Friday, April 13, 2012

The Messenger is the Message

Another Easter has come and gone. This year I spent that afternoon planting seeds (literally not in the overused Christian metaphor sort of way). It seemed appropriate for the occasion. The morning was spent in church. I tend to pay extra attention to Easter and Christmas sermons, mostly because I'm always curious as to the different ways pastors choose to approach the stories their audience is the most familiar with without simply repeating themselves year after year.

This time the sermon surprised me. It wasn't the eloquent oration on resurrection and eternity that one would have expected. Rather, the pastor spent most of his time speaking on the idea of bringing life to places where there once was death and how that is the true call of Christianity. That is what the actions of Christians should always seek to do - bring life and light to dark and death filled areas. To my relief he didn't expand on that be relying on excessively cumbersome messages of spiritual metaphors in the context of evangelism. Rather the example he gave was one of love and acceptance towards others in all circumstances and the powerful impact that makes. I've been thinking about it a lot this week.

I've been thinking about it in the context of all of my personal disappointments with the American church as well as the narrative of Jesus' life we find in the gospels. The more I think about it, I keep coming back to the same thought:

The messenger is the message.

Perhaps that is the core message of Christianity when you boil it all down. Not just in the sense that Jesus is the core message of our faith, but in the sense that we are the message of Jesus to the world. Perhaps that is what Paul meant in the Bible when he said "If I speak in tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." (1 Cor. 13:1) What if when the book of Hebrews tells us that "The word of God is living and active..." (Heb 4:12) it doesn't simply mean that reading the Bible can spark inspiration to motivate us, but also that the true word of God is meant to be lived out in an active manner as we seek to live our lives in the example Christ example that spent time with the marginalized, objected to legalistic religious leaders, sought to heal people's pain, and put others before himself.

I can't help but wonder, if the messenger really is the message, what message are most churches and Christians sending to those around them?

This week I haven't been able to stop thinking about it and the more I do, the more I keep coming to the same conclusion:

The messenger is the message.

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