Monday, September 29, 2008

Infinite Crisis: Superboy-Prime (or "The road to Hell...")

One scary character, that's what he is. Looks like a hero, but he ain't.

Long story short: DC held in reserve the Earth-Prime Superboy (note the hyphen) with his amazing powers and rescued him from Crisis on Infinite Earths, by having him live in a paradise dimension with Kal-L/Superman of Earth 2 and his wife, Lois. Then in some strange and weird editorial decision had him become a psycho who could not get over the loss of his universe, of not being the hero he wanted to be, of not having the life he wanted to have.

He escapes and ends up becoming an evil "Superman" with a hundred times the strength of any other Superman. Far more powerful than all other DC heroes combined, and unleashed into the latest universe, he ends up brutally beating many heroes to death, including the Kal-L (Earth-2) Superman, before he's stopped and imprisoned.

Its a dark and overcast day outside, and I am still emotionally recovering from a man-centered sermon from yesterday. This is an ugly rant for a Christ-follower so hang on. I certainly don't want to become Superboy-Prime.

But I keep running into the "do something for Jesus" crowd and then watch as they spend zero time empowering or equipping the saints, of getting them whole and hale so they can proclaim the Good News with a holy love. I am getting angry at being told to do something without being told it must be 1) by the Spirit and 2) according to Biblical principles and patterns.

Yesterday I had to sit through a message that ended with saying "Be courageous like this guy in the Bible and tell someone about Jesus." That ain't a bad message per se. There's only one problem: the guy mentioned was not out to "tell someone about Jesus".

He was out to serve a bunch of widows who weren't getting their food from the food bank.

He was out to do God's will, whatever it was. It wasn't about him having a noble calling. It was about loving Jesus.

He knew God so personally, that in his last speech, he gave an oral history of the nation of Israel before he told his 'religious' elders off as a bunch of JERKS wouldn't know the Holy Spirit if he showed up at their front door. As they attack him, killing his physical body, Jesus himself stands up from his throne to welcome this friend of His into heaven.

Yes, I am talking about the first martyr of the Christian church, Stephen - who was a waiter 'cause the disciples didn't think it appropriate to serve food when they could preach instead. They handed that job off to seven other guys, one of whom was Stephen.

And that is precisely why this passage was so poorly handled by cemetary - I mean seminary-trained professional. You see, I go to a big church in which pastors get paid to tell you how to live the "right way." In such churches, you get paid to 1) organize, 2) talk about money and budgets, and 3) tell people to be better.

They do not get paid to 1) feed widows, 2) work miracles or 3) invite the Holy Spirit to lead them. Like Moses killing that Egyptian taskmaster in Exodus 2, they've got the right idea but are going about it the wrong way.

While at first it doesn't sound bad, it ends up constantly pushing people to do this or do that.

And that backfires because no one likes being shoved. We quit loving God.

Immediately after this message, I ran into an older man who's losing his wife in a nursing home and he flatly said he wasn't coming back. He was in need of grace and healing and strengthening as many of us are.

He wasn't told how God sends saints to widows in need, how God welcomes and embraces those who desire Him, or how no matter how dark the situation is, God is still at work, all very reasonable and proper uses for the text. Good uses. Nope. He was given the double-barrels of "you should be more courageous."

The kicker in the teeth a the end of this message: "Have a great day."

Not a blessing. Not an empowerment by God. Nope, just a man-based "Have a nice day" wish.

No closing worship. No hymns. Just - "Go get 'em!" positivism.

I love my church. I love very many of the saints who attend there. I even personally like the pastor who taught the message.

I am sick over this.

Let me show this utter desire of Jesus Christ to know YOU so you too can end up safe in the arms of Christ, not running around helter-skelter.

Matthew 7:15-23
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'"


You see how awful it is? You can use the name of Jesus to get a lot of things done - even miracles - but the PRIME goal is that you know Him enough that you and He are intimates.

Everyone knows about Jesus. Heck, even Satan knows about Him.

But Jesus only knows those who invite Him in - who call on Him to be their Lord, their Redeemer, their Friend.

True evangelism is granting others freedom from guilt and offering a true intimacy with God. It is not about "getting people off their duffs" and "being courageous for Jesus!" You do not have to make a big noise. You have to know Him and how good He is. You will never shut up about Him once you realize His love, His grace.

That's the "Good News" not the "guilt evangelism" so many preachers espouse.

Jesus said it succinctly in the Gospel of John: "Abide in Me - apart from Me you can do nothing."

Thank you for reading my rant.

Now don't do ANYTHING for Jesus. Just get to KNOW Him and make sure He knows YOU.

The rest will come naturally, I assure you.

Or supernaturally - as the case may be. ;)

Amen.

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