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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Let's imagine a creative future with God and each other together. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Admitting Defeat, accepting suffering--this is the Christian way

Last night as I was watching DarkwoodBrew (this is an internet worship service on Sundays at 5 pm check out the link on the right), I was reminded of an important point: We have no idea what Jesus means, and we would be well to admit that defeat, and accept whatever suffering it entails.

In reading the Bible at DarkwwodBrew, this line came up "Thomas said to him, 'Lord, we don''t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?'" (John 14.5) This is one of the lines that make Thomas my favorite disciple (his story of going to bring Christianity to India and the Far East is even better, and don't get me started on his "doubt.") Look at what he's saying in this story: 1) Jesus, although you may know what you're doing, we don't, so why do you keep asking us if we do? 2) Since we don't know what you're doing, it's kind of tough for us to help plan the day. A little clarity would go a long way towards helping here. (Jesus demurs.) 3) Even though we don't know, can't help, or really do much but wander around with you, we will stick with you. (And the disciples do, although they are a bit confused about how to proceed after Jesus is crucified. Eventually, though, they figure out a plan.)

This is precisely why this story interests me so much. We often hear proclamations from Christian leaders that they KNOW what is going to happen, or they have SEEN the future, or God has DELIVERED unto them some special knowledge. Yet, one of the first followers of Jesus, the founder of Christianity for everyone east of Jerusalem (at least according to myth) flat-out admits he has no clue, and neither do the others. What's the difference?

Thomas knew he was going to lose...the false prophets of today admit no such reality. Christianity is for losers, people who suffer, and people who are not going to win. If you are rich, powerful, and strong, or if you aspire to those things you can be much, but you can't be a Christian. Or, at least, a Christian like St. Thomas. Because what makes Thomas different from so many Christian leaders is not that he was humble (many are), it was not because he was so honest (many are), but because he knew, somewhere in the dark recesses of his heart, that this following of Jesus was not going to end well. Thomas was able to admit defeat, able to accept his suffering because he believed in God, and what God was doing through his friend Jesus.

For those of you out there looking for Christian leaders to follow you would do well to remember Thomas and the example he leaves us. Look for a leader who can admit defeat, who can accept suffering, and in spite of all that still believe in God. It's no great trick to believe in God when you have a $1,000,000. Try believing in God when your children don't have any food to eat. That's when you know you've met a person of faith.

May your tables be full, and your conversations be true.

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