Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Scandalous Hope -- Hope Chronicles 33

I am really enjoying working at Barnes and Noble. (The pay could be better, but the atmosphere is great.) I worked 1 day in the last 4 days but have popped in there 3 out of the 4. Today, I went to pick up one of Lysa's books for someone.

I was hailed to go to the register at the other end of the row of registers. As I was going, I mentioned that I was picking up a book and the manager snagged it for me. It was, as is customary for special orders, wrapped in white paper. She said, "You know we have to check it out." I laughed and said, "Yeah, it's pretty scandalous stuff."

When she handed my purchase to another bookseller, Will, to ring up, she said, "Yeah, it's really racy all right." Will looked pretty perplexed. We do see some racy things come through our lines, but I don't think he would have put What Happens When Women Say Yes To God in that category!

Speaking of that book. I've been reading it on line at Lelia's site with some other women. It's kind of fun to read everyone's reactions. I picked this copy up to give to a friend.

But the chapter and the Barnes and Noble banter got me thinking. We don't typically think of Christianity as scandalous. Scandalous is the affairs of public figures or whatever is happening with Brittney Spears or any number of stars on any given day. Scandalous is all about money and power and sex. Honestly, we are so saturated by it, that it takes more and more degrees of "scandal" for anything to register.

We are the frog in the pot of water. Put a frog in a pot of boiling water and it quickly jumps out. Put it in a pot and then slowly turn up the heat, the frog will stay put while it boils to death. Culturally, it is the same thing.

Shouldn't Christianity be scandalous? Shouldn't Jesus followers be the talk of the town? Too often we aren't. We are milk toast not spice. Jesus created a "scandal" most of where He went:

  • To start, His entire birth was a scandal -- unwed mother kind of stuff.

  • His lineage could be considered a scandal. It includes Rahab, the prostitute, and Ruth, the Moabitess. God chose not to have His son come from a "pure blood" line.

  • He talked to known sinners and tax collectors. He even had dinner with them.

  • He didn't put anyone ahead of anyone else just because of who they were. For example, when Jarius' (a big wig in town) daughter is ill and dying, Jarius comes to him in a panic. Jesus stops for a woman -- a lowly woman -- who had been bleeding for 12 years.

  • Jewish people weren't big on cemeteries in that coming in contact with the dead made someone unclean. But Jesus travels across the Sea of Galilee to cast out a legion of demons in a man that the town really had no use for. Jesus healed him and instead of marveling at that and praising God, they got angry about their pigs. They cared more for pigs than people.

  • He challenged the religious authority of the day. He let them know when they had things backwards.

  • He was gentle with children but capable of enough anger that He overturned tables in the temple courtyard.

  • He went out of His way to talk to the Samaritan woman.

And the list goes on and on. Jesus was gentle with those who needed tenderness but didn't mind shaking up those who needed to be shaken up a bit.

In What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, Lysa talks about radical obedience. In some sense, it is being willing to do whatever God asks even if it doesn't make sense to our culture, our friends, our family, or even ourselves. Lysa writes, "Obedience becomes radical when we say, 'Yes, God, whatever You want,' and mean it. We release our grip on all that we love and over it back to Him, who loves us more." That is hard to do, but it is the heart of the matter. Do we love God enough to give Him all that we hold precious and dear -- finances, family, friends, dreams, hopes . . . .

There is saying about the news: If it bleeds it leads. The power and hope of the gospel is that Jesus bled for us, He paid a blood debt we could never pay. Few of us really comprehend what that means at the core. Or if we glimpsed it when we became Christians, it's lost it's power as it has become "familiar."

A friend sent an email to me recently. It was about a prof who taught religion and sensed that the class didn't grasp the reality of the cross. Anyway, he brought donuts to the class and asked the first person if they wanted one. They said, "Yes." He had one of the other students do 10 push ups so the first could have a donut. And so it went through out the class with the same student doing the push ups. Soon, students were saying they didn't want the donuts because they saw the exhaustion on the face of the student doing the push ups. They were becoming horrified that their donut was costing so much. But the prof had one student do them anyway. In the end He said, "Now, wouldn't it be a shame to leave that donut sitting on the desk after all that was paid for it."

Perhaps, we should all be horrified, scandalized on a daily basis on what our salvation cost Jesus. If it bleeds, it leads. Maybe we should remember on a daily basis that Jesus died and rose again. And since He loved us enough to bleed and die for us, shouldn't we follow His lead with radical obedience? Shouldn't He be the talk of the town because we are loving prostitutes and junkies, caring for widows and orphans, standing up for things in small and big ways in our jobs and schools and communities, getting our hands dirty, changing the way we spend our money, our time, our talent, asking God for His direction even in the mundane things of life, . . . .

Shouldn't we be creating a daily scandal because we have a scandalous hope?


MrsJoeB said...

WOW Amy!! What a radical way to look at this!! Scandelous hope! I love this post and it really spoke to my heart. Bless you for sharing God's voice in this. I will have to re-read this again and then I shall go see what scandelous activity I can go stir up for God-maybe in tomorrows night ladies Bible study at my church. I think I'll print this off and send them home with this...it goes with our beginning lesson. Amazingly wonderful how God works these things out!!

In His Graces~Pamela

Jenny said...

Thank you for a great post! I love the donut story, very true and thought provoking!

Scandelous activity, I love it!


Michelle said...

Beautiful! Let's stir others up with outrageous hope and shocking obedience to God's direction.

Heather@Mommymonk said...

What truth. And so wonderfully written. Our faith should be scandalous!

Lelia Chealey said...

great post amy love reading your insights. thanks for all the prayers...no baby yet!