I enjoy the type of speaking he does, especially helping us see the 'why' and 'context', with literal translations and historical & cultural frames of reference. That's right up my alley, with my love for history and my Expanded Bible.
I admire his obedience to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. On more than one occasion he has explained how he wanted to teach vs. how he was told to teach. He has humbly confessed to how his sermon has changed because of pride or lack of faith.
I also admire his willingness to not pull any punches. He will not flower up the teaching to make it more palatable. He even unpretties our modern translations of the Bible, language society might find perfectly acceptable outside Church walls, but appalled at inside a sacred building. I relish these messages and actually look forward to when I say 'ouch' from the conviction he's tapped into.
So, all of these came into play last Sunday and I just LOVED the message.
First, his heart for restoration of broken people (recovery) led him to start an 8 week series on healing through Jesus' words in the Beatitudes (foundational principles of our recovery ministry). Even starting where we do, denial/admit you need God. YAY!
Second, the ouch factor. Before he got to the part about admitting we need God (poor in spirit) he spoke about why we need God. Isaiah 64:6 for example. As he started putting on a latex glove, he explained he had not wanted to do this, that people would be too offended. But....
Third, his obedience. God said, "You will say this and I want people to leave offended". God told him, "I want people to understand how offended I am!" The glove alone had Sean and I looking at each other, with eager anticipation yet with a little pre-emptive disgust, wondering what unclean thing would be used as a metaphor.
So, he did what no other pastor I know would do.
He did what no other MAN I know would do.
Let me give you a hint. Think old testament. What did unclean often refer to?
Let me give you another hint. Think of what else the term 'rag' is used for.
Fourth, his dedication to literal translation. The Common English Bible (CEB) translation says: "all our righteous deeds are like a menstrual rag." So did you guess? He pulled out a used menstrual pad!
I personally wasn't offended, I've known this to be an accurate translation prior. And, as a woman, I had respect for a guy who could do that, even with a glove on. But mostly because of how he prefaced it, I believe God did tell him he wants us to know how offended he is at what we try to offer him sometimes. I was convicted.
Even though I have heard that translation before, when it comes to my own 'filthy rags' I see them like my 'filthy' dishrag. Not perfect but able to be used, good enough.
There is no use for a used menstrual pad, people don't want to even see it, never mind touch it. It is detestable, abhorrent, OFFENSIVE to all senses!
I think I get it God.
You see, lately, I have been prone to a little pride. I've been a little prideful about spending 3-4, sometimes 5 large portions (2-4 hrs at at time) of time every week on my relationship with God in very external ways. I have been very aware of how my life may appear, and I've even been told how I seem "very servant hearted."
Oy! tricksy devil.
I've coasted a little lately because of that opinion of my outward actions.
My reasons for seeking out God in serving and community haven't changed, but my attitude in those moments....slightly.
When I am resentful of lack of help. Filthy rag.
When I am tired and just want my Friday nights back....to waste. Filthy rag.
When I feel taken for granted and show up as the martyr. Filthy rag.
When I feel like no one else does it 'good enough' and I try to do as much as I can, all on my own. Filthy rag.
When I wish I could pick and choose who I serve. Filthy rag.
I have been giving God my filthy rags and expecting he approves of them because I genuinely do want to serve him, and I genuinely do want be his conduit, and I genuinely do want to be immersed in his family. But when I do it out of my own power, and my own self-seeking desire for the personal rewards I get, and do it out of my sense of having something to offer. How could I not see that was pretty offensive?
When do I turn to God, desperate for His sustenance?
When do I depend on God for my every day survival?
When do I humbly declare myself not worthy?
When I do that, those would be the moments Jesus calls poor in spirit. Jesus calls blessed.
Blessed = approved of. Yes, love me those translations :)
I want God to approve of me, bless me, because I do everything out of desperate need for him. I want everything that flows out of me to get that "Gold Star" from God, not man.
Not a hard choice.
Gold Star vs. filthy rag.