Zechariah―Wounded by God

Zechariah―Wounded by God

John Haralson   •   September 15, 2016

To admit we are foolish, weak, and in need of repentance gives the vindictive and self-righteous camp plenty of ammunition to turn against us and to turn others against our leadership. But the alternatives to living in and living out truth are far worse: we either hide from truth or we choose to spin our sin and our story.”  - Dan Allender, Leading with a Limp

Dear Friends,

Buddy Christ (first picture above) was a religious icon created for the film Dogma. In the movie, the statue of a smiling Jesus was developed by a Catholic priest, played by none other than George Carlin, to revive interest in the church. He used the icon in place of the crucifix with hopes of making Jesus, and the church, more appealing to people. 

Buddy Christ is an alluring―and, quite frankly, a very Americancreation because its Jesus is so easy going. He’s always positive and upbeat and would never do anything disruptive like challenge you or disagree with you.

The problem with Buddy Christ, of course, is that he is a distortion of the real Jesus.

Yes, Jesus is more gracious than we often believe him to be. Yes, he continues to bestow his grace upon us in startling and unexpected ways that do lift our spirits.

However, the real Jesus is also unpredictable and mysterious and he commands us to follow him and “walk in the light”. One of the things this means is that to be a disciple of Jesus means that we can no longer hide in the shadows. Walking in the light means, sometimes, we get exposed by God himself, and have our true selves seen by him and others. 

In other words, Jesus sometimes wounds his followers. Make no mistake, if you follow Jesus long enough, he will not leave you unscathed.

Yet, the wounds he inflicts upon us are manifestations of his love. They are like the cuts of a loving surgeon. Jesus carves deep grooves upon us us and we bleed; but he only wounds us so that we can be healed. 

In contrast to Buddy Christ, the second picture above is a mosaic of Jesus from the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

Jesus here is depicted as the Pantocrator―ruler of allwith a penetrating gaze that, as Flannery O’Connor has said, “sees all and demands all”. To follow this Jesus is, at times, deeply unsettling and risky.

At the same time, Jesus’ right hand is raised, giving his blessing. His gaze may penetrate, demand, and, yes, even wound. Yet, he brings his blessing and life to those who follow him.

This week: Zechariah―Wounded by God, Luke 1:5-23

Liturgy is here. 

I hope to worship with you.

Warmly in Christ,

John

PS - Come to Christian Formation Hour to hear from our new deacons about the exciting and encouraging work they are doing.