Powerful — October 12, 2011

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It’s what every human being wants, even though some would insist in false humility that they are perfectly satisfied with owning the lower seat.  Yes, we all want a sense of power, control and destiny for our journey.

Matter of fact, if Jesus had presented his material for his Sermon on the Mount, seeking assistance for organizing his ideas, no modern-day speechwriter worth his brackets, commas and syntax would ever have suggested that he begin with the Beatitudes. They all would have thought he was bringing too much responsibility to the hearers before giving them the chance to become sold out on the more appealing proposals.  No, I think any ghost-writing helper for Jesus would have insisted that he begin his Sermon with, “You are the salt of the earth and you are the light of the world.” Here would be their conclusion–empower the people and bury the personal difficulty more deeply within the context. But that’s not what Jesus did. He made it clear that if we don’t “get simple” and begin to realize that if our choices don’t determine our success, then we’re at the mercy of nature, other people, or dare I even say?–God.  Get simple–realize that the only way to change the complexion of your own situation is to pop your own pimples.

Now, after completing this successful personal analysis and realizing that our own progression is determined by our decisions, we then reach the point where we can be powerful.  We ARE the salt of the earth and we ARE the light of the world.  Why? Because we have walked into a room filled with mediocrity, and rather than joining in, we have established our own standard. We’ve tasted the soup and rather than eating a bland broth, we’ve selected to flavor it. We’ve entered an enclosure that is totally dark and lit a candle.

And the reason we have done so is that we don’t want to spend one minute of our lives in regret. Regret is what people who could have accomplished much more feel when they’ve given in to the blandness around them instead of reaching into themselves to turn their seed of talent into a fruit of success. When I get around folks who regret something or other, I know that I’m also in the presence of individuals who have decided somewhere along the line to do less than they could have done.

So what makes us powerful?  It certainly is not being granted power. Dare I say that most of the people who have held the position of President of the United States are not only forgettable, but in many cases, they ended up through their mediocre choices, doing more harm than good. Granting power  to us is like giving the keys to a Ferrari to a five-year-old. You can perch him behind the wheel, but he doesn’t have the foggiest idea how to start the car, let alone drive it.

Actually, we become powerful when we decide to take on our own lives without blaming anyone else, get simple, and make three very important choices:

1. “I don’t want to hurt me.” Rather than rationalizing all of our bad habits, fears, insecurities and prejudices, we confront them because we know they’re hurting us–and the only way pain will leave is when we force these ridiculous vices out of our circle of influence.

2. “I don’t want to hurt you.” Once I realize that the relief of pain is so comforting and joyous, I become evangelistic to make sure that you, too, do not have to experience the agony of ridiculous propositions. I will never learn to care about you until I sufficiently care about myself. And I will never care about myself until I realize that my personal pot of gold is located at the end of my willingness to deal with my inadequacies.

3.  “Because I don’t want to hurt me and I don’t want to hurt you, therefore I can’t hurt God.” God is not angered by sin that is acknowledged and confessed. God is not infuriated with those who fail if they quickly discover the error and set in motion restitution. There are only two things that cause God to feel alienated from you:  (a) when you don’t care, and (b) when you’re willing to lie about the fact that you don’t care.

How apropos for Jesus to refer to us as salt–a common flavoring–and light–illumination of the surrounding environment. It’s perfect. And what an excellent time it is to live in this society!  Because I will tell you, this is one of the most mediocre periods I have seen in six decades of living. We have learned to settle for so little that if people would just step the game up in a tiny increment, they would be like a  bright beam in the cosmos.  As Jesus said, people would be able to see our good works and glorify the Father in heaven.

I am often astounded that we expect our congregations to come in to praise and worship God when their lives do not demonstrate any improvement or sign of progress. What are we praising? What are we worshipping? Jesus made it clear that nobody glorifies God without seeing other people’s good works! If we can’t raise up a body of believers who have decided to “get simple” and discover their own frailties and move them into the realm of improvement, why do we think anybody would be interested in the message that propels us? After all, I do not walk into a dirty house and ask the owners what kind of cleansers they use. It would seem cruel, not to mention stupid. Neither do I walk into a place where people preach a gospel which leaves their constituency dull and unfeeling and inquire as to how I might become a member.

We become powerful when we get simple and set into motion three holy practices:

  • I don’t want to hurt me.
  • I don’t want to hurt you.
  • Therefore, I can’t hurt God.

With that trio of breezes at our back, we can sail on with confidence and feel energized by our beliefs instead of ransacked. The Sermon on the Mount WAS put in the right order–Jesus began with personal evaluation–informing us of the miracle of “getting simple.” And then he followed it with the power we discover through that evaluation and those choices, which begins to remove the hurt so that we can feel pleasure again. I even sense an explosion in my soul as I write this to you because I don’t want to hurt me anymore–and I don’t want to hurt you. And because of that, I know that it’s impossible for me to be separated from the love of God.

So what’s next? What do we acquire after we decide to “get simple” and be powerful?

On the morrow.

***************

Jonathan sings “Let”

Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”

Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

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