Last night at Table of Grace, I preached a “what if” sermon, asking along the way…What if I were the friends in the passage (Mark 2:1-12…feel free to stop and read it now if you weren’t there)? What if I were the paralyzed man? What if I were in the group of onlookers? What if…wait for it…what if I was Jesus?
Wait a minute, did I just blaspheme? Can you even say that? I mean, really, is that like calling myself God? It seems a bit like shaky ground. In my own life, though, I feel like that is the place where I have been called to stand…on the shaky ground. It is the ground that Jesus walked on, where he muddied waters, and stirred pots, and challenged establishments. That ground, the ground of status quo and of inequality and injustice, was forever shaken by the life and message of Jesus.
Over and over again throughout the gospels, we have Jesus calling us to follow him. He tells the disciples that they have authority to do all of the things that he is doing, and more. When he left them, no longer to be visibly, physically present with them, he told them that they would have a Spirit that would accompany them always, and that through that Spirit, he, and of course God, would always be with them. I believe that he asked them to take over his place in the stories, to continue his mission, to spread his good news. Therefore, I have decided to start looking at the Biblical text through this lens (along with the collection of others that I have).
Last night I shared a quote from Peter Gomes, author of The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus, among other things. Peter, who passed from this world far too early, last spring, said this: “The question should not be 'What would Jesus do?' but rather, more dangerously, 'What would Jesus have me do?' The onus is not on Jesus but on us, for Jesus did not come to ask semi-divine human beings to do impossible things. He came to ask human beings to live up to their full humanity; he wants us to live in the full implication of our human gifts, and that is far more demanding.” Enough said, right?
What would Jesus have me do? What if Jesus expected me to take seriously the charge to keep doing what he was doing? What if I did? What if you did? What if people began to experience wholeness in body, mind, and spirit because we cared? What if people who were hungry began to experience food security, rather than food insecurity, because we who have shared with those who have not? What if my self-interest began to wane because my concern for others began to fill me in ways that I have never experienced? What if the love of God began to flow through me in the same way that it flowed through Jesus because I began to really follow?
What if, what if, what if. During our children’s moment last night, I asked the children what message they got from the four friends holding on tightly to the ropes and lowering their friend into the middle of the room where Jesus could heal him. The answer that I got came from our daughter, Alexis, who I must say is pretty amazing. She said “you have to hold on tight to your friends until they get what they need.”
Wow. What if we did that? What if our friends did that for us? You know what’s cool? I believe we have friends who would do that. And I feel pretty strongly that we would do that for any of our friends. So I guess the challenge is to go back and ask “what if I’m Jesus?” That just explodes the possibilities, because now everybody is my friend, and everybody is deserving of my care and compassion. What if there was nobody for whom I wasn’t willing to hold on tight, until they got what they needed. That is the goal to which I aspire. Anyone care to join me?
These are my thoughts today, I hope you'll share yours.