Friday, November 5, 2010
Mercy, Not Religion
I love my church.
I love that we come close to God there, led by women and men and children.
I love that we are family, that there are many folks there who remember the days when Todd and I stood at the front of the sanctuary amongst the other new parents, dedicating our squirmy babies to God.
That the congregation has helped us raise those squirmy babies, loving them through their fidgety stages, getting to know what's fun for them and what kind of people they want to be. Teaching my children by example about what it means to serve God.
I love that we welcome EVERYONE.
And I love that when my daughter was 15, she once said she wished everybody could be like the people at church.
I thank God for my church. Some days I wish I could dip my wand in the soap water and make a bubble around my church and live in it.
But yesterday, the bubble burst. Again.
It's Matthew 9's fault. I've been studying the gospels, as told by The Message, a version that never ceases to make the Bible new to me, that presents the stories in a way that perks up my ears and has me scrambling for other translations, wondering if Jesus really said that.
In the passage I was reading, Jesus was having supper at Matthew's (the tax collector's) house and was hanging out with all sorts of disreputable characters. The religious leaders had a fit,
and lit into Jesus' followers. "What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?" Jesus, overhearing, shot back, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: 'I'm after mercy, not religion.' I'm here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders."
Matthew 9:11-13, The Message
Mercy, not religion. I'm here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.
Do I ever ask to be coddled?
Do I waste time debating who are the real Christians and who is just a bunch of hot air or meanness, when I should be on the street, inviting outsiders to the table?
Do I get too wrapped up in the mechanics of church and organization when there's work to be done?
Mercy to be given.
What is really important to God?
Jesus makes it clear.
It's just the reminder I needed.
Have a wonder-full weekend, y'all! I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Photo by darkmatter, licensed through creative commons.