Pastoral Relief and Retreat

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Wethersfield, CT, United States
I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.

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Friday, February 6, 2009

February 3, 2009 Politics

READ: Matthew 11:1-19
11:1
When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.

2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers [1] are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 What then did you go out to see? A man [2] dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. 9 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? [3] Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is he of whom it is written,

“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’

11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, [4] and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, [5] let him hear.

16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,

17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” [6]

To say I don't like politics in the church would be an understatement. Inuendo, intrigue, inference, and all the other words beginning with "I" demonstrate how self-centered we humans really are. When John sent his disciples to Jesus with their political question, they were asking on behalf of their leader who was in prison if everything he had done in his ministry had been for naught. "Are you the one we're looking for, or should be look for someone else?"

There's something really horribly disturbing about prophets: they have to be right 100% of the time if they're going to say, "Thus says the Lord." John knew this. He knew who Jesus was. Why then, did his disciples even have to ask? I think Jesus' answer is the key. Notice he doesn't say, "Yea... that's me." In fact, he doesn't reference himself at all. He points to the work of his ministry. "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them." That is the answer to their question. But there's more.

Jesus' next statement is so politically charged we are taken aback by it. "And blessed is the one who is not offended by me." He's saying, "Look, in your hearts you're blaming me for why your leader is in prison. But look at what he is giving his life for: lame beggars walking? The poor having good news preached to them? That's awesome. Don't be upset. John knows." And he goes on to give a testimonial about John that would bless anyone's heart because John went out and DID in response to what he believed.

The reason the church gets all caught up in internal politicking is because we are way too worried that some stand we take will offend someone. So we check out and check out and check out to make sure no one will be upset and by the time we're ready to do ANYTHING we have no heart left to do it at all. John never got in Jesus' way even from prison. Jesus never questioned any of John's actions. Nor does John himself question any of Jesus' actions. What was important to them both was bringing salvation in all its fullness to the people they loved. And that is what Jesus expects us in his church to do.

Jon

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