this past weekend i was on the refuge camping trip at jackson lake. it is was our 6th annual & is a cornerstone tradition in our community. one of my favorite parts of the weekend is baptism. each aspect of it is just so beautiful—witnessed in community, a clear marker on an often very unclear spiritual journey, and a public sign of transformation and hope.
i shared the story of the blind man who Jesus healed in john 9. i have written about it here in a post called practical theology. and it came back to me in these past few weeks. it’s a reminder that while the religious leaders were haggling about theological correctness & the sources of sin, Jesus was healing people. the people being healed couldn’t give a rip about theology or doctrine. what they cared about–healing & change.
it made me think of why i am so passionate about change in “the church” and how desperate the world is for little pockets of love. in down we go, i say “the world is not aching for new knowledge; there’s plenty of that to last many lifetimes. the world is aching for people to be Jesus’ hands, feet, eyes, and heart, and go boldly where he goes–to those on the margins of life and faith.”
the world is crying out for hope while we’re talking about theology.
while we spend countless hours on the ins and outs of homosexuality possibly being a sin and women not being able to lead and who’s in and who’s out related to heaven and hell, the world is crying out for hope. people are dying–literally and figuratively–and we are spending millions of dollars & hours & blog posts & sermons and all kinds of other things that focus on “correct theology.” honestly, sometimes it feels like a travesty. a dark comedy that mocks us all. a telling example of how even though it’s 2,000 years later, we’re still in much of the same place the religious leaders were then–focused on the outside of the cup because it’s much easier than the inside.
why do we spend so much time talking about theology instead of actively being the hands, feet, heart, and eyes of Jesus?
i think it’s because it’s easier. safer. more predictable. human nature clings to the path of least resistance. it’s far easier to talk about the meaning of a bible verse than it is to share hearts and slog through the muck and mire of real transformation in people’s lives.
the less i focus on “right” theology, the more i seem to be free to love.
it’s a wild thing. and a scary thing. my evangelometer sometimes goes off, telling me, “you better back that up with some kind of perfect bible verse”. but then i remember the story of the blind man Jesus healed. and i reflect on the powerful stories of transformation and hope i am seeing in my own life & the lives of my friends in community. authentic, sacrificial love is compelling. i look into the eyes and hearts of my friends who don’t have the “right” words about scripture & theological principles & doctrinal statements, yet, are some of the most loving, caring, brave, beautiful people i have ever met. and just to top it off, they are being the hands, feet, eyes, and hearts of Jesus in more tangible ways than i can count.
yeah, my hope for the church is that we’d quit haggling about things that don’t matter, that we’d lay down our guns & bible verses & all kinds of other things we use to protect us from the tangled mess of loving relationship with other people. and that each of us, in however way we need to, will be a tangible part of helping heal the blind, feed the hungry, and love the lonely.
God, show us how to be vessels of transformation & hope.