Monday, 15 July 2013
Morning Coffee with Jesus
Now, I appreciate that my humour and imagination might be offensive to some... but for me, they are tools to get me to deeper truth. So, I apologize in advance to any that I might offend... I stand befuddled by the Zimmerman verdict, not because the law was improperly applied; not because the jury failed to do their duty, but perhaps because the law was obeyed and the jury did its job... and still a 17 year old boy is dead.
Sitting in my backyard early this morning… enjoying the cool morning before the humidity takes over… rising sun bestowing a sense of calm hope: A whole new day waiting for me to begin… sipping a nice hot cup of green tea and talking to Jesus.
Well, of course I’m talking to Jesus, it would rude to ignore him.
There he is sitting on my faux wicker couch, cup of black coffee in his hand. I've often wondered if coffee is really the best way for the Son of Man to begin his day… but as he has explained to me, “You want irrefutable proof of the existence of a Loving God? It’s that first sip of coffee in the morning… it tastes like angels singing. Tea is just a bunch of leaves in water”
This morning He’s still pretty shook up over the George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin verdict.
You know, for a guy who spent so much time in the first century under oppressive military rule, surrounded by intolerance and racism, he can sure be naive.
“The jury did its job, Jesus… they listened to the facts, applied the law and recognized that George Zimmerman acted in self-defense”
“Against, what? A 17 year old boy with some Skittles?”
“No, an aggressive young man, who, apparently, would not back down”
“So, for being 17 and full of assertive energy, a young boy is dead…. I suppose that I’m lucky we didn't have guns or self-defense laws in the first century, none of my Apostles would have lasted long…”
I let that one hang in the air for a while…
“Jesus, you have to understand the necessity for a ‘Stand Your Ground’ law… people’s right to defend property must be supported, or those who bully and take our stuff will win… and if we’re going to have the right to protect your stuff, we have to be allowed to use lethal force, or the bad guys are simply going to call our bluff.”
Jesus looked at me with those big brown eyes (they are sooo big) and told me about the first time he met Paul, James and John; how he invited them to leave their nets and their stuff behind to follow him… and they did. Matthew left his job... Andrew left his teacher... everybody who followed Jesus left all their stuff behind.
“Yeah,” I said, feeling a little uncomfortable, “but they didn’t have great stuff like I have… I’ve got a convertible and have you seen my new Blackberry? I mean, it fits right in my pocket and it’s not going to slow me down if I’m following you… and think of the great pictures I could take for FaceBook and Pinterest”
“Well,” Jesus said, “it is a nice phone, although I prefer a real keyboard… but if you want to follow me, you need to let go of your attachment to goods and property.” He noticed my jaw drop, “Seriously, give it all up and follow me. The added bonus is that if you follow me, you won’t need a ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, will you?” (Mark 10:17ff)
“Well, sure… but still people can be pretty mean. Surely we need some kind of law to protect us from muggers and those who would take the shirt off our back… is it so much that I want to keep my shirt on? I burn so easily in the sun”
Jesus reached over to hold my hand… slipped a little bottle of sunscreen into it and said, “From anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again…” (Luke 6:29.30)
“Come on, that’s crazy! It’s my shirt!! It’s my colour!! I worked hard for it!!!”
Jesus gave me the look that parents give a three year old that just doesn't seem to grasp the idea of nap time… and then he asked me “Why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28ff)
I could feel my face burning… “I think that ‘You of little faith’ is a bit harsh. I mean, I’m here talking to you, obviously, I believe in you..”
Again with that patient smile, “I didn't say ‘you of little belief’ – I know that you believe in me, but I’m not sure about your faith. Faith is about living as if you believe in me… faith should change the way that you live… perhaps not worrying about a shirt that brings out the colour of your eyes, or believing that property is more important than human life, or having hope even when everything seems to be falling apart…”
“Sure, I get it… but if someone is threatening me… if they even lay hands on me…”
Jesus cuts me off… “If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also” ( Luke 6:29a)
I had nothing to say…
Probably the kind of silence that Pilate heard.
Finally, I ventured… “It sure would be easier to do this if you were around. If you could remind us”
“What do you talk about in church?” Jesus asked.
Not wanting to brag about our latest fundraiser, I decided to retreat into the silence.
My tea was cold.
Jesus took my hand and looked me in the eyes… not in judgment, not in scorn, but with a deep understanding and love and He said, “Norm, I know that you try. But do remember when I said that no one can serve two masters? You will either hate one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other? Well, here it is… you cannot love property over life, or you will find yourself shooting people over a car… you cannot love your “rights” over your desire for service and justice, or you will soon be taking care only of yourself…. you cannot pursue power over love or you will find yourself killing all those things that challenge you… remember Herod? AND you cannot follow me and shoot me at the same time…”
“But, nobody shot you! Not this time… it was in Florida…”
“…for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me…. I came into your neighbourhood and you shot me…. just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me. …” (Matthew 25)
“But, Jesus… it’s the law.... it's fair… aren't you listening?”
“Norm…I'm Jesus... aren't you listening?”
He left shortly after that...