Hi everyone. Rob here.
In Christianity we often talk about becoming Christlike. We think that becoming more like Jesus is to become nicer or calmer, more serene. The reality is that becoming more like Jesus is to become a righteous, yet subversive, troublemaker. Jesus managed to upset everybody at some stage. He certainly upset the powers and principalities. he died on a Roman cross after all. He upset religious leaders. He upset many who followed him, including his friends. One of them was so upset with him he betrayed him to the authorities. I don’t know about you but I hate getting into trouble. I hate upsetting people and I hate people being against me. People pleasing has held me back in following Jesus. I need to become more like him who only ever obeyed the Father and was never bound by the opinion of others.
Jesus was only a trouble maker because the powers of the world stood squarely against the kingdom of God that he was announcing. His announcing of the kingdom happened because God loved us so much he sent his Son to bring us the good news of God’s rule. If trouble making isn’t done in the name and power of God’s love then it’s just another self-serving way of being in the world. Trouble making is good if it means challenging the old creation to make way for the new. It’s good if it challenges earthly powers to take note of heavenly mercy.
John Lewis was a hero of the Civil Rights movement of the 60’s who went on to become an effective and well-respected congressman. He was also a friend of Jesus. A couple of years ago he tweeted this:
Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.
What kind of good trouble is the Spirit inviting you and I to get into? I know that I’ve been getting increasing upset by a form of Christianity that keeps God in a box, keeps things in nice tidy categories and by doing so it seems to turn the Good News into bad news. What do I do with the agitation I’ve been feeling? I know that I need to press into it prayerfully, seek wisdom, but also seek courage. Some of you may be feeling the need to stand up for racial justice. Good! The earth itself needs advocates right now. The gap between rich and poor is ridiculous. Maybe it’s to be like Barnabas who stood with Paul (then Saul) and helped him get accepted by the disciples even though he was trying to kill them not that long before. Maybe you need to stand alongside someone and let the consequences fall. I don’t know but I do know that God knows the good trouble we need to get into.
It’s a time for the friends and followers of Jesus to become more like him. We become obedient to God’s words and free from the influencing power of words that don’t belong to him. We advocate for God’s kingdom and let the world (or the church, your family, your organisation) feel the weight of who we are in Christ.
Grace and peace everyone.