Friday, January 19, 2007

Don't Be Church People: Thoughts on Luke 4

Luke 4:14-30: The Synagogue People

The synagogue people thought all along that Messiah was coming to them, and for them. And furthermore, they had heard the scuttlebutt that this Jesus bar Joseph may just be the One. Imagine their surprise, then, when they hear the list Jesus reads them (v. 18). It is a list that describes the people Jesus has been anointed to serve:
- the poor,
- the captives,
- the blind,
- the oppressed.
And, via his reference to the Hebrew scriptures (vv. 25-27):
- the foreigners,
- the widows,
- the lepers.

“Hey,” said the synagogue people, “We don’t hear ‘synagogue people’ on your list, Jesus.”
JC replied, “That’s right.”
“But what do you know, carpenter boy?” they fired back, thinking, “He must not be Messiah, after all. How could he be, since WE didn’t make the list?”
In fact, the absence of the synagogue people from the list made them so mad that they decided to throw Jesus right over the cliff, out of their lives forever.
***
How many times do we, realizing that Jesus is here for more than just “us,” try to throw him over the cliff and out of our lives forever?
- By the way, “US” = people who look like me, act like me, think like me, share my morals, speak my language, believe what I believe, are in my age group, have my same sexual orientation, earn an amount of money similar to mine, are of similar skin color, and so forth.

Of course, the synagogue people in Luke 4 threw Jesus only out of their own lives; they did not deter his mission. Up at the top of that cliff, Jesus walked right through the midst of them and went on his way (v. 30). And, presumably, the synagogue people went right on being synagogue people, and missed the whole thing.

Let’s not be “church people,” thinking that Jesus is somehow “ours,” came to “us,” is here for “us,” saves “us” from “our” sins – all of which presumes a “them” and a “they” for whom Jesus did not come: the “not-church people.” Remember the list: poor, captives, blind, oppressed, foreigners, widows, lepers. The ones whom the world forgets, Jesus remembers. Our inability to grasp the scope of the Messiah’s mission will not deter it, but it may mean that we miss the whole thing.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, if I understand your statement correctly. All people who go to church should stop going because God is not here for us. Silly me, I always thought Jesus came to the world to save ALL the world if only we would accept Christ as our personal Savior. Thank you for the enlightenment.

Andy B. said...

Actually, Anonymous, you do not understand my statement correctly. I wrote, "Jesus is here for more than just 'us,'" which, if I remember my grammar correctly, implies that he is here for us, too.

Adam Caldwell said...

weak...dude doesn't have the balls to sign his name...weak

Andy B. said...

Hey Adam - careful with the language, man. This is a family blog.

Kyle in KC said...

Sadly we live in an age where we it appears we have been conditioned to look for any grasp of a straw to change the message away from anything that might be hard to do. In the past month the book of Luke has become very alive to me.

Larry B said...

Let’s not be “church people,” thinking that Jesus is somehow “ours,” came to “us,” is here for “us,” saves “us” from “our” sins – all of which presumes a “them” and a “they” for whom Jesus did not come.

I think I understand what you are trying to get at here. However, I think it's not unfounded to consider the Church proper as Jesus's representative to the world in his physical absence. As such it can be important for the Church to have discussions that may appear on the face of it as though they own Jesus. It's imperative that the Church offer a true Jesus to those "outside" the church now.

Sometimes those terms you used to define the collective "us" would have been clearly defined by Jesus. For example while my morals may not agree with someone elses, clearly Jesus had no problem excluding certain people from the kingdom based on their morality. The way to the Kingdom is even described as narrow. Thus there can be some legitimate boundaries that really should be considered.

Dave in NKC said...

Church is not exclusive and I think Jesus was trying to tell the 'synagogue' people that. Jesus came for all of us, even the poor, oppressed, etc. and he wants all of us to remember that. 'Church' people aren't better than anyone else. We are all part of God's kingdom. Jesus (and Andy) are just trying to help keep us mere humans on track.

John said...

I find it best not to even answer anonymous comments at all.

There is definitely no 'us' and 'them'. Before the holiness of God, we're all 'them'.