JESUS vs. SPOCK

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HOST:  Welcome to today’s theological olympics!

In this corner, looking positively radiant, we have The Savior of the Universe, Jesus!

And in this corner, with eyebrows raised, we have everybody’s favorite Vulcan, Mr. Spock!

Gentlemen, are you read for today’s question?  Here we go:

“You have 100 sheep.  1 is missing.  What do you do?”

JESUS:  Well, I actually told a story about this.  I would go after that lost sheep. And then rejoice after finding it.”

SPOCK: Fascinating.  Logic would dictate that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one.

HOST:  Ahh, we have a moral conundrum!  I’m curious, folks at home, what do you think?

Which is more important — reaching out to the lost, or feeding and caring for the flock?

It’s certainly a question that has gripped Christianity in the last few years.  For decades, many of our churches have turned inward, which means they stopped looking for the lost.  Nowadays, some have advocated drastic changes in our churches, so that virtually all our efforts would go towards reaching out.

JESUS:  That is the Great Commandment I gave, after all.

SPOCK: It seems illogical to pursue those on the fringes at the detriment of those at the center.  Does it not make more sense to sacrifice that one lost sheep so that the flock can continue?

JESUS:  Actually, Mr. Spock, I know a little something about sacrifice.  I was willing to sacrifice myself, for the good of the whole.

SPOCK: As was I.  My point exactly.

JESUS:  Yes, but my sacrifice was to show that love of the lost, the forgotten,  and those on the fringes is so important so as to be worth dying for. It is that kind of love, in action, that must animate any flock that bears the name Christian.

SPOCK:  (Pause)  Fascinating.  (Nods, slowly)  I believe, Jesus, that your proposition is highly logical.

HOST:  And there you have it!  Even Mr. Spock can see that, as Christians, “The Needs of The Many” can only truly be met when they are caring for “The Needs Of The Few.”

That’s it for this edition of the theological olympics.

Live Long And Help Others Propser!

Have a good week,

Mitch

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Keep Calm And Carry On

My mom published her first novel last week. I’m so proud of her.

If you’re interested (yes, this is shameless promotion) the book is called “Like Sheep” and it’s  available here on Amazon .  It’s a great whodunnit set in a tiny rural church back in the 80’s.  I’ve read it 3 times already!

Ironically, I was preaching an unrelated sermon about sheep this past Sunday, so I looked up the scripture my mom’s title comes from. Here it is:

4 Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53, NRSV)

This was written hundreds of years before Jesus, and yet as a Christian I can’t help but read these words and think about Christ.

Typically, I think of sheep as docile and obedient, but in this scenario we’re apparently the most unruly, poorly behaved sheep you’ve ever seen.  Every sheep for themselves. Not only are we unwilling to follow our shepherd, we’re unwilling to fall in step with each other.

It sounds like chaos. All we like sheep have gone astray.  

That’s a pretty depressing view of humanity: A bunch of riotous sheep, wreaking havoc wherever we go.

Actually, I can see how it fits with the characters in my mom’s book.  And it’s kind of true about people in my life, too.  Sometimes people are just apathetic or meek in the face of a threat.  Other times, though, people can freak out.  Panic.  Go astray.

Not on your average day, of course — on your average day we all seem to get along just fine.  But when there’s a threat, a danger, a fear…well, watch us run. And after all, how many non-average days have you had to face this week?

I take this passage from Isaiah as a reminder that Christ can reestablish order when things get chaotic.  It’s a reminder that there is somebody willing to take some bruises for the sake of the flock.

Have you seen one of these “Keep Calm And Carry On” posters before?  They’re very popular lately–but their origins come from London during the war.  They were designed to speak, with a royal flair, to the masses who might be facing a Nazi occupation.

The posters themselves attempted to bring order in the midst of chaos, and they may have worked, for all I know.

Jesus goes a step further: He helps us keep calm and carry on and leads us in the right direction.

I, for one, am eternally grateful that the Lord is my Shepherd in Psalm 23,

But Isaiah 56 reminds me that Jesus saves us, whether we’re

a little riotous

a little sheepish,

or both.

Have a good week.

Mitch