The complexity of Jesus-ing…


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I like to keep things simple – but sometimes it’s good to bask in the complexity of something…  Following Jesus sounds simple, and having the intention to do so is simple too but the “doing” can be complicated.  Here’s a real life example I’ve been thinking about: there was an old (non-English speaking) church in what became a predominantly black neighborhood somewhere in the U.S (not in NY).  The immigrants had moved in at one point, made money and gradually moved to nicer suburbs, but the church meeting place remained.  Every Sunday hundreds of people came to this neighborhood to worship in the church building, then they drove home to nicer neighborhoods…

One Sunday some local kids tried to rob a car leaving the church late in the afternoon and killed a man in the church parking lot.  Shock, dismay, grief, anger filled the church community…  But eventually God gave them the desire to respond in a Jesus-like way…

This particular church decided to open a free after-school tutoring center for the neighborhood children during the week.  They filled classrooms with books and computers and hired experienced volunteers to come teach college prep and help with homework…  This was the most Jesus-like response they could come up with.  And it’s probably better than I would have done… But it was not well received in the neighborhood, and the after school program closed down shortly after.

Some other Christians saw this and thought the whole plan was condescending…  They saw the Jesus-like response as something else.  So a few of them decided to move in to the neighborhood where the church was located, to invest in the community with their presence, and their tax money, and by learning to be part of the community as representatives for Jesus…  They went to work as they did before, they went to movies, bought things, did things as they did before – only now they were doing it all in this depressed neighborhood – while trying to be good neighbors and a beacon of light for Jesus.  They figured if Jesus can come down from heaven to live with us – He didn’t commute from heaven, but lived where we lived, suffered what we suffered, and made miracles happen…  then the least we can do is move in to this neighborhood and try to follow him there.

It took me a while to see what was so “condescending” about the after school program.  But I guess it basically said to the people of the neighborhood, “we’re smarter than you, and we can help you, but we don’t want to live with you.”  Anyway – lots of people hear this and throw their hands up and think “great, then what’s the point of even trying to do anything Jesus-like?”  But I see it as a reminder that we need to be really humble about what we think and do – because sometimes it turns out that even our best intentioned things are a little messed-up…  So we do our best humbly – until we realize there’s something better…

Related posts:

  1. “Borrowed” Comic of the Day
  2. Where you live…
  3. One way to do community…
  4. How Jesus was different…
  5. Jesus’ Tribe (recap)
  6. Learning to be Jesus’ Tribe…
  7. The Inner Life of Jesus [Sunday]
  8. Are you following Jesus or having Jesus follow You?

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