A writer once noted that we struggle to engaged with the Sacred (John Dominic Crossan) because we really are not ready to go where Sacred demands we go.
Sacred ways are radical ways.
As humans we do not like the radical.
I want my life normal please!
Maybe with a touch of excitement or passion, but not too much.
Which is why, perhaps, we often take the radicality of God and turn it into the normalcy of the world.
We human creatures have always done this! From the beginning!
We have struggled to go with God.
To engage in God’s new thing.
Always it seems, whenever the newness of God breaks through,
we soon manage to domesticate it.
The people of Israel were given a land, and told to flourish.
They were given a chance to be something different, a “holy” nation guided and sustained by Love. They chose to be like “all the other nations”, with hierarchies (Kings) and all the oppressive structures so common to human creatures.
They chose to become a country where the rich got richer and oppressed the poor.
Where injustice became common.
(read a prophet, any prophet for details).
The radical idea of a land flowing with milk and honey some was lost.
It is even more obvious with Jesus.
Sell all you have and give to the poor!
Turn the other cheek.
Honor the poor.
Fight for justice.
Feed the hungry.
Welcome the stranger.
Do not call those unclean whom God has called clean.
Be a radical new “people of God”.
It took no time at all for those who claimed to follow Jesus to stop following.
Even Paul, Apostle of the heart set free was soon putting limits on God’s unlimited love.
(you can’t pretend he doesn’t)
And now today.
The blessed Rachel Held Evans once wrote, “I have come to regard with some suspicion those who claim that the Bible never troubles them. I can only assume this means they haven’t actually read it.”
Have we really read the beatitudes? Really listened to the parables of Jesus?
Have we really taken seriously the radical demands of God?
Where is the generosity?
Where is the inclusion?
Where is the passion for the common good?
People claiming to champion “family values” and “god” have doubled down on greed,
domination (and worse oppression),
and toxic individualism.
We are nowhere close to living out the radicality of God.
(At least I know I am not).
The solution is not a matter of “trying harder.”
We should know by now that trying harder won’t work!
The solution is putting Jesus, the real Jesus (not the one we have created) at the center.
Which to me simply means this.
I give Jesus more power to shape my thinking, my feeling, my living, than anyone or anything else.
We can’t follow Jesus if we are following Donald Trump, or anyone else.
We can’t follow Jesus if our allegiance is to a political party, more than it is to love.
We aren’t following Jesus if we are letting our society determine our priorities and values.
Jesus has to be (as the song goes) our “all in all”.
Jesus rarely is.
I am preaching to myself here.
But I am pleading to you.
To all of us.
We have to get back on the road.
We have to leave behind everything, and follow.
We have to let God set us free from our slavery, and go into newness.
(with out constantly trying to “go back to Egypt)
We have to invest radically in the radical way of God,
or we will get lost in the normalcy of the world.
And we know all to well what that looks like!
Three Dollars Worth of God (by Wilbur Rees)
I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.
Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep,
but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk
or a snooze in the sunshine.
I don’t want enough of God
to make me love a black man
or pick beets with a migrant.
I want ecstasy, not transformation.
I want warmth of the womb, not a new birth.
I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack.
I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please