As you can imagine, I’ve had a lot of time to think on the trip. I guess that’s good and bad. Sometimes my mind can be a scary place to be. As you are about to find out. This latest offering started forming yesterday, and I tried to squelch it, but that’s not happening, so bear with me. The original working title of this post was going to be “If Jesus Wore Flowered Swim Trunks,” but I decided that might be a little too sensational. I’m not really sure where all we are headed, but stay with me till the end!
It all started when I read a post that a friend of mine had written to another friend. This was in a private group. The purpose of the post is not important here, but what she said really stayed with me. She said, ”It occurred to me one evening that if Jesus walked the Earth right now, He might prefer hanging with my lesbian sister and her authentic, loyal, God-fearing, friends than me and my Bible Study women…I’m not saying he would support their life choices but He would certainly enjoy His time. I would love to be a fly on the wall so I could learn how to navigate these cultural and familial waters.”
You know, Jesus wasn’t real big on religious types. He went to those who needed His message, not to the rule followers. When asked about the greatest commandment, he said in Matthew 22: 37-40 – “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Please notice that the verses leading up to this statement show us that the person asking the question was not someone interested in the teaching of Jesus. Nope. It was a religious type. An “expert” in religious law who was trying to trap him. (v. 35) A rule follower.
Don’t miss v. 40. My paraphrase… If you love God with all your heart and love your neighbor purely, then the importance of the rules and regulations will fade. It will all fall into place if you are doing the first two. My takeaway from this verse: He was looking for authenticity. True followers and true lovers of people.
Okay, so, yesterday I’m sitting on the deck looking at all the folks around me and wondering where Jesus would be if he were there. (I warned you about my brain.) I pictured him sitting across from me talking with a couple in their mid 60s. He had on his long white robe with the blue sash. Then I decided that didn’t work. He wouldn’t be that obvious. So I erased that and put him in flowered swim trunks and a white tank top. And I pulled his hair back into a ponytail. And he was holding a Corona. (Woah…I heard that collective gasp. Okay…the Corona has been replaced with a glass of wine. C’mon…he changed water into wine!)
Anyway, I watched in my mind’s eye as he talked with these folks. He leaned toward them and listened to them. He laughed with them. He kept eye contact with them as they talked with him. He loved them. You could tell that he loved them even though he had just met them. It wasn’t important if they were gay or straight, married or living together, if they loved him or not, or what baggage from bad church experiences they had. He just loved them.
Then he stood and walked toward me. There was an empty chair next to me and I was pretty sure he would sit and visit with me for awhile. You know, talk about ministry and prayer and my awesome Christian blog and stuff. But no, he sat on the end of the lounge chair, looked at me, then looked out at all the people on deck, and said, “There is a lot to do.” Then he got up and walked away.
I snapped back to reality and chuckled at what a crazy place my imagination is. Jesus in flowered swim trunks. Really. I leaned back to soak up some rays. Then something happened. SPLAT! I looked up and the woman that Jesus had been talking to in my imagination had fallen. I mean in reality had fallen. Flat on her face. Right at the end of my chair. Her husband was trying to help her up. Without thinking I jumped up and grabbed her from the other side. I helped her up and put my arm around her and rubbed her back. “Are you okay?” I asked. “Yes,” she said in a British accent. I could tell she was mortified. I said, “Oh this has happened to me before. I know it hurts our pride, but I’m so glad you are okay.” She smiled and thanked me.
I went back to my chair. For a moment I thought I saw ponytailed, flowered swim trunk Jesus smiling. So I asked, “Okay. I loved that woman…my neighbor. I helped her. But what does that mean? How does that affect the Kingdom? She still has to find you and come to know you and pray the prayer and stuff.” And in my heart I heard him say, “You leave that to me. Today you did what I asked you to do. You loved.”
So…what am I trying to say here today? Don’t follow rules? Accept the lifestyles of everyone? Jesus drinks Coronas? No…none of that.
I am saying that Jesus is looking at our hearts. He is looking for authenticity. For followers who love him with all their “heart, soul, and mind.” That’s a tall order. Cause we can sure paint the outside to look like we love him real good and are following real good, when our hearts are doing anything but that. Trust me. I know. I’ve done it.
So, I challenge you to authentically love today. Realize that every action that you do is a part of this great Kingdom plan.
Blessings, my friends!
Paul Strozier said:
I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying your thoughts. Thanks for taking the time even in your rest to share them with us. Absolutely agree with today. One of my best conversations at Church yesterday was with a woman whose greatest concern was whether or not we would welcome homosexuals to our Church. The short answer was – if we would welcome me we would welcome anyone. The longer answer had something to do with Jesus being “filled” with BOTH “grace” and “truth” while we tend to lean to one side or the other. The really long answer is still being lived out. What impressed me was she was so relieved that I didn’t think I had a simple answer to that question. I think that’s where authenticity comes in. What a ride!
Lee Ann Martin said:
Thank you, Paul. You get it. You heard my heart. I’m so glad you are my friend!
Angie Dyches said:
I struggle with being a “religious type”…its my upbringing. Im a born rule follower. It is my nature. Sometimes I hate that side of myself. Thank you for sharing that. It really brings me back to square one. That side of myself forgets that God can do all things…with or without my “help” or my “commentary”. I am enjoying reading your blog in between tax returns. LOL I hope you are having a wonderful time.