â€œU2 may be stuck in a momentâ€Luke 4:21-30
If you go into most Christian book shops you will find rubber wrist bands with the initials WWJD. As a reminder, these in themselves are good for when those tough or confusing situations arrive, that we should stop and think â€œwhat would Jesus doâ€ in such a situation? Itâ€™s a good question, but what if the answer to yourself is against what you perceive as right by societies standards, is against what will acceptable to your social group, or even against what you perceive as whatâ€™s best for you-where â€œwhat Jesus would doâ€ will come at a personal cost of giving something away, be it security, following instead of being followed, being judged unfairly or treated badly.
You have two sandwiches and a hungry person asks for one and you ask yourself â€œWhat would Jesus do?â€ But then, up the road another downtrodden looking person asks for a few dollars to buy a pie and without any conversation think, â€œthey will only spend it on booze anywayâ€ but then ask yourself â€œwhat would Jesus do?
Youâ€™re in a country blessed with free government and security. A country blessed with natural resources and even at the minimal level, is seen by many as a land of opportunity. But then others from lands where due to their birth status are given little in life, hear of your way of life and desire to be part of it and personally ask you, can I join you in your country so that I can make a better life for myself and my family? â€œWhat would Jesus doâ€?
In your work place you have been wronged, snubbed, talked about by colleagues and badly treated. Or worse, the same in your family or your church, and then we ask ourselves, â€œWhat will I do?â€
â€œWhat would Jesus doâ€ is a good question to ask ourselves, but we should only ask it if we want to hear the answer-because the answer may not be what we want to hear. Just as when we ask that other hard question, that if Jesus was walking the earth now and preaching his radical Gospel for the first time like he did 2,000 years ago with his messages of humility, turning the other cheek, forgiving others even when they are wrong and you are right, or even asking you to follow him in the sureness of being ridiculed, imprisoned, beaten and even being killed for doing nothing wrong. Would you receive him warmly? Would you look the other way and continue in life as if he werenâ€™t there? Or ridicule him as an imposter, or even look to get him out the way for good?
If we ask ourselves that question seriously, it is a tough question. It certainly is for me because if I answer no to the â€œWhat would Jesus do questionsâ€ which are simple in comparison, how could I possibly think I would say yes to the Lord asking of me the same but also much, much more.
Would I, would we be different to those in todayâ€™s Gospel message, who upon hearing him preach of inclusiveness instead of exclusiveness, who preached not of their perceived rights, but by quoting scripture preached of the â€œright thing to doâ€, like them would we base our decisions on self and preconceived notions, and like them, although it was against their law and the very crux of their belief system, that on the Sabbath of all days, they would look to assassinate him.
Jesus preaches love, not of self: but of others. Jesus teaches not wanting our way: but his way, which is doing whatâ€™s best for others. Jesus teaches that should we be wronged intentionally or unintentionally, instead of returning fire in hurt or anger, but to put ourselves in their shoes-to see they are not perfect. Jesus asks us to see â€œthe stick in our own eye before the speck in othersâ€. We all know this is where Jesus stands and unfortunately for me, he means it. Unfortunate for me because at some time I have failed every person I have ever met. Iâ€™ve walked past those put before me, Iâ€™ve given myself excuses for returning fire with fire towards people or giving some of their own back and yet worst of all, I know I wanted too, and then I see the truth. That at the very least, if I was present 2,000 years ago and Jesus was being marched too the cross-at the very least, I see myself looking the other way.
I see myself in times of war with men of their own free will boarding a boat to Gallipoli, the battle fields of France or Vietnam, yet I donâ€™t see myself with them.
I see myself living in a country where to hold the Christian faith sees them set upon, tortured and killed, yet I donâ€™t see myself holding firm in the faith with them.
I see myself along with my Christian brothers and sisters in the Colosseum being asked to renounce the faith or be fed to the lions, yet I only see them in the arena. Then I wonder of the future, and see myself in a world that may yet repeat its past to where that in order to spread the word of God in a Godless world, would mean giving up the right of salary and financial security, yet can still see myself basing decisionâ€™s to take â€œa callâ€ of ministry to other parishes based on my wisdom, and not that of Godâ€™s.
I see whatâ€™s gone before and what may be ahead, but like parents in the grip of addiction and wanting to spend their money to feed the children, they cannot as they are stuck in a moment that they canâ€™t get out. That like a person in depression and of hearing their friends truthfully telling them of their worth and knowing those words to be true and that their own negative thoughts of themselves are irrational, they are still stuck in that moment that they canâ€™t get out. And I hear Christ telling me â€œto be in the world but not of the worldâ€, yet I see myself stuck in my moment â€œof the worldâ€, that I canâ€™t seem to get out of, and sometimes donâ€™t even want to get out of.
In 1984, along with a few thousand others, on the grounds of the Memorial Drive tennis courts in Adelaide I saw a young man named Michael Hutchence perform in front of his band INXS, and that he and his band would later become one of the greatest bands in the world performing in sold out concert arenaâ€™s such as Wembley stadium in front of 74,000 people did not surprise.
Michael was a man of rare musical genius and in 1990 along with band member Andrew Farriss wrote a song called â€œthe stairsâ€ about hardship and of a person trying to hang on and survive while considering suicide:
â€œThe nature of the tragedy is chained around your neck â€¦â€¦. Are you sure you donâ€™t care. There are reasons here to give your life and follow in your way. The passion lives to keep the faith. Though all are different, all are greatâ€.
On 6 February 1998, after the New South Wales State Coroner presented his report that ruled that Michaelâ€™s death was from suicide while depressed and under the influence of drugs and alcohol, his friend Bono from U2, sang this of him
â€œI will not forsake the colors that you bring. But the nights you filled with fireworks, they left you with nothing. I am still enchanted by the light you brought to me. I listen through your ears, and through your eyes I can see. â€¦I know itâ€™s tough, and you can never get enough of what you donâ€™t really need. Youâ€™ve got to get yourself together, (because) youâ€™ve got stuck in a moment and you canâ€™t get outâ€.
Michael had the world at his feet and we wonder how it could have got to this and maybe even place judgement on him like when we â€œare stuck in our momentâ€ and people are quick to judge us, and we too wish someone would understand and stand up and say of us like Bono did of Michael:
â€œI listen through your ears, and through your eyes I can see, (and) I know itâ€™s tough.
We are all stuck in our moments that we may fight, but canâ€™t get out of. Moments where we judge, moments where we react not how Jesus would, where we hear the truth, yet react like those against Jesus.
Stuck in our moment where we ask ourselves â€œWhat would Jesus do?â€ Yet do not heed the answer. Stuck in our moment where we see our errors and weaknesses, but nevertheless hope that someone â€œWill listen through our ears and see through our eyes and see that itâ€™s toughâ€ and answer that call from Christ, to not discard-but bring us in. To not push down-but to lift us up. To see us as Christ does, flawed, not perfect and in need and yet respond to us as Christ does-to bring hope to the hopeless and help us on our way home. Pray we receive this in our times of need and pray we have the strength of spirit, to perceive that need in others. Amen.