Once every couple of months, I have the distinct honor of writing and delivering the Call to Worship at my local church on Sunday morning. Everyone does it differently - some read sections of books or novels, some rewrite sections of Scripture, some read Psalms with call-and-response. As for me and my contribution, I write original pieces, crafted alongside my pastors who write and prepare the sermon. I love writing books and blogs and articles, but far-and-away my absolute favorite writing & speaking gig is writing these pieces for my local community. It is such an honor and humbling gift to serve my church with words.
As you read these pieces, keep in mind that they might read a bit strange, since they're written to be spoken in front of an audience.
This week's sermon was on the Sacrifice of Power & Privilege, given by Heather Thomas using the text from Philippians 2 and Matthew 10.
Here's my contribution.
Being humble is a tricky thing.
And by tricky I mean really, really hard. Like, almost impossible without the help of God.
Why? Why is this one so difficult? For me, it flies in the face of my desire to be known, to be important, to be smart and my personal favorite, to be right.
Man, I love being right. It’s awesome. But, let the record show that my heart is never to be intentionally divisive. My heart is never to drive a wedge between people, or be an advocate for disunity. I don’t want to be THAT person.
I just want everyone to agree with ME.
It’s a power play. It’s an overt act of privilege and a complete lack of dying to myself. Somewhere deep in me, there’s a root of pride, and its leaves and branches are full of dead fruit that look like arrogance. It looks like the sketch of a God that looks remarkably just like me. It’s uncanny, truly. And it’s a profound misunderstanding of the Good News.
Too often, I let the truth of the Gospel elude me. I forget what the text ACTUALLY says and instead, inject my own preferences and interpretations into it. This is nothing unusual, we all do it at some level, but it’s highly problematic – and that’s putting it gently.
The Scriptures say that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.
What our culture says and too often, what we tend to actually believe, is that God so loves the
God so loves the straight
The upper middle class
God so loves the suburban
Or the renewed urban
God so loves the beautiful
The theologically correct
God so loves the American
God so loves the Christian
We place all of these parameters around who gets access to the Good News and so often, too often, the parameters of power that we place on the Kingdom of God looks identical to that of our culture, to that of the Empire. My friend Rachel says that the scandal of God’s Kingdom is not who it keeps out, but who it lets in.
If we are to declare ourselves builders and residents of the Kingdom of God, then it’s actually our job to lay down our power, our privilege, our pride for the sake of those who don’t have it. For the sake of those who need it. For the sake of all those who God loves, but the world says we shouldn’t.
For God so loved the poor
For God so loved the hungry
The truth is, Jesus had all the power. He was God made flesh and he had access to all the trappings, power and privilege that provides. But when did He use it? When, in the Scriptures, do we see Jesus visibly use the power of God? When He fed the hungry with loaves and fish. When He healed the sick, when He made the blind see, the lame walk, and brought the dead back to life.
And in the moment when He probably needed and desired God’s power the most, when He cried out to His father and asked why He was forsaken? He turned his back to that power and died. For us.
As we come together to worship and hear the word preached, may we desire to be people who know the power & privilege we hold. May we sacrifice our desire to be right in favor of love. May we use our power and privilege for the good of people who have none. And may we turn our backs to our power and privilege when God asks.
And may we focus our eyes and center our hearts on Christ, who sacrificed all of His power for our sake.
And all of God’s people said, "Amen."