I am reading A More Christlike Word by Brad Jersak as part of a study group I am attending. I am going to be sharing some of my reflections as I read the book. Here is my fourth reflection:
I really love this book by Brad Jersak. I wish it could be required reading especially for all people who call themselves Christians.
I really like how he explains the significance of the Emmaus Way. I never understood that so clearly before. The question is raised as to why we were not given the words that were given to the disciples. And interestingly, not even given their names. To both, I say God again invites into personal relationship with Trinity. Not personal relationship so much with a particular theology or even disciple. Because God knows us. It’s easier to reach out to something we see and understand.
But that’s also exciting. Because that means the Emmaus Way is available to each of us. For the asking. For the knocking, seeking, and asking. What is bothering you? What question is lingering for you? I challenge you to be raw and honest with that question. And take it straight to God. I think that’s the invitation. I think that’s the beginning of the healing of our souls, our relationships, and our world.
Because I don’t think the end goal is full-proof theology. Why? Well, think of what “little” Jesus left the people with? He didn’t even setup a new system. No new denomination. No new building. No new translation. In fact, and I remember this often, in Mark 5, Jesus tells a man NOT to follow him. To instead go home and tell his people all God has done for him.
And that was it. No Bible College. No seminary. No ordination. No robes. No building. Just go and tell your friends and family what God has done for you.
What if God showed up today and the religious leaders of the world wanted to host him for dinner. And he said, “Yeah, thank you, but I’d prefer you go tell your friends and families what I’ve done for you.”
Whew! How well do you think that would go over?! I better check my own ego to even say that.
But, really. That leads me to believe that Jesus was yet another invitation to relationship with Trinity. And that relationship is very much alive and personal. For each of us. For the taking. As much as we want.
And how do we best share the God that we love with those that we love? I think it’s not so much theology, but sharing our personal experiences with Trinity. So that they can see God is possible for themselves. Versus some elevated theological construct that they might not even have the time or energy to fully pontificate. As much as I love to go there and would if I was blessed to do so.
But when is the last time you experienced God? When is the last time you shared that experience with someone? This isn’t a guilt trip or a test. Just another invitation. To ask God. Even if something bothers you about my questions. Ask about at least that.
I’m getting better at this, but I admit decades of trauma takes a long time to heal. I am that wild horse learning to trust. Learning not to panic. Even with Trinity.
And actually it’s more of an unlearning. This is why Brad’s book is so helpful to me. Every page is some gem to help me unlearn extremely toxic if still well-meaning teaching from the pulpits over the course of decades.
And can I then go around proud and boasting? Feeling for once not completely crushed under the weight of religion? Oh, there is temptation to do so. Ego, again. But I pray not. Even as much as the chastening might sting, I pray not. Because that would be to completely miss the point. I don’t have the strength, but our Jesus willingly submitting to our whips and nails was not at all about being boastful and proud.
Again, help me, Lord. Because You are all I have. There really is nothing so much better in me than another. Life circumstances. Push comes to shove. I’ve failed enough to know I wouldn’t want to bet on myself. Even though You love me and everyone else.
This is where I think we come down to the bread and butter. To where God could have provided a perfect translation. Heck, God could write it clear as day in the sky. Or have the stones speak to us. So theology must not be the destination. In that we might already know enough. Definitely to get started. And then it’s a matter of extending an invitation to relationship. That’s pretty much the gist of it. I think.
Like, “Hey guys, I’ve been experiencing the best time of my life with Trinity. I could tell you some stories. And the party is open if you want to join in.”
That’s where the religious leaders get it wrong. Putting up so many barriers. Making people jump through hoops. Keeping the little children away from Jesus. Making it hard for them. When they desperately need hope and relief.
Hey Pastor, why don’t you tell me this Sunday how you experienced God this week? Why isn’t that enough? Why not just try leaving the condemning behavioral modification lessons down? Maybe leave that to Holy Spirit? Is the goodness of God not enough? Tell me about you and what you’ve been through. Start there?
Is God still alive for you, Preacher? Is God not enough, Pastor? I bet at least at one time you thought so.
Maybe you haven’t failed. Maybe God hasn’t failed you. Maybe leaning into the discomfort and getting really honest is the next first step. To an even bigger adventure with Jesus than you’ve experienced thus far. For renewed hope. To feel the Life back into all that you’ve felt it missing from. And true joy.
Maybe let Trinity do the heaving lifting? What leads people to repentance, Pastor? How much you are disappointed in them? Or… ?