Thursday, July 16, 2015

Desperate to please

Frank Honeycutt, pastor and author of The Truth Shall Make You Odd, writes that we should "Keep Jesus weird":
A pastor once lost a couple of prospective church members when he refused to let them have their wedding exactly the way they wanted. They told him, “Well, we were thinking of joining your church before this happened.”

We often live in fear of those moments, moments when we may lose people or turn them off. Because of that we sometimes bend over backward to please people, desperate to make them feel welcome and eager to postpone or avoid any conversation about what the gospel or a church commitment might require of them.

Whenever I think about this tendency toward discipleship dilution, I think about Nicodemus and his evening encounter with Jesus.

Nicodemus slips out during the night and taps at Jesus’ door. Maybe they end up sitting in the kitchen, sipping hot tea, just the two of them. The first words out of the mouth of Nicodemus are words of flattery. “Gosh, rabbi, you’re one heck of a teacher. Nobody could do what you do without a powerful connection to God. You’re the real thing, man.” Nicodemus is obviously interested in learning more about Jesus.

But watch what Jesus does, or maybe what Jesus doesn’t do. He could’ve invited Nicodemus to the equivalent of a church picnic the next afternoon to meet some nice Christians. He could have acknowledged Nicodemus’s compliments and played up his own heavenly credentials. He could have talked about exactly how many new followers were traveling with him those days. And he could have handed Nicodemus a nice multicolored brochure that would summarize his teachings in five nonthreatening, easily remembered points.

Jesus does none of these things. Jesus ignores the flattery and goes straight for the theological jugular to talk about conversion. .... [more]