Wednesday, September 9, 2015

What would Jesus do?

The other day, I was manning a booth for our church at a local "Taste of..." event when a middle-aged guy came up and asked me, "How can I get rid of my sins?"

Right then, I suddenly realized I didn't like any of my answers to that question. I had officially lost my elevator speech. I fumbled and danced around the issue, partly because he was clearly baiting me.

He was obviously a Christian guy who, for whatever reason fancied himself the Chicagoland doctrine police, and I felt like he'd thrown down the gauntlet, and here I was, with no shield and sword to protect myself.

So he was baiting me, but also I realized most of the pat answers that were rattling around in the darkest recesses of my brain were pretty dusty, and were no longer resonating with me.

After this guy left, feeling like he'd trumped me with his question, I found myself wrestling with shame that sprang from my apparent inability to put Peter's command to "always be prepared" into action, but more importantly thinking, "Wait a minute. What was that supposed to accomplish?"

Was he supposed to be representing the seeker to me? If so, he failed. Honestly, what's the likelihood that any modern seeker would EVER ask that question? I'd say it's about zero.

After he was long gone (of course) I came up with the perfect response. I thought, "When he asked, 'How can I get rid of my sins?' why didn't I just do what Jesus would have done, and say "Why do you ask?"


  1. I think most people that are asking themselves that same question, will not come out and ask someone else about it. I think they would bring up a generalization discussion and then state their own view, hoping that the person they are talking to would give a reaction to it, be it positive or negative. Too many of us are walking around in search of what we consider the "perfect answer", and what we think it might be, could be totally wrong. That's just me saying. I could be totally off!

    1. Totally agree. But I would even go farther - I would say that question isn't even in most people's heads unless we put it there. We feel like we have to sell people on the idea that they are broken before we can swing in like Tarzan to save the day with our solution. That's why I've never had to answer that question before in 10 years of full-time ministry.

      Sin issues are addressed in relationship, not on the midway at a carnival.

  2. At the Conspire conference last summer, Richard Rohr said, on clergy job security, "It all started with original blessing, but for some DAMNED reason, and I do mean "DAMNED", the Christian story line started with a foundational 'no': original sin. Clergy needed to convince us how sinful we are, and that, yeah, we have the answer"! - Richard Rohr.