[Reposted from my church's blog]
It’s been said that teachers teach what they need to learn. I’ve come to believe the same is true for preachers’ preaching. Or, at least, it is for me.
Last weekend we engaged Matthew 9.9-13, thinking together about how anyone can follow Jesus. In other words, everyone is invited. Even tax collectors. Even Jane Fonda. There are no forms to be filled out in triplicate. There is no application. There is no asterisk.
This is something I’m continuing to learn. And all good learning happens in community. Which means that I often learn just as much – if not more - after preaching a sermon that I do before. Reading books and commentaries prior to sharing from the Scriptures is one kind of learning. Hearing how the text is being lived out – how the community of Good Shepherd puts flesh on God’s Word – is quite another, more profound way of learning.
Two things have come to light following our time together this past weekend:
First, the bit about Jane Fonda. I came across the story of Fonda’s conversion in Rob Bell’s latest book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God. The book has no specific connection to the text we read or series we’re engaged in. I was just struck by her statement,
“I could feel reverence humming in me.”
This was a new phenomenon in her life, as she had lived the previous phases of her life as an atheist. When she protested the Vietnam war. When she donned a leotard and leggings as a fitness instructor. But then, in the midst of a difficult divorce? Reverence.
What I didn’t recall when I first came across her story was the profound connection with Matthew, the tax collector. Each of them, before realizing the revernce humming within them, before leaving the booths behind which they’d stood, both Matthew and Jane were traitors to their country, their tribe, their people.
Last Sunday afternoon I began wondering if Jane Fonda had ever apologized for her actions so long ago. I came across a number of interviews where she expresses deep regret and offers apologies.
Secondly, you may recall that at the outset of our thinking through the text I mentioned what preceded Matthew 9.9-13, specifically the first 8 verses of the chapter, where we read of men carrying a paralytic to Jesus to be healed by Him. Then, Jesus calls Matthew, which upsets the religious folks. And in response, Jesus says,
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Sometime the next Monday it hit me. Though Jesus is eating dinner at Matthew’s home, He discusses His interaction with “sinners” by pointing back to His interaction with the paralytic – and the paralytic’s friends (and their faith) – in verses 1-8. Jesus purposely discusses the healthy and the sick, meaning – perhaps – that those of us who sense this reverence humming within us, those of us who have stood up and walked away from our booths, who have recognized our sickness and are being healed by Jesus, we have a responsibility to carry our friends mats.
What better time for us to remember this, as our Not A Fan series comes to a close at our Easter celebrations on March 30th and 31st!? May we, as those who sense this revernce humming within us, those of us who’ve stood up and walked away from our booths, may we carry the mats of our friends and family to the One who not only brings us into new life, but who Himself the firstfruits of this new life!
Grab an invite card next time you’re on campus or click onto our e-Invite to invite friends to worship with us this Easter weekend!