The Supreme Supreme Court

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Down through the annals of American History, there have been 118 supreme court justices.  We’re due for another, and the confirmation process is getting messy, as it sometimes does.

I understand why.  The stakes are high. As a country, we should be very discerning about who gets to join this exclusive club.  Let’s hope our elected officials make good, informed decisions.

9 people sit on the court, making definitive decisions about what is right, what is just, and what is law in the USA.  When there’s a death or retirement, a replacement justice is found.  Sometimes the nominee leans to the right, and sometimes to the left.  Sometimes the court is more balanced than others.  Whether or not we live up to the “Supreme”, the idea behind this “Court” is a lofty goal for us as a country.

I wonder if you are familiar with a court that is even more supreme than the Supreme Court.  There are hints of it in a few places in the Bible, although we rarely pay attention to it.  Genesis 1:26 is perhaps the best example.  .

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…”

Who is “us”?  Who is “our”? Why does suddenly God shift to the plural, and then back again afterwards?  Ever notice that?  It may seem like a small thing, but this passage, along with some others (Genesis 3:22 and 11:7, 1 Kings 22:19 and Job 1) paints a picture where God is not alone.

What are some possible explanations for this?  A translation error?  Maybe. Many would say God is speaking within the Trinity, a conversation between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, although that is never spelled out.  Some people have asserted that God is simply using the “Royal We” and talking to himself.

Others believe God is talking to his wife, a hold over from the Canaanite religion.  And still others have pointed out that the name Elohim (which means Children of El) is another ancient idea passed down to the Hebrews, in which God is a little like Zeus, presiding over a divine court.  Truth is?  Nobody really knows.

Regardless of the theological implications, wouldn’t it be kind of cool if God was the Chief Justice of this Supreme Supreme Court?  Making decisions about creation, about how people live together, about right and wrong?  Can you picture them (whoever they are) deliberating and discussing and driven by a desire to do what is right for the sake of the world?

Well now…it may have occurred to you, but God doesn’t NEED a Supreme Supreme Court to do all those things.  God is the source of wisdom, and love, and right and wrong.  God is already our Chief Justice.  That’s why we are a monotheistic religion.  That’s why we declare “In God We Trust”.

If God were being nominated for our Supreme Court, I’d like to think it would be a breezy process, but knowing how complicated things can be we might want to ask him a few billion questions first.

The truth is, God doesn’t need a court.  But we do.  It’s our human attempt to honor our values and each other in a diverse and ever-changing world.  That’s why we try to confirm very human people into these very demanding positions–9 at a time.

How faithfully will they accomplish their task?

You and I may debate and disagree on that,

But only God can Judge.

 

Have a great week,

Mitch

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Purple Perfection?

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Welcome to the perfect world inside my head.

In my imaginary world, there are no terrorists, because everybody just loves each other.

In my perfect imaginary world, people make covenants and keep them.  People are quick to forgive, but since everyone loves so completely, there’s rarely anything worth forgiving.

In my  perfect world, everyone wants the same things: Peace, Love, and Hope.  And everyone knows that serving God is the best way to get them.

Ahhhh.  It’s a great place.  I like to visit there, especially when things in this world get so messed up.

But here’s the problem.

I went to visit my perfect world this morning, and there’s a new sheriff in town:

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BARNEY??? No!!!!!

What is Barney doing in my perfect world?

I started to object, but there is no objecting in my perfect world.  As it turns out, Barney with his safe, milquetoast song, is the best personification of my particular brand of perfection.

Not Jesus. Barney.

Want to sing with me?

As much as I can’t stand that song, I think I’m beginning to understand something.  Barney’s over-simplistic love fest style may be fine with little kids, but it is NOT the kind of perfect world I keep thinking I want.

When things get tough in this world, when I long for something better, I’m making a mistake to retreat from the here and now.  The mistake is thinking that Jesus would ever put on a Barney suit.

Heck no.

Sure, Jesus speaks of great, amazing love and forgiveness, but he’s not about to go all softie on us.

Did you ever notice?  Jesus is a fighter.

No, not in the sense of fists or guns or swords, but Jesus was willing to fight for us.  He fought worn-out traditions, and popular misconceptions.  He fought with his own disciples when they were foolish or arrogant.  He fought the powers of this world with the reality of the REAL Kingdom of God that is breaking into this world all the time.

Not a group-hug kind of Kingdom, but a Kingdom where the poor and disposessed are raised up with justice.  A kingdom where sinful and misguided mindsets are shown the light of day through the power of the spirit.

Jesus never tried to escape this whirled world for something more peaceful and simple.  No, the goal of Jesus’ life was not to reach perfection, but to reach the least and the lost.

I need to remember this, the next time the world seems shattered.

Instead of retreating to a “perfect” world where I can sing and dance with Jesus, I must remember that Jesus walks every hard road of this world with a purpose.  And he encourages us to do the same.

Truth is:  A little Barney goes a long way,

But Jesus goes much farther.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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“Heavy Laden”

“Come unto me, all that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  –Matthew 11:28 (KJV)  

I’m not sure I even realized just how heavy laden I’ve been because of Bin Laden.

Funny, the words are pronounced differently, “Layden” and “Lahden”, but they’re spelled the same.   And for this point in history, their meanings seem to coincide.   We’ve been Heavy Laden because of Osama Bin Laden.

And now, the big bad guy is no more.   After so many years of searching for him, the mastermind behind the event of 9/11 and other terrorist acts around the globe is dead. Of course, terrorism isn’t dead.   Wars aren’t over.  But still, this seems like a pretty big deal.  As our president and countless TV journalists have made it clear, “Justice Was Done”.

And now…there’s a feeling of release, for all the families who lost loved ones in terrorist attacks.   For all who have felt scared or angry because he had eluded capture.   For all who died…perhaps tonight they’ll be at rest.  Yes.

If that’s all true, if that burden has been lifted, why am I still feeling overloaded?

Strange, but I think the burden I’m carrying today is Jesus Christ. Yep, that’s right.   Today, being a follower of Jesus feels a little harder than normal to carry.  Because this is the guy that said “He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.”   And he’s the guy who said “Love your enemy”.    He’s the guy who allowed himself to be put to death rather than respond with violence.   He’s the one who said, “forgive seventy times seven”. I’m honestly not sure how to process the radicalness of Jesus Christ in the wake of what’s happened.

What about you? Times like this can put our faith to the test. If you’re feeling conflicted today, you’re not alone.   Christians everywhere are struggling whether or not to celebrate the killing of a man, however wicked he was.   Can we celebrate that he will do no more evil?  Can we celebrate a feeling of closure? What would Jesus do?

My advice:  Take the scripture above to heart.   Even as you wrestle with the burden of your faith in the midst of this amazing moment in history, Jesus quietly reminds us that we can rest our hopes and fears in him, and him alone.  That’s a lesson we should never forget.

I don’t know about you, but when I remember that Good News,

It’s a weight off my shoulder.

Have a good week,

Mitch