I've often wondered what Jesus would say to the church if he came today, rather than two thousand years ago. His first trip in bodily form to earth didn't result in much praise for the religious leaders of the day. Jesus used tough terms with those leaders like: "you are whitewashed tombs; cared for on the outside, but dead on the inside" and "you take care of the letter of the law to the tiniest degree but you have missed the more important matters of mercy and justice." Of course, those religious leaders were so married to their legalism and political work they missed that the Messiah, for whom they had been praying, had come. They thought the political means they were using was God's purpose for them to preserve Jerusalem from destruction, by the Romans; but it only held off the inevitable destruction as the religious leaders totally missed God's plan in their times. Jesus said their "eyes had been blinded and ears closed" by their pursuit of things other than the heart of God.
I believe, were Jesus to come today, his analysis of the church of today would be somewhat similar. The emphasis on living right and following the rules has, in some ways, usurped his grace and New Covenant for us. And our need to be the "enemy of his enemies" has caused us to be at war with people in the world that God would like for us to draw to him with his love and mercy. Too often "blessed are the meek" and "the peacemakers shall inherit the earth" are replaced by legal and political struggles for power with the best of intentions.
I love the Christian church of America passionately and I love God's people. I am excited that we are coming into a season of God showing us how to "Love Well" the world. To that end, I began to pen a novel to plumb the depths of God's heart and his message for the Church in this season. I share today the prologue of that work, and might release a little more from time to time as I am very excited at what God has put in my heart. It has been such a joy to experience God releasing my creativity in a hew way to imagine and to write. I bless your heart for openness to receive what God would share with you through my work and I release your creativity to share God's message in new and unique ways that he has instilled in you.
With all that being said, I give you the Prologue to my upcoming book - "When Joseph Comes to Town: A Modern Day Parable."
The pickup truck flew by the driver’s car at a pace far beyond the legal speed limit and whipped abruptly in front his car on this two-lane road, Highway 20 in Western Oregon. The windshield view of the car was filled by the tailgate of the pickup truck, giving the driver of the car a full view of a tailgate announcing the pickup occupant’s apparent statements of life. These “life mottoes” were proclaimed in bumper stickers for anyone behind the pickup to see as they breathed in the large amount of exhaust escaping from the truck’s tailpipe.
"America, Love it or Leave it!" announced one such bumper sticker adorned with an American flag.
"They can pry my gun from my cold dead hands." said another.
The car’s driver scanned the others with slogans that would seem to indicate Mr. Pickup’s favorite political party and favorite presidential candidate and another that adjusted the name of that candidate’s opponent contorting that name into a swear word.
After scanning all of these, The eyes of the driver in the car were finally drawn to the left corner of the pickup’s bumper which had a plastic fish symbol adhered to it - the symbol of Christianity - signifying that the pickup driver likely espoused Christian beliefs. Right beside the fish was a bumper sticker declaring the acronym "WWJD" which stood for the Christian slogan "What Would Jesus Do" and under that was another sticker displaying the Bible verse 2 Chronicles 7:14 and the paraphrased words from that verse, “If My People Will Pray, I Will Heal Their Land.”
The driver in the car shook his head and let go of a slight laugh. He marveled that not only would a person pair the angry, slanderous and somewhat obscene slogans on the tailgate of the pickup with the stickers and representations on the bumper. Even more, he wondered that the pickup driver would not only think it appropriate to have the Christian symbols and bumper stickers on the same tailgate as the others; but, that, in today’s world, the pickup driver likely thought all these ideas were congruent and linked together.
"If only he would use that passion to announce the Gospel of heaven rather than the messages of earth," Joseph laughed to himself as he held onto his steering wheel. The truck sped away at a pace far beyond his own, but the open space between their two vehicles allowed Joseph to see the sign he remembered from his youth, a sign which told him he had arrived at his destination. The sign read:
Bekering, Oregon - Population 122,017
Right behind that he saw a large wooden standard holding a number of signs that listed all the churches in Bekering. At the top of this standard was a sign larger than all the others which read "We welcome you to our City with Open Arms - the people of The Bekering Christian Center."
Joseph read the sign with interest. He wondered, if that sign would prove to be true once they had met him.