I seriously have several blogs written up but not posted entitled "I do not think that word means what you think it means." In part it is because I am a child of the 80's and love the Princess Bride. But, in larger part, it's because I find myself confused by the juxtaposition of words and actions.
Churches with rainbow signs reading "All are welcome here" ...and a no trespassing sign right next to it. I do not think welcome means what you think it means.
The word Evangelical which is derived from words meaning person of the good news, applied to the man with a sign listing the various people who are all going to Hell with teeny tiny words at the bottom that say "Unless you repent and receive Jesus." (What does it even mean to receive Jesus?) I do not think good news means what you think it means.
There's this new term "Convictional Christians." (I wonder how Christ feels about all the modifiers we attach to our words for indicating not that we follow Christ but that we're not like those other people who don't follow Christ right.) But this one group believes that they are living on their convictions vs the people who are open and affirming. People who have lost jobs, funding (like Christ Church in Portland), family, friends, and so much more because they are living out a conviction that following Jesus means welcoming everyone. I do not think convictional means what you think it means.
But the one that got me today was a tweet from Christianity Today. They tweeted that Evangelicals (people of good news) are "divided over whether immigrants are drain on resources or an opportunity to share Jesus."
Now, I'm rarely snarky on social media. But that doesn't mean there aren't hundreds of snarky tweets that never actually get tweeted. Like ranting in the mirror, if you were my mirror or my computer screen, you'd know how snarky, hurt, wounded, and sarcastic I can be before I take a breath, step back, and ask what good this tweet will bring into the world.
Anyway, my snarky tweet that never got tweeted was "Really? I wonder if Jesus was inwardly divided over whether fishermen were a drain on his resources or an opportunity to share himself." As I looked at those words, knowing I'd close the window - and no one including me would see their sarcastic unproductiveness again - in only a moment, it hit me: I do not think that word means what they think it means.
I had this momentary clear image of Jesus breaking bread and sharing wine and saying: "This is me. Please, take and eat it - even you there at the end of the table, the one who will betray me and bring my fruitful ministry to a screeching painful halt. Eat. Let me share myself."
I had this image of the Jesus who went to a dead friend to revive him even though he knew it was the beginning of his end.
I had this image of the Jesus who invited sinners, fishermen, and tax collectors to come and live with him.
I had this image of the Jesus who stayed up all night praying for his sleeping disciples, expending all of his energy composing a virtual sonnet for their future.
I had this image of Jesus telling his disciples that it's their job to feed the thousands of hungry people camped out to hear him speak.
I had this image of Jesus welcoming children when others are pushing them away.
I had all these pictures of Jesus rushing in my head and I looked at the words "opportunity to share himself." And it came to me that those words - share Jesus - do not mean what we have slowly adapted them to mean. To share Jesus is to pour out your resources into another. In the work of sharing Jesus, we cannot be divided over whether a person is a drain on our resources or an opportunity to share Jesus, because living after Jesus and offering his holistic good news is - in its very nature - a glorious drain on resources. To share Jesus is to intentionally drain your resources in wait for the great feast when everyone - immigrant or not (though we should remember most of us here in the US are illegal immigrants), housed or unhoused, LGBTQIA or "Convictional Christian" - and so on until everyone is invited and welcomed in - will all sit down at a table to have our resources eternally replenished.
Like a child clutching her favorite doll: we cannot share while hoarding. We can only share by opening our arms and being drained of a resource.
I do not think those words mean what they think they mean.
And I hope today my neighbors who were not born in America and my neighbors who live outside and my neighbors who are suffering with addiction and my neighbors who are not able or interested in tithing are a drain on my resources. Because today I hope I follow the Jesus who sat down with various sinners, traitors, and poor people and said: "Here. This is my last physical resource. This is my body and blood. Please, take it. Eat. Be nourished. Let me share myself with you."
Today I hope my resources are drained because I accept an opportunity to truly share Jesus.