Friday, November 11, 2016

I can drink the wine, but can I drink from the cup?

"For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

It is no surprise to those of you who know me or have visited in the past that this week provided some deep disappointment for me.  My candidate did not win.  And a big buck decided to lay down between the shrubs in the back of my house and die, wedging himself against the foundation, his adolescent rack  preventing his removal from behind the shrubs like a fish hook caught in the weeds.  He was so rotten by the time I figured out what that horrible smell was I could not just move him without him busting wide open.  Both events stink, at least from where I sit. You may think the election results smell sweet, but I think we can all agree about the stench of a rotting carcass.  So there's hope for unity after all. For the first time in awhile I am chilling on the sofa, enjoying some quiet and Merlot, listening to some tunes, and conversing with God.  It is nice.   

For many Christians this week, their helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17) sports a "Make America Great Again" logo.  I must admit, I am one of "those" who are concerned about the slogan "Make America Great Again"  ®DT.   But if we are the Christian nation we pretend to be, maybe it's not a bad idea.

What would Jesus say to me about my judgment about the slogan?  Or to someone who celebrates its message?

He wouldn't let either of us get away with it.

I think Jesus would create unity between us by teaching us each a lesson in humility, which is one of his best gifts.  He might say something like, "In worship every Sunday you sing to God 'How Great Thou Art' or if you like that contemporary stuff 'How Great is Our God.' So Bob, are you saying that greatness is not a good thing when you sing those words about Us being great.  Is greatness necessarily a bad thing?"

"Well, of course not, Jesus, that is not what I meant," I might respond. "I just . . . nevermind. I know how these conversations go with you, Jesus."  It is not always easy to be in a relationship with One who is always right.

"And you with that cap on your head and that grin on your face," Jesus might continue, "there is no need to re-invent the wheel here.  Have you read the red letter parts of the Bible, you know, the things I said?  You want to be great? You want America to be great now? Two of my disciples, the sons of Zebedee, James and John, brought it up constantly. They kept wanting to know if they could sit at my right and my left, which they felt would be the greatest seats in the house,  when I came into my Kingdom, bless their hearts.  Their mother even came and asked me to let them. I told them:

 “You don’t know what you are asking, Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” 

"I said that in Matthew 20:22," Jesus might continue. "You may want to read the whole chapter.  In fact, let me share it with both of you.  It's more of the red words."

24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Jesus might continue, "Desiring to be great is not the problem. Defining what it means to be great is your problem.  Like I said in Luke 9:48, 'For it is the one who is least among y'all who is the greatest.'  That is the way I define greatness. To become great you must become least.  I defined the least quite a bit.  How did I define the least?"

"The poor, the orphaned, the widow, the lonely, the outcast, the stranger in your land, the sick, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the children, the oppressed," Jesus might explain. "These are the least.  I said it many times. In red letters.  You can start with Matthew 25 and go from there. "To be great, you must become like them. Maybe even become them sometimes."

"So make America great, America.  It's not a bad thing.  It's a great thing. The most beautiful thing ever, as far as I'm concerned. But I need to know, can you drink from that cup?"

I don't know whether Jesus would really say that to us tonight.  I for sure know he would say it more plainly.  In fact, He already has. In the red letters.

It would be great if we could try Jesus' way.  

It's the least we can do.


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