“You Have Just ONE Job!”

“You had just ONE job!” You’ve heard the line before when someone drops the ball on the only task they’ve been given to do. I love the Geico commercial where a guy who is putting down chalk lines at a baseball field starts daydreaming that he’s swerving through the mountains on his motorcycle singing, “Build Me Up Butter Cup.” He snaps out of it to find curvy chalk lines all over the baseball field. He’s coworker looks on with dismay and says, “Oh, Karl! What have you done?!” He asks, “Do you think anyone will notice?” Hilarious.

The older I get the more simple the Christian faith becomes (NOT easy, but simple). Our one job is to form little communities that reflect and show the world “The Jesus Way” to human flourishing. Jesus calls it the Kingdom, and says, “Seek first the Kingdom and His justice,” and everything else will fall into its proper place as well.

But we get easily sidetracked with other well-meaning Christian projects — some of them good and noble, but others are deeply misguided or even idolatrous. Such as trying to govern the kingdoms of the world, to “take back America for God,” and other Babel-inspired projects.

I’ve been warning for years that the church needs to put less time stressing about worldly politics, and instead get busy learning to understand, live by and live out the Jesus-shaped politics of the upside down Kingdom of the Cross. The Kingdom of God is for believers to practice in Christian communities under the power of the Spirit and by redeemed people who have submitted their lives to King Jesus. Jesus did come to earth to provide some timeless moral, economic, and political principles that can be implemented in the fallen world of corrupt politics.

“You have just ONE job! To look like Jesus.”

But good Americans are too damn ambitious, activistic, enterprising, and impatient to opt out of the “take the world back by worldly power and tactics” game, and do the hard patient work of cultivating a counter culture on the margins of society that can speak prophetic truth to mainstream culture and power-players. We hard-working, middle class Americans always want to do something. We want to “fix it.” We want to play God, sorting out the wheat from the tares (instead of waiting for Jesus to do it), and try to build the Kingdom of God on earth by worldly political means instead of learning to worship the Lamb who sits on the Lion’s throne. Now many noses are brown with the stank of Trump, the unbelieving world associates Jesus with Trumpism, and the reputation of the White Evangelical church is (probably) irreparably muddied by this unholy allegiance.

To answer Karl’s question here: “Yes, people are noticing.”

“You had just ONE stinking job, Christian!” I suspect Jesus emotes to the Father and Spirit looking on. Is it not an ambitious enough cause to plant a million little colonies of Christlikeness across this globe? Is it not enterprising enough to launch a worldwide movement that calls people OUT from every, tribe, tongue and nation out of their respective earthly nations to form one, holy, unified family in the Messiah that shows all the world powers what true power and might look like?

“You had just ONE stinking job! To look like Jesus.”

Our one job is this: Gather a people together around the radical, upside-down, counter-intuitive cross-shaped ethical vision of Jesus of Nazareth. Turn off the cable news. Get off of Facebook. Drop Twitter. Pick up our Bibles and open to the red letters. Watch how Jesus interacts with others. Watch how he speaks. Watch who he attracts. Watch who he repels. Watch him sacrifice. Watch him pray. Watch him forgive. Watch him undress the religious power brokers. Watch him elevate the downtrodden. Watch him live simply. Watch him give generously. Watch him. And “go and do likewise.” (We’re gathering Wednesday nights for “Luke by the Lake” to immerse ourselves in Jesus’ words.)

“You had just ONE stinking job! To look like Jesus.”

I’m both grieved and grateful for this apocalyptic moment for American Christianity. (‘Apocalyptic’ literally means an unmasking or revealing of what’s been hiding beneath the surface.) My heart both throbs and is thrilled at this clarifying moment that is revealing the barren tree that is much of American Christianity. “My father prunes whatever branches don’t bear fruit, and throws them in the fire,” Jesus says in John 15. What kind of fruit? Character and deeds, and communities, that look like Jesus.

“You have just ONE job! To look like Jesus.”

Should we get back to work? MainStreet desires to be one such Christlike colony of Christians, living as resident aliens and temporary sojourners in this worldly nation state in America. The King will return someday — hopefully soon — but will he find little communities of Christlike, cross-shaped, enemy-loving people? Or will he find the shit-show that is being paraded across social media in this dark moment. (Don’t judge my language, as the Apostle Paul didn’t shrink back from using the same word in the New Testament – see Phil 3:8 where the English word “garbage” or “rubbish” is translating the Greek word “shit.”)

As I walked in the blistering heat and swampy humidity of a 95 degree Minnesota summer day, I had this thought come to mind as I reflected on the state of the American church in 2021: I was warned to beware of wolves who come dressed in sheep’s clothing. I just never expected to live to see so many sheep dressed up and acting like wolves. #Lament #Repent #JesusShapedChristianity

We have just ONE job, church. Are we immersing ourselves in Jesus’ words and actions, and reflecting him well in our interactions with others? He said, “I am the TRUTH,” so are we walking in the truth, or believing and spreading lies and conspiracies? He summed the entire faith up into two commandments: Love God and love neighbor.

We have just ONE job, church. Let’s follow Jesus and cultivate a community where the divine love of the Trinity can be lived out and experienced in a way that ripples out to the watching world. Let Psalm 1 be a heart-check as we move into the hot summer months. Are we planted by the stream? Or, as Jesus would update it and apply to himself, “Do we have his Living Water coursing through our veins?”

How well God must like you—
    you don’t walk in the ruts of those blind-as-bats,
    you don’t stand with the good-for-nothings,
    you don’t take your seat among the know-it-alls.

2-3 Instead you thrill to God’s Word,
    you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden,
    bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf,
    always in blossom.

4-5 You’re not at all like the wicked,
    who are mere windblown dust—
Without defense in court,
    unfit company for innocent people.

God charts the road you take.
The road they take leads to nowhere

(Psalm 1:1-6 The Message).

Grace and peace!

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