Got pulled over by a church cop today.
Some minister in the Midwest I’ve never met who somehow accessed the Belleview Church Facebook page and by every indication, was cruising around looking for someone to flash his badge and gun at once the donuts were gone and he had nothing better to do.
Asked me why there’s a cross on the wall of our sanctuary. Thinking it an innocent inquiry, I explain it’s simply a visual reminder. Then, all of a sudden, he goes from speaking my language to sermonizing down at me in 17th century blather.
Because there’s a decoration on the wall of a church building two thousand miles away from him, where people worship (who he has never met and doesn’t know), to him, that automatically meant we were guilty of the following charges he ticketed us with:
a). Being idol worshipers who bow down before graven images
b). Changing and perverting the truth
c). Following after the Catholic church
d). Making “very light” of the New Testament
And then last, but certainly not least,
e). Being doomed (to hell)
When you’re someone who put yourself on a negativity diet because of how much you want a joyful mind and you intentionally seek after maintaining one, this kind of madness has a way of making your grip on positivity very slippery. As respectfully as I could, I refused to have an argument with him about something as trivial as that and I invited him to do something God actually cares about (loving Him, loving people, seeking those who don’t know of His grace, feeding and clothing the poor).
I’m writing this post, not to cannonball into this swamp of negativity or to settle any scores; nor to give his outlandish condemnation any more time than the four and a half minutes it already wasted in my life today, but to simply say this:
Pure and simple, Jesus wants DISCIPLES. AKA, followers. AKA, apprentices.
It often begins that way. But it’s so easy for us to become something else along the way. The following three are especially on my mind tonight:
We’ve seen this guy a hundred times on Law And Order. The high-powered lawyer who knows a ton about what the book says but uses big words with emotionally-charged tones and tries to bully someone on the witness stand into saying something self-incriminating.
This happened to Jesus constantly (Matthew 22:15, 23-29, 34-36, Mark 12:13-17, etc). Lawyers and Pharisees and Scribes (the clergymen of the time) whose brilliant minds were overflowing with knowledge of what the Scriptures said.
But sadly, that precious knowledge never made its way to their hearts. It was only to be used to start arguments and to throw Molotov cocktails at others (so they could flex how much they knew, so they could feel superior).
They would seek Him out just to ask Him loaded questions in public with the hopes of getting Him to say the thing that would condemn Him.
The Scriptures were never meant to be used as a Debator’s Handbook. Or to be bashed over someones head like a wadded up sports page to a cowering puppy.
Bob Goff said it well – “I don’t want people to meet my opinions. I don’t want to be Jesus’ lawyer. I just want them to meet Jesus.”
Jesus’ Attack Dog
The person who in so many ways resembles a rabid Pit Bull, prowling around on a leash that’s getting yanked further and further loose from the post by the minute. It’s foaming at the mouth. It’s snarling with a menacing growl at anyone that walks by.
It spends the day salivating at the fantasy of mauling somebody. Anyone. For any reason.
How could truth so life-changing and so overwhelmingly good be delivered with such anger and malice?
This type speaks as if they are Paul and everyone else in the world is Elymas the Magician (as seen in Acts 13:9-11), only in circumstances in their life that don’t matter. Like, oh I don’t know, if there’s a decoration on the wall of a church building for instance…
And last but not least, the aforementioned Church Cop
They could be a fellow student sitting at Jesus’ feet just like everyone else. But they would much rather be the Church Sheriff. The reason they’re there is to confront others and to belittle them. They are impossible to please. And they love it sooooooooooo much, how big it makes them feel to pull someone over and talk down to them as if they were a child (especially if they are a person with a reputation for being wise) and to accuse them of not being as righteous or as knowledgeable as they are.
God forgive me, there was a time when I very well may have spent two hours wrestling with someone in the mud about something as absurd as what’s hanging on the wall – and getting absolutely nowhere.
But Jesus doesn’t want or need me to be a cop. Or His lawyer. Or His attack dog. Or His enforcer. He wants us to be His sheep. His followers. His children.
I turned in my badge and handcuffs years ago. And the peace that brings is indescribable.
It occurs to me that the root of this grotesque identity crisis is the illusion that the church one associates with is the only one that possesses the truth – and that everyone else disagrees with Jesus.
But if we’re honest enough, we will discover that we all disagree with Him in some way. That we all must learn to conquer those disagreements. That so many of our well-guarded positions is the trivial nonsense that doesn’t matter to Him – while the things that do matter to Him could very well be the things we are neglecting.”
He wants disciples – gentle sons and daughters who exist to become more like Him than they were the day before. People whose hearts and minds are orchestrated by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24) and not the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:18-21).
Are we truly a disciple?
Or, are we running around playing cops and robbers?