Freedom to Be Wrong


FREEDOM_to be-hi-resIn line with Highland Baptist’s “Freedom to Be” series, here are some reflections on our Freedom to be Wrong – inspired by Acts 2:14a, 22-32, where we see that all the wrong-doings of humanity within and around the crucifixion could not stop Jesus’ power and God’s glory.

When the call first comes, it can be intoxicating to feel the weight of responsibility on our shoulders. Created in God’s image, we relish at the moment when we think we are on the precipice of doing something – something we know will affect change. We have a chance! We are determined to shift the powers, bring down the arrogant, lift up the lowly, save the lost, redeem the broken, right the world back to its originally intended goodness.

We step forward into our power, at first hesitantly. Are we really able to walk on water? To move that mountain? To grow that mustard seed? To run that race?

But with each first step, we begin to realize that we can do what we have dreamed of doing for so long.  We find our pace and our bodies run with swift feet and determined focus.  “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.”  Future generations will praise us. We are the ones for whom we have been waiting.

But the scene shifts… it always does, at some point.

Perhaps a root trips your foot, and all of a sudden, you are on your knees with a gash on your leg, scuffed-up hands, and a walloping headache. You had no idea that this was such a dangerous endeavor.

Or maybe your foot made it over the root, but you loved running so fast that you have failed to look around you. Eventually, when you cannot maintain your speed anymore, you slow down to find that you are far off course.  You have lost something – your bearings? The calling? Yourself?

Maybe speed is not your challenge. You are too smart for that error. You have been devouring the map with attention, intentionality, and methodical analysis. You have been gathering supplies and becoming physically fit. There is only one problem: you have never even started the journey. You have feared the unanticipated moment more than the possibility that you will never find enough momentum to begin.

Calling is so intoxicating in the beginning.  “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of people.”   The grandeur of our imagined future selves always crumbles once we have actually begun the work.

Jesus: You called us, and we said, “Yes!”  We threw aside our nets and left behind our families. We walked the aisle, prayed the prayer, and tithed the 10%. Just as you told us we could, we are able to do works far greater than we could ever dream.

But that’s not the whole story, and you know it.

We argued about who is the greatest.
We doubted your power and inflated our own.
We shooed away the lepers.
We tried to change your mind.
We betrayed you to the powers and principalities.
We abandoned you in the garden.
We denied you in the courtyard.
We crucified you to protect our traditions.
We struggled to believe in the locked room.

To us, the ones who beg to be called and then fumble in completing the work, you say, “Peace be with you.”  You ask us to settle down, humble ourselves, receive the Holy Spirit, and give us an even bigger task than was given before.  It is as if our being wrong isn’t news to you.

Receive the news that can set us free:
Our wrong-doing and weaknesses will never stop Jesus’ rising.
Our failings and faltering will never stop Jesus’ choice to send us out as witnesses.

Be careful of any weight you take on your shoulders, as calling turns into responsibility, responsibility turns into authority, and authority inevitably turns to judgment and punishment when we get it wrong (which we always do eventually).

The One who sends us forth is also the One who offers to carry our load.
Indeed, this One can bear it far better than you and I ever could.

I end with Nadia Bolz Weber’s final line from her Easter prayer:  “Grant us joy and make our song Alleluia… not because we aren’t paying attention, but because we are.  Amen.”

May God set you free to be wrong and still be sent forth to love the world.

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