Monday, April 23, 2012

Dangerous Jesus

I decided to focus a little more on the first reading from Sunday, Acts 3:12-19, though all the readings on Sunday had a theme of witness.  

Enjoy.  --oh and fair warning, I'm a little snarky in how I try to ignite the congregation to witness to Jesus in their lives. 

In our first reading from Acts, Peter derides the people gathered about how they killed Jesus and meanwhile let a murder go free.  And we think back to Palm Sunday, and Good Friday as we hear the cries of the crowd asking for Barabbas and the echoes of “Crucify him, crucify him” coming from those gathered at Jesus’ trial.  Now this has often made no sense to many Christians.  Why would the crowds want a murder to be set free and meanwhile ask, demand, yell, shout, that Jesus, the messiah, whom we worship, the Lord and Savior who healed the sick and cared for the poor to be sentenced to capital punishment on the cross?

But Jesus can be dangerous!  For a murder you know what he did, and we don’t know the circumstances of Barabbas, did he kill a Roman guard who first attacked him in self-defense?  Did he kill someone there was a long standing feud with but most of the time he is a nice guy?  I doubt that Barabbas was a psychopathic serial killer.  And so the crowds probably did not think that their lives were in any danger by letting him, a convicted murder, go free.  But Jesus could endanger their lives.

If Jesus was set free, what would happen?  They, the followers of Jesus, could be tried and killed for going against the government.  They could be moved to give away their goods to those more in need.  They could be compelled to leave their families, their community, and their livelihood and follow this itinerant preacher.  They could be persuaded to understand that faith is more that about individual salvation and personal good deeds. They could be convinced that this world, this life that they are leading, is not good enough and God has a better plan, but it requires them doing something about it.  And that is why Jesus is dangerous.

Jesus is dangerous.  Jesus is dangerous because he calls us out of our comfort zones.  Jesus is dangerous because he calls us to think about the greater good, to think about the care of people who are not us.  Jesus is dangerous because he calls to not just acknowledge the poor, the widow, the sick, the orphan, the disenfranchised, the outcast but to care for them.  Jesus is dangerous. 

And so we keep him locked up.  We keep Jesus in this sanctuary, we keep it so that only the pastor is supposed to talk about him.  We, as this congregation, and as the greater church, make it the pastor’s responsibility to evangelize, to witness to others, to invite others to worship, to grow the congregation.  Well guess what?  That is not my job! 

We are all called to be witnesses to Jesus.  We are all called to tell others about his life, his death, his resurrection and how he lives in our lives today.  You are called to be a witness to others.  You are called to let this dangerous Jesus out.  To let him live in your life even if it gets you in trouble.  You are called to let this dangerous Jesus out of this sanctuary, out of this building and into your daily life. Witnessing to Jesus in our lives and telling others about his word is a job greater than any one person can do alone, which is why that is not my job alone. 

It is not my job alone to be the one who grows this congregation, to spread Jesus’ message to others in Redding, Wilton, Weston, Ridgefield and beyond.  That is your job. My job is just to support you, to care for you, to nurture you, to pray for your efforts.  My job is to ignite you to go out and be a witness, to hear Jesus’s words from today’s gospel “you are witnesses of these things” Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and current place in our lives today.  And it your job to let this dangerous Jesus out, into your home, into your work place, into your community, into your whole life. Yes Jesus is dangerous but he can also be life transforming. 

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