You Ain’t Jesus, Preacher, Part One: The Tower of Babel

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Everyone has identity issues now and again. Maybe you don’t know who you are or don’t like who you think you might be. Maybe you’re a little too close to your mother, or maybe you live vicariously through your children. Maybe you think you’re Clint Eastwood or wish you were Jennifer Lopez.

The point is we all have times when we’re not sure who we are. It’s a human thing.

I HAVE noticed that most people do not think they are Jesus. There’s Jesus Christ, who lived two thousand years ago, and there’s you. My guess is you’re having no trouble keeping this straight in your mind. Am I right?

So why is it ministers have trouble with this? Have you noticed how many ministers think they’re Jesus? How grandiose is that? The minister can’t have normal issues like everyone else, oh no. If the preacher is going to get enmeshed with someone, it’s going to be with the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

I’m serious now. We need 12-step program.

“Hi. My name is pastor Pete, and I think I’m Jesus.”

(All together now) “Hi Pastor Pete!”

I know a lot about this because I’m a minister, and sometimes I think I’M Jesus. Not all the time, mind you, but sometimes I do. I’ve gotten better over the years. Sometimes I think I’m over it, but then I fall off the wagon and start thinking I’m Jesus again.

I have a problem. I hear admitting your problem is the first step toward healing. I hope that’s true.

Why don’t I tell you the story of how ministers come to think they’re Jesus and what happens when they hit bottom.

It all starts so innocently.

First, you decide that you’re not going to be that cheesy minister with the expensive suits and the store-bought smile. You’re not going to work the room, tossing hugs and lovey-dovey words into the crowd like Mardi Gras beads. You want real relationships. You’re not going to call all the little boys “bearcat” and all the little girls “cutie-pie.” You will know the children as individuals. You will know all their names.

Then you decide you’re going to be “authentic.” What you mean is that you intend to tell the truth. You aren’t going to sling bullshit religious slogans around. You aren’t going to give easy answers. You aren’t going to worry about whether you sound conservative or liberal. You’ll take whatever comes your way as a result.

You also want to be just the bestest pastor ever. You want to be insightful and wise, but tastefully self-deprecating. You will work very hard to preach good sermons, but at the same time you won’t take them too seriously. You plan to challenge without judging and inspire without seeming inspirational. You will be smart, well-read, and articulate, but you’ll only let the hem of those garments show.

Finally, you decide that you want to love everyone, even the visitors. You watch the room to make sure that no one is left alone. You will drop anything to talk to anyone. All they have to do is call you, and everyone has your number. Love is the main thing, and you hope that God might seem real to people because your love WAS real to them.

You’re serious, too. Really. You’re not false about this stuff. You are a lot of things, but false and manipulative you are not. You don’t want money. You don’t want fame. You just want to make God happy and be there to help people on their journey to discovering God.

See how it happens? See? You’re going to be everyone’s servant, and your love will bring people back to God. Suddenly, you’re Jesus. You had the best of intentions, but good intentions don’t mean shit if you start thinking you’re Jesus.

The crazy thing is, it’s the good ministers who end up thinking they’re Jesus. The TV preachers who are trying to get your money and the fancy ministers who are building little kingdoms for themselves – they know they aren’t Jesus. Everyone knows they aren’t Jesus. Look at their haircuts, for pity’s sake.

No, it’s the good ones who fall into this trap.

And it IS a trap, because I got news for you, preacher. You ain’t Jesus, and you better figure that out right quick.

Coming Soon:”Part Two: Losing the Language of Love”

rlp

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