the Southern Momma Translation of the New Testament, that’s "Shut up and mind your own business, boy. Keep your eyes on Me!"
I don’t know about you, but I can think of about 5 gazillion ways that would make life in the church a lot less ugly. Who knows? It might even make it a more hospitable, loving, caring place to hear the Gospel.
You know how we roll. Often we catch a fleeting glimpse into a pinprick moment of a person’s very big and long and complicated life, and assume we know precisely what’s best for them in their walk with God. When that happens, let's remember these seven words: "What is that to you? Follow me!"
One of the wisest epiphanies we can experience is that we’re not half as wise as we like to think we are.
We scan a news story or hear a report about what’s happening in another denomination, another ministry, another church, and we’ve got a list of what’s wrong and how to make it right (all the while our own church, denomination, or ministry is punch-drunk stupid with problems). When that happens, let's remember these seven words: "What is that to you? Follow me!"
One of the wisest epiphanies we can experience is that we’re not half as wise as we like to think we are. We’re blinded by prejudices, deafened by the screams of our conscience, and numbed by life experiences that often leave us cynical and self-absorbed. We’re not the most trustworthy guides. In fact, I suspect the truly wise among us are as rare as people who don’t carry cell phones.
Every day we make little choices. But they matter. Like: Is this (fill in the blank) any of my business? Is my own life in order? Have I cleaned the skeletons out of my own closet? Am I anyone to criticize? Do I know enough to even begin to poke my nose into this person’s troubles or challenges or sins?
Isn’t life already hard enough without wading, unwanted and unasked, into the swamp of someone else’s life when it has nothing to do with us?
Follow me! Jesus says. Sometimes, yes, that will mean trailing him smack dab into someone else’s messy life who wants and needs our help. Very true. But all the time it’ll mean following him into a life of love and joy, peace and patience, kindness and goodness, gentleness and faithfulness and self-control. In the Jesus culture, those things never go out of style.
Following him will also mean keeping our eyes locked on him so unswervingly that we don’t have the time or energy to be standing on tiptoes, peeping over fences into other people’s troubles and struggles.
"What is that to you? Follow me!" Those seven words would make a world of difference in the church. And come to think of it, they’d also make a church of difference in the world. And that’s even better.