August 26, 2010

Jesus & Barry Manilow

Barry Manilow is an anomaly. I don't get Barry Manilow. Even more so, I don't get people who LIKE Barry Manilow. I would honestly rather be stabbed in the eye with an icepick than endure "Copacabana" one more time! Barry is in this category - one that's actually hard to define. And he's not alone. He's joined by others like the New York Yankees, Rush Limbaugh, and Jerry Jones. To use the words of Bob Wiley ("What About Bob"), "There are 2 kinds of people in this world. Those who like Neil Diamond and those who don't." Love or hate. No middle of the road. I may live "Forever in Blue Jeans", but the song makes me want to puke. While I know it may not sound very nice (or even decent) to many, I think this is what it's supposed to be like with Jesus as well.

The greatest disciple-maker in history was the worst church planter known to mankind. At least by our standards. Most church planters start with 5-10 people and begin trying to grow. Prayerfully, desperately trying to grow! Jesus - He started with mobs and multitudes of people and kept running them off. It was almost like He kept saying, "OK, the group's still too big. Everyone who had fish for dinner go on home." Obviously this was not the case - especially since He multiplied the fish. But Jesus kept saying things that I believe He was being DEAD serious about - things that stunned and repulsed the initially enamored - that seemed to say, "You're either going to love me - follow me - or you're going to hate me and walk away." You see in Matthew 19 that Jesus doesn't run after the Rich Young Man who walks away. His heart is broken for him, but He doesn't chase after him.

Jesus kept saying things like "If you want to come after me...." And He'd follow it up with things like "Your love for me will have to almost make your love for your mom & dad, brother & sister look like hate!" And "You better count the costs of what it will mean to follow me." And the evidence that many then - and many still now - don't get it is revealed in places like Revelation 3 where He says, "I wish you were either hot or cold. But since you are like lukewarm water, I will spit you out of my mouth!" Jesus isn't playing games. He's not looking for ANYONE who's 1/2 committed! And He's not begging and pleading you to follow Him. He's offering you LIFE!

Bono once made this statement:
"Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn't allow you that. He doesn't let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I'm not saying I'm a teacher, don't call me teacher. I'm not saying I'm a prophet. I'm saying: "I'm the Messiah." I'm saying: "I am God incarnate." And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You're a bit eccentric. We've had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don't mention the "M" word! Because, you know, we're gonna have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no. I know you're expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he's gonna keep saying this. So what you're left with is: Either Christ was who He said He was—the Messiah—or a complete nutcase."

While the idea of putting Jesus & Barry in the same category makes me queazy, the truth remains. Take it or leave it. Love it or hate it. "Follow me"...or walk away. Jesus asked the disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" Peter said, "You are the CHRIST, the Son of the Living God." 

What do you say?

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