1st Blog: Too Real?

I have been sitting on what to write for my first blog for weeks (performance anxiety). Finally it came together tonight after a big pizza. Wheat-rush, perhaps? What I came up with is this: I can’t blog if I think it has to be erudite, or perfect, or articulate. I would then sit in front of my laptop trying to think of that PERFECT way of saying something, that PERFECT quote or that PERFECTLY expounded Scripture with a PERFECT audience who loved what I wrote. That is just not going to happen in my very unmargined and sometimes oh too human and imperfect life.

So what you will read from me may be done hastily, may or not be deep (look for the ‘no diving sign’), and may elicit feelings from ‘My Lord how profound’ to ‘what a pathetic waste of my time I’m going to drop out’.

But I CAN promise you that it will be REAL, and perhaps even SO real that I and certain readers are uncomfortable, especially from someone in a position of ministry leadership. Your paradigms or stereotypes may be broken; you may think, “did he just say that?” or “did he just admit that?” or “doesn’t he know that?” But that is OK with me.

If we make the standard, “I want to be comfortable reading this” or “I want someone I can put on a pedestal” then we had better not read Scripture and certainly we better read Jesus through a lenses like Ralph Reed and Rush Limbaugh than who He is in Scripture ... despised by the conservatives of the day and folks who prefer symmetry versus imbalance and verbal gallows to God’s grace. I love the passage where David cuts off Saul’s robe when he’s taking a leak and says “nah, nah. I could have killed you” or when Jesus tells the crowds “you’re just following me because you got food!” ... The Bible is VERY real and that confirms with my sense of God’s oh too realness in my own life and the need for Christians to be real because the realities of the world are real and often they REALLY suck.

As I look at Scripture I see figures all the way back from Moses and David to Paul and Peter who are “oh too human” and say things like ‘the things I don’t want to do I do and the things I want to do I don’t do; what a wretched man I am” to “I was sinful since the day I was conceived”. Remember the patriarchs of our faith were godly, wonderful men (and the matriarchs, Godly women!), but they were also murderers, adulterers, and oh too human for our comfort. The Gospel or good news is in fact only good when it is heard in the context of the bad and not in a Christian Geneva (Calvin) or a Family Bookstore, or a Christian mall.

Uncomfortable is OK, as long as it makes me, and you think AND it is not hyperbole or dramatic exhibitionism – like when someone does something (like those stupid reality TV shows where girls are getting in fights and psychodrama) where you say, “that is not real, that is just people acting like they would really do that if they weren’t on TV!”

So if you are looking for that flawless pulpiteer who can say hard or deep things without crying, or easy things without getting tongue-tied, or technical things without being geeky, I’m NOT your man. If you are looking for the codependent and people-pleasing priest who will always caress your back (and wallet) with kind words, that is also not me (I’m sadly not discerning enough and I choose not to know the finances of who gives what). If you are looking for the Pastor who is so poised, so flawless, with a veneer that is iconically Divine, I am sorry but that is also not me (I grew up and attended public schools in Pittsburgh...superbowl champs, by the way). I honestly ask God quite often why He would trust or use someone like me in a position of such authority and influence, and I constantly hear (like I do when I take communion last in the service), “Jonathan, I love you and that is why this is all grace”. I am profoundly under grace and God’s mercy because the good news lies on the bad news of my own sinful, broken and fallen soul.

I do REALLY love people. I have known that ever since I tried to punch my boyhood friend in the face (we were in a scuttle) and missed; and I felt horrible. AND I really love God. I have known that ever since I dropped Him out of my life and missed Him dearly. And I am consistently through and through human (that’s not a problem to remember). You’ll definitely get that through this blog. And hopefully I’ll encourage you through my own weakness and vulnerability, and lead you on through His strength working in me. Anyone who knows me will recognize that it is definitely not coming from me so it must be Him.

Peace to you all.

An enemy of God, a hostile to Christ, a sinner saved by grace,