In The Darkness of a Prison Cell

I have not blogged in 10 months.  Let's not belabor that point and just pretend that it's been a few weeks...:)

As a Community Developer, I read and study A LOT about dignified service to the poor. Dr. Robert Lupton has taught me so much of what I practice daily.  I was reading Lupton's monthly newsletter about John The Baptist and his last few hours chained up in a prison before he was beheaded.

Lupton muses that John was convinced that Jesus was the Messiah and that He would set up a new, just government. But things weren't looking good and if Jesus didn't hurry up John might be in real trouble. He wrote,
"But the reports that John was receiving were not encouraging.  The Anointed One was spending much of His time among the insignificant populace and making no moves at all to consolidate power.  A grass roots campaign might be effective if it were skillfully orchestrated but the word John was receiving was that Jesus was alienating a disturbing number of people, including many of the religious leadership. Unless He began to move in a more authoritative manner and organize an effective power base, His Kingdom campaign might never get traction. And that could be disastrous for John – for all of Israel, yes, but it was John’s head that was on the block."

I resonate so much with both Jesus and John in this story. 

Jesus, because I spend a lot of time with the "insignificant populace" and I have most definitely done my share of alienating religious leaders.  Coming from institutional mega-church leadership, I sometimes miss the days where I felt more "significant" or "successful".  But I am reminded each day by the most unlikely of people that it is the most unlikely of places that I can find Jesus.  Seeing this similarity between Jesus and I feels good.

But I also resonate with John. Many days I feel trapped in a prison set up by our culture that says the current culture of service is just fine, thank you very much. That doing things for the poor is okay and that engaging their talents is not necessary. I feel bound by not having the resources to do the work I believe God called and gifted me for. And I feel confused why Jesus doesn't handle things the way I thought he would or spend His time gathering momentum for my "radical revolution in the Church".  Hanging out with drug addicts, prostitutes and criminals might sound courageous but lately, I have found myself overwhelmed with the strange ways of the Kingdom...that the first will be last and the last will be first.  When?!  When will the suffering, lost and rejected be honored?

It takes articles like this one from Bob to help me see myself in a proper light. The light shows me that I can be proud that the Spirit is maturing me and that my love for the poor and forgotten is beautiful and right. But the light simultaneously reveals my doubt in Jesus' messianic abilities, my unhealthy propensity to cling to my own theology or belief systems. 

I pray that like John I would have the courage to pour myself out for the sake of this crazy, mysterious Healer.  Some days I have the strength to do this.  Other days, it feels like having that kind of faith would kill me.  Perhaps it is in this kind of "death" that I will stumble upon a new kind of grace that sustains me. 
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