The central question for Abraham was never, “Are you circumcised?” The central question was, “Is your circumcision a reflection of walking blamelessly and faithfully before God?” The central question for the church, then, is, “In doing these things [baptism, accepting Jesus, or taking Communion] are they expressions of faithfulness and an awareness and a pursuit of the terms and conditions of a covenant relationship with God?” It is not, “Do you call yourself a Christian?” It is, “Do you live a life worthy of that name?”
When I was in 8th grade, my family lived for a bit in some low income apartments. The apartment complex was formed in a square with a decent sized courtyard in the middle. In the courtyard was where all the dramatic action was – this is where kids got in fistfights with each other, where drug deals happened after dark, and where about once a week there would be a screaming match between two random people. Sometimes it would be spouses, sometimes neighbors, sometimes just two drunk people who had nothing better to do.
Compassion comes from a deliberate identification with another person until we see things as he sees them, and feel things as she feels them. That’s the place to which God seeks to bring all of us.
"Every time you think you’re the only honest person left, every time you think there are no good men or no good women left, God who is the One and Only whispers back: You’re NOT the only one. The One And Only has the ideal number of people to surround you, to advise you, to walk alongside you, to make you realize that there are a lot more trustworthy people than you realize because God is at work in every life on the planet!"
But before ending this description of the good shepherd, Jesus adds one more quality. The good shepherd, the true shepherd, realizes that there are other sheep besides the ones that are most visible. There are other sheep ... for if we are of Jesus' flock, we too have other sisters and brothers.
The Holy Spirit awakens the total reserve of human nature. It hones our energies and capacities, empowering us to fulfill our God-appointed mission in life.
He is saying that those who get it will be the ones who realize we’re nothing by ourselves that what we want most from life won’t happen if we think we have to do it ourselves. It will happen when we let the One Who Is Enough serve us as Lord, and Messiah, and Friend.
I understand these people better than I want to admit. I know what it means to become so focused on the work and the politics and the systems and the next big book that’s going to tell us how to really do it right, that I can forget what Jesus is capable of and why he’s filled me with the Holy Spirit and what he’s called me to do. Somehow (I’m sure this is not the correct theological language), it seems like the Spirit leaks out. Or maybe I push him out. I know it has happened when I find myself telling God how big my storm is, rather than telling my storm how big my God is.
Today, in Houston, Texas, friends and family of Bishop Sarah Frances Davis are gathered in sorrow, thanksgiving and joy. They are gathered in sorrow,...
How shall we struggle to identify what keeps us rooted and grounded in our shared covenant even when we are not in agreement? How shall we “hang in there” with each other - not in spite of, but because of our different views? We share deep roots. Our Wesleyan heritage is rich and grounds us deeply in the love of God and love of neighbor. We share deep roots and from what I’ve noticed over the last fifteen months, our branches spread wide.