On a recent Sunday morning, we found the following article, from “A Bigger Table” by John Pavlovitz in our church bulletin.
“I really want God to be big enough. I want the table to be big enough. I still seek a church that is not the least but the most diverse place on the planet. I still dream that the life of Christ can be fully incarnated in the people who bear his name.”
“I want this faith to produce something more redemptive than choosing sides and building silos and pointing fingers. I want it to generate hope and yield goodness and produce mercy.”
I like our church. The first time we attended, I said that I believed a man like Jesus would feel welcome. I continue to say this because I do not think of Jesus as one of the white fraternity boys of his day. From what I read, his parents were a poor couple traveling (actually migrating) from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the birth of their first child (Luke 2:1-4). Nothing makes me think Jesus had an education from a prestigious university, wined and dined with the rich and powerful, or carried an impressive title. Truthfully, the man I understand as Jesus would not be a welcome sight in many contemporary churches. (Should I mention that Jesus, a Jew, probably had a dark complexion and was most likely an Arab?)
I also like our church because the minister and many of the members of the congregation truly attempt to live according to the simple teachings of Jesus. Our small church feeds the poor, shelters the homeless, and visits those in jail. (Our minister and a few members actually went to jail during a protest in the governor’s office.)
My spiritual seeking boils down to two questions.
What did Jesus say and do?
How can I attempt to follow the words of Christ and live as he did?
I am not a theologian or historian. I do not endeavor to understand Revelations or much of the Old Testament. Someone once accused me of cherry-picking the scriptures I follow. That criticism totally and accurately sums up my efforts. Although I will not be able to live up to my goal, I try, as best I can, to follow a simple directive, “Love God and love others.” Simple — yet the greatest challenge ever given.
I close with words from Reverend Barber, “If you don’t want to love and serve people out of your comfort zone, leave Jesus alone.”
I say, “Amen.”
Washington, Jesse. “What Race was Jesus? No One Knows for Sure.” Nation and World.December 24, 2013.
Reverend Williams Barber II, Greenleaf Christian Church, Goldsbero, N. Carolina.