A Grumpy Messiah

Funny the way it is, if you think about it
one kid walks 10 miles to school, another’s dropping out
Funny the way it is, not right or wrong
on a soldier’s last breath his baby’s being born
Funny the way it is, nor right or wrong
Somebody’s broken heart becomes your favorite song
Funny the way it is, if you think about it
A kid walks 10 miles to school, another’s dropping out.

—Dave Mathews Band

I like it when people see things at odd angels.  The lyrics to one of my favorite songs off of Dave Mathew’s latest album reflect the cruel irony of this world.  Irony is a painful thing.

Often the people who are able to do the most end up doing the least.

Politicians talk more than they do.  If they do anything it is always with an eye on how their particular action is going to play with their voters.  I read that the late Robert Novak once said, “I find that politicians as a class are up to no good. Sometimes they accidentally do the right thing.”  Hyperbole?  Maybe. But it underlines the idea that those who can help the most with the ills of this world often have other motives driving their actions.

Take the area of charitable giving. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest survey of consumer expenditure found that the poorest fifth of U.S. households contributed an average of 4.3 percent of their incomes to charitable organizations in 2007. The richest fifth gave at less than half that rate, 2.1 percent.

I have been walking with Jesus for over four decades and if that means anything it should at least mean that I understand the gospel of the Kingdom of God enough to be a healthy ambassador for Christ.  I should be to be able to love somebody tomorrow that I couldn’t love yesterday.  Sin should have less and less hold on me.  I should be able to pray more deeply, speak more truly, rejoice more fiercely, and forgive more freely with every passing year.  But do I?

Why not?

I have members of my family who are choosing to walk away from Jesus not towards him.  I have friends who are not hungry for the things of God.  I know people who seem bereft of any sense of purpose and meaning in their life.  They are questioning if walking in the Way of Christ is worth it at all.

We Christ followers have the best news this sorry, dark world has ever heard.  Are we excited about it?  Are we sharing it?  Are people asking us about it?  The Kingdom of God is available to anyone.  The irony is this:  the good news for me is that Jesus is Lord, the bad news is that that means I am not.  As the rabbi’s wife said to her husband, “There is one Messiah allocated per universe and you are not him.”  When I live like I am Lord and Jesus is just an “add on” then my character doesn’t change and I become more critical, petty, miserly, shallow, and irritated all the time.  Why would anyone want to be in that kingdom with that ‘Lord?’ Who wants a grumpy messiah?  I guess I do.  For when I refuse Jesus Lordship in my life, I assume that role.  I am lord of my little world.  But I don’t want to be this way at my deepest heart.  Not really.  At least not this morning.

I pray the old Puritan prayer:

Lord Jesus, I sin. Grant that I may never cease grieving because of it, never be content with myself, never think I can reach a point of perfection. Kill my envy, command my tongue, trample down self. Give me grace to be holy, kind, gentle, pure, peaceable, to live for Thee and not for self, to copy Thy words, acts, spirit, to be transformed into Thy likeness, to be consecrated wholly to Thee, to live entirely to Thy glory.

Deliver me from attachment to things unclean, from wrong associations, from the predominance of evil passions, from the sugar of sin as well as its gap; that with self-loathing, deep contrition, earnest heart searching I may come to Thee, cast myself on Thee, trust in Thee, cry to Thee, be delivered by Thee.

O God, the Eternal All, help me to know that all things are shadows, but Thou art substance, all things are quicksands, but Thou art mountain, all things are shifting, but Thou art anchor, all things are ignorance, but Thou art wisdom.

If my life is to be a crucible amid burning heat, so be it, but do Thou sit at the furnace mouth to watch the ore that nothing be lost. If I sin wilfully, grievously, tormentedly, in grace take away my mourning and give me music; remove my sackcloth and clothe me with beauty; still my sighs and fill my mouth with song, then give me summer weather as a Christian.

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