The girl did come to church. I was a little surprised. Even though she needed it for Women’s Studies, there is a great gulf between Portland and a Baptist church, and I am always surprised when someone ventures across it. Even if only in body.
The preacher preached that the deepest mystery is that Jesus, “being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)
He urged us all to have this same mind and attitude of sacrificial humility as Christ.
The passage also goes on to say –
“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
( Philippians 2:7-11)
The preacher concluded “In your heart you will either have Jesus on the throne and yourself on the cross, or you will have youself on the throne and Jesus still on the cross.”
Then my dad got up, said a few words, and invited me, “Caleb, will you come and lead us in a closing song.” I had been thinking of leading the hymn, “Wash Me and I Shall Be Whiter than Snow,” based on those words from Psalm 51, which David wrote after committing adultery with a woman and murdering her husband. But I decided against it because there were guests and the preacher was black, and though I think everyone can understand about washing things clean and white, I did not want anyone to be distracted by any silly thoughts: “Oh he’s black and they want him to be white like them.” I strongly dislike it when people pull a double entendre out of someone’s words.
I led “Take my Life and Let it Be” to the beautiful Melanesian hymn tune “God yu tekkem laef blong mi.”
We sang “Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise.”
Afterward, the girl said “Bye Caleb. See you Monday.” I could not help thinking that it would have been very easy to forget about Women’s studies while singing “Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee, Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of thy love” and while hearing that you either have Christ on the throne of your heart, or have him on a cross, and you are on the throne of your life.
Jesus’ call is more fundamental than the differences of gender. To deny yourself and take up your cross is fundamental. Total surrender and a new life in Jesus is on the soul level, and men and women both have souls. Christianity does not emphasis the difference between Men and Women. Men and women have some different roles in this life, but with God the emphasis is on our souls.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
But does not this take a lot of the thrill out of life? A lot of the thrill of the romance the Beach Boys sang about about good looking girls? I remember one time being at a little league practice, and one of the dads was catching for some boy pitcher (side note: baseball is the most beautiful game), and some young lady walked by, and instead of keeping his eye on the ball, as it were, he turned his head and followed the lady with his eyes. “Hey, did you see your dad?” said one of the boys. “He was like *imitation*.” “Well, I’m still a man!” said the father, by way of justification. He had not given up on his very self – he was still a man.
I do not remember what the lady in question looked like, but I do remember the philosophy – that it is absolutely fundamental to man to look on the outside of (good looking) women with hungry desire.
Am not I charming? I have a different philosophy. So respectful of women. Respecting them as souls, not as meat. But this is a fundamental part of what I believe: we are all evil. Men and women, good looking, bad looking, rich, poor, clever and not so clever – all are souls equally needy of salvation. That part of my beliefs about everyone being evil is usually not regarded as quite so charming in Portland as the part about respecting women as equals of men.
I saw a car the other day that had the hard hearted bumper sticker: “It’s easier to change condoms than diapers.” Ah, easier. That’s what we want right? It had another sticker with a version of the supposed Ghandi quote: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” (I cannot verify that is an actual Ghandi quote. It seems like a rephrasing of a few quotes.) This is a clever attack on Christians who of course do not think they are as good as Christ. They can be deceived and think “If only I, the representative of Jesus, were more like Jesus and these people could really see in me who Jesus is, than they would accept him and me.” But the truth is, Jesus was killed by the people of his day. I do not think the people of today who say such things as “we like Jesus, but not his followers” really would like the real Jesus if he were talking to them. The one who said the things recorded in the Bible:
“He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” Matt. 12:30
How are you going to disagree with that one? To maintain neutrality you have to oppose. “I oppose Jesus in the idea that you can’t be neutral toward him, because I am neutral…toward Jesus”? Or do you say, “Hey Don’t judge me! I’m not gonna be for Jesus or the devil, I’m just gonna hang out on the beach. I won’t be ‘scattering abroad’, I’ll just be surfing’”
On the sleeve notes (remember LP sleeve notes – that was its own literary genre) to the Beach Boys album All Summer Long was this quote supposedly from Dennis Wilson:
“They say I live a fast life. Maybe I just like a fast life. I wouldn’t give it up for anything in the world. It won’t last forever, either. But the memories will.”
But have you never heard the story of how in 1968 Dennis Wilson picked up some lady hitch-hikers and brought them to his house – (were they giving him “good vibrations”? From outward appearance can you “know she must be kind”) He left them there while he went to a recording session and when he returned a whole bunch of ladies had shown up at his house, along with the leader of their gang, Charles Manson. For awhile Manson and Wilson were friends (when he came home that first night, apparently Manson met him in the driveway and kissed his feet – yuck) but after a time the madness of Manson and his ‘family’ wore on him, and like in one of those old-wive’s tales where to escape a bogey infestation the people have to move out of their own house, Dennis Wilson left the house, stopped paying rent, and let the ‘family’ face eviction.
The Cauld Lad of Hilton by John D. Batten
I won’t blame Wilson for Manson’s crimes, but I can’t but feel that once you’re living fast, it is hard to control how deep of water you are in. I’m sure these were not fun memories for Dennis Wilson. Speaking of demon infestation, Brian Wilson reports now to hearing voices telling him such things as, “We love you, we need you” and “We hate you” and “We’re gonna kill you.” God help us! It’s not that I want to be meanly accuse these guys. My point is just that the fast surfer life of trivial pleasure-seeking neutrality is a mirage and definitely won’t last forever. So give it up. Which brings us back to things Jesus said:
If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Matt. 16:24-27
Is not this insulting to the essence of who we are? Having to give up our very selves.
Maybe I just like my life, and wouldn’t give it up for anything?
Hear the invitation – Give up your life! You will find life! And it will last forever. “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” Romans 6:23
Further ‘insulting’ us, Jesus told us how he would die for us. “To give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) As if our only hope of salvation was in someone taking the death penalty for us! Are you putting me on the same level with Charles Manson and Squeaky Fromme? Don’t you mean maybe a little community service for me, Jesus?
When Jesus was talking about how he was going to be killed and rejected and rise again, Peter told him that it would not happen. He replied, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Matt 16:23
Where did this idea come from of a cool Jesus that would not make you uncomfortable?
Did you say you wanted the Christians to be more like Christ? Just remember – he was more of a radical fundamentalist than the radical fundamentalists, not less. The one who fed the hungry and healed the lepers calls you satan if you “savour” “the things of men.” – If you are bound to this world’s vain ideas and oppose his radical way to save us – the shedding of his blood, the loss of his life.
Jesus said: “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost,” (Luke 19:10). Is he going to just tell everyone that they are okay, that they are not lost? Did the doctors who worked on ‘Treeman’ just say, you are okay, no problem here, to try and heal him? Of course not!
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could appreciate Jesus’ forgiveness like Dede might feel if he were healed. I would sing with wonder, “And can it be that I should gain an Interest in my Saviour’s blood?” Can it be, that there would be a cure for me? Can it be that I who have been oppressed every moment of every day of my life with this disease of sin could be healed?
Jesus was eating with a Pharisee named Simon when “behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.
Would we who are “still men” (still living in our bodies) understand it better if deliverance could be seen in the outward appearance? How grateful would I feel if I had some horrible skin disease like Dede, and Jesus healed me? Well, Jesus also healed lepers, so some did get to feel that (and they didn’t all say thank you) May I love as one forgiven much!
I see that if I talk about everyone I talked to or saw down at PCC (and ride each train of thought they start me on) this will be a long paper and I am trying to make it short. To the point. Brief.