The Surprising Jesus
I've been serving in ministry of some kind--either as a church staffer or pastor--for nearly twenty years. I grew up going to church, and (other than a five year absence when I had a crisis of faith) I spent most of my life before ministry in some kind of church or another.
Not much surprises me any more when it comes to church and church-y folks. In fact, it's easy at times to get a bid jaded about spiritual matters when you've been at this Christian thing for as long as I have.
Whenever I have had church members express their dissatisfaction and then depart for another church, I always genuinely wish them well. But what I know is that whatever drove them to dissatisfaction in the old place, will almost assuredly surface in the new place.
Because the truth of the matter is that most of us Christian-types too-often take our eyes off Jesus and let our gaze fall on people, leaders and institutions instead. And when we do this, we are almost always let down, or underwhelmed.
When this happens, Church can become something you do--like a monotonous habit. Living the Christian life can quickly become a set of dull, lifeless checklists. We can easily find ourselves sleepwalking through our life of faith--joyless, bored and unfulfilled.
When we lose sight of Jesus, we also often lose the element of surprise that Jesus so creatively brings to our lives.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Ephesians 5:14, where the Apostle Paul issues the following awesome exhortation to sleepwalking Christians: "Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine upon you!"
We need to be awakened to the surprising ways that the Risen Christ reveals himself to us all of the time--each and every day. If our focus is firmly fixed on Jesus, we will soon discover that Jesus loves to pop up in the most unusual places and in the most incredible ways.
May you see the surprising evidence of Jesus today in the world around you--in the faces of the people you encounter, in the Creation that he generated before the beginning of time, in the ways that new life is springing up from what was left for dead.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.