Friday, April 6, 2012

Jesus Will Not Be Pimped

In March 2012, I attended a conference at which Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver II was the keynote speaker. For the record, Congressman Cleaver can P.R.E.A.C.H. He spoke about the current budget crisis in our government, the changes in how congressional leaders relate to and communicate with one another, and the responsibility of all citizens to care about how our money is used. At one point in the sermon keynote address, Cleaver spoke vociferously against people who loosely talk about "God on their side" or who choose to ignore the plight of struggling people, but speak of Jesus' approval and how Jesus has brought them success. While ignoring Jesus' teaching, they give him credit for their success and expect him to continue to deliver. However, said Cleaver, "Jesus will not be pimped."

Jesus will not be pimped.

Can I hear an amen?

Preach it, Brother Cleaver. We cannot ignore Jesus' plain teaching about loving our neighbor, about dropping our throwin' stones, about drawing all people to God, about lifting women and children and outcasts of all types, about understanding that kingdom of God is at hand. We cannot ignore those things, but expect the name of Jesus to bring us political victory, economic victory, religious victory.

Jesus will not be pimped.

In Anchorage this week, there was an election fiasco of historical proportions. Many precincts ran out of ballots, which meant that some people did not get to vote or voted on questioned/questionable ballots. Was there an unexpected number of voters? Maybe. This was an election for mayor and there were several ballot propositions up for consideration. Proposition Five proposed to add "same-sex orientation" and "transgendered identity" to the city's non-discrimination clause. Proposition Five did not pass, by a large margin. My heart aches.

I was part of campaigning for Proposition Five. Yes on Five. I did public work and I did some private negotiating and conversations with people I know and love, but would not normally be inclined to vote yes on this kind of thing. Some people changed their votes. One person was willing to leave the prop blank, unable to vote yes, but willing to not vote no.

Some of the rhetoric from both sides was harsh. However, from my perspective, the No on Five crowd was particularly vitriolic with pastors using the pulpit to spread false information about homosexuals (uncited and incorrect statistics regarding suicide, child abuse, and crime), conflating transgendered identity with transvestitism (not the same at all), spreading incorrect and damaging information about how Prop 5 would affect churches, and using nebulous phrases like "protect your rights" without clarifying the rights that were "threatened".*

The use of church time, pulpit authority, and church dollars to spread discrimination in the public sector is abhorrent to me. Using the name of Jesus to keep people in the dark of discrimination with regard to jobs, housing, and services is shameful. People are hurting and churches have kicked them when they're down, in the name of Jesus. And these same churches will be touting how Jesus brought them victory.

Jesus will not be pimped.

Why am I writing this on Good Friday? Because it's on this day of all days that we tend to hear about the idea that humanity was (and is) so terrible that God had to send his Son to die for all, but the death (and resurrection) only brings redemption to those who believe. God was/is so angry, so hates the people of the world, that the only satisfaction that would work to satisfy God's angry need for an appropriate sacrifice that is for the Son to come, live as a human,  and then die in a horrible way for all the sins that have been and will ever be committed.

I don't think so.

Jesus will not be pimped. Not even by the Father.

The attempt to snuff the Second Person of the Trinity, the Death of Jesus, the Murder of the Messiah comes at the hands of people. People who thought they could force God into acting (I'm looking at you, Jewish Zealots of the Roman occupation). People who thought that the Messiah would look a certain way and Jesus was a blasphemer (if not a threat to their power). (I'm looking at you, chief priests and scribes). People who were scared and uncertain and who had little power, even to try to prevent what was happening (I'm looking at you, disciples who steal away in the dark of the garden).

People killed Jesus for a variety of reasons, but

Jesus will not be pimped.

God acted (and acts) in spite of human actions, with their myriad causes, to bring resurrection- life, hope, and the reality of forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn't require substitution. Forgiveness is about a clean slate, fresh linen, an empty tomb.

Jesus will not be pimped.

If our work in Jesus' name is not the work of caring, loving, healing, restoration, clarity, forgiveness... if it's not work Jesus would recognize as his own... we better be careful to whom we attribute the victory.

It's a bleak day, but resurrection is coming and it looks exactly how God wants it to look...  and not how any of us define.

Jesus will not be pimped.

*I carefully wrote this sentence because of how No on Five people took sentences and thoughts of Yes on Five people out of context.


Muthah+ said...

We moved to TX when it snowed on Mother's Day, Julia. Love this post! I am off to see if I can organize tornado relief with Sarah. A bit of a different Good Friday for me. Peace.

Anonymous said...

Well said. I would raise another question. When Senator Murkowski was running a write in campaign, certain members of the extreme end of the spectrum urged anyone with a name "Lisa" or a last name starting with an "M" to go register as write in confuse the voters and hijack the election. With the Prop 5 issue members of the extreme urged any and all to go to the precincts to register and vote THE DAY OF the election...which caused a run on ballots, huge lines, and many legitimate registered voters to have to vote questioned sample ballots etc. Two attempts to manipulate a democratic election is a coincidence, right? What if there's a third????

Pastor Julia said...

True, Anonymous. If your case against a candidate or ballot proposition is valid, 1) you will not need to exaggerate or lie and 2) you will not encourage actions that lead to election mishaps or disenfranchisement. Intentional ballot/election misinformation may not be illegal, but it's certainly unethical, amoral, and causes disenfranchisement (which is illegal).

Anonymous said...

Thank you Pastor Julia for writing this. I have been struggling with this a lot due to many friends of mine that all have different beliefs and views. This helped calm my mind a bit :-)


PrJoolie said...

You preach, sister!

Anonymous said...

Excellent words. Brave too. Keep it up! I believe it's going to get harder before it gets better. God continue to give you strength and clarity.
~a Lutheran sister in a conservative town...