“Anointed – or just Annoyed?”

Dr. Ralph Blair’s Keynote at the GCN Conference in Seattle, Washington, January 4-7, 2007

At first, they were impressed – a bit surprised, but impressed. But when the guest preacher began to “reinterpret” Scripture, they were confused.  As he went on, they were shocked.  Finally, they were furious.  They knew their Bible.  And, for starters, they knew he’d stopped short in his reading.  They’d wanted to hear that part about God’s vengeance on the gentiles, the goyim, those filthy outsiders.  But he didn’t read that part.  He’d stopped just short of that part. And then things got worse.  He defended the faith of some of the outsiders and he denounced unfaithfulness in insiders. Who did he think he was? What authority did he have to speak this way?  But when he hinted by whose authority he was speaking in assumed Messianic identity, they were outraged.  They got themselves so outraged, they wanted to kill him – literally.  And they tried to kill him.  But somehow, he slipped away.

That was a long time ago, at the synagogue of the Nazarenes.  The guest preacher was a son of the congregation.  But he was also the Son of God!  His name was Yeshua – Jesus – because the angel had told Joseph: “He will save his people from their sins”.  Well he wasn’t going to save them, if they had any say in it!

The Bible reading was from a Messianic passage from Isaiah.  And, by convention, Yeshua read it out loud: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom to people in bondage, sight to those who are blind, release to the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  (Luke 4:18,19; Isaiah 61:1,2)

He stopped just short of that lip-smacking part about God’s alleged vengeance against the goyimAnd after handing the scroll back to the attendant, he expounded on the text. What he said was anything but conventional.  What he said was taken to add insult to injury, for he declared that this prophecy about Messiah, Yahweh’s Anointed One, was fulfilled that very day – in him!

Well if he was the Anointed, they were the annoyed.  They were already annoyed at the goyim.  Now they were annoyed at him.  He’d not only censored conventional censure of the goyim, but right there in their synagogue, he’d identified himself as the Anointed One of God.  But they knew he wasn’t.  They knew he was only a local carpenter’s son.  How in heaven’s name did he dare to use their pulpit to so transgress their traditional assumptions on Messiah and the uncircumcised dogs and all the ritually blemished and blind! 

The lepers, the blind, the deaf, the lame, and the demon-possessed – these were not kosher.  Yet they tended to be the very souls to whom Jesus attended.  And they attended to him.  Because of their leprosy, their blindness and their other disqualifying deformities, they were social outcasts.  And because they were social outcasts, they were poor.  In the Hebraic mind, such poverty pertained to soul and body.  They were poor materially. They were poor spiritually.  They were poor emotionally.  They were the excluded.  They were victims locked into oppression.  Of course, they longed for relief.  And Jesus looked on them and loved them.  After all, as he’d explain, it was to these who acknowledged they were “the sick” rather than to those who refused such a diagnosis – though just as deaf and blind – that he was able to bring the strengthening, comforting Good News of the Lord’s favor in benefits tangible and transcendent.

The reaction in that synagogue of the Nazarenes was not unlike today’s reaction to unwanted preaching about unwanted people at a church of the Nazarene and other congregations of moralistic bent.

But nowadays, being goys themselves, they no longer find goys annoying. It’s gays they now find annoying.  So today’s Religious Right gets furious if preachers don’t play up that part that’s alleged to be about God’s vengeance against gays.  And it gets annoyed if there’s any anointing of gays within the congregation of “the righteous” – as though “the righteous” were ever righteous in themselves, as though they were ever anointed apart from relationship to God’s Anointed One.

Incidentally, current reaction to Christians who happen to be gays and who won’t submit to the dictates of a heterosexual Christian establishment resembles reaction to Christians who happened to be goys and who would not submit to the dictates of an early Jewish Christian establishment.  Just as some of the early Jewish Christian elite insisted that goys had to have their genitalia reconstructed in order to complete the process of authentic Christian commitment, some of today’s heterosexual Christian elite insist that gays have to have their genitalia reoriented in order to complete the process of authentic Christian commitment.

But writing to Galatians, Philippians and Colossians, Paul inveighed against the demand that goys become Jews in order to be faithful followers of Christ.  What New Testament scholar, N. T. Wright, calls Paul’s “master-stroke” is the apostle’s warning the goyim “against Judaism by portraying Judaism itself as if it were just another pagan religion.”  He asserts: “It is a ‘philosophy’ [Col] (2:8), developed by human tradition (2:8, 22): and to follow it is to return to the same type of religion the new converts had recently abandoned.”  And heterosexualism is a similarly false religion.

Now, of course, current congregations of the liberal righteous, the left-wing fundamentalists, are just as annoyed (and just as annoying) as those on the right when what they want to hear isn’t preached.  If the preaching doesn’t share liberalism’s annoyance over those they can’t stand, there’s hell to pay – even though the liberals don’t give a hoot about hell.  Left-wing preachers get annoyed unless the whole politically correct GLBTQXYZ agenda is allowed to anoint itself.  The gayness, itself, is counted as righteousness, quite apart from any relationship to God’s Anointed One.

Long ago, goys were as annoyed at Jews as Jews were annoyed at goys.  Today, lots of gays are as annoyed at Christians as lots of Christians are annoyed at gays.  And now as then, ignorance fuels the fury.  Back then, polytheistic goys were annoyed over Jews worshipping but one god short of atheism.  Today, gays, fascinated with interfaith diversity, are annoyed at Christians’ worshipping but One God period – far short of the preferred syncretism of multicultural spirituality.

But then: “at sundry times and in divers ways” (as the writer to Hebrews is said to have put it in good ol’ King James English), and interrupting all the special pleading, all the self-serving talk of gods and goys and gays and all the angry blame games of god-bashers, goy-bashers and gay-bashers, the Almighty and All Merciful Lord God, Yahweh, speaks up for Himself.  And He does so to reveal His rescuing of the whole wide world from all its futile efforts at naïve, self-righteous schemes of self-help.

Early on, God speaks up through the patriarchs and prophets of the few through whom He chose to anoint the many.  Early Jews were anointed, that is, set apart, to serve, and not to be served.  Then, in the last days – the days of Messiah, God’s Anointed One – He speaks up through the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, the only one through whom God chose to save us all in fulfillment of His promise to Abraham.  So Jesus, too, was anointed, that is, set apart, to serve, and not to be served.  He was anointed unto death – not just at the last, in that anointing for death so gracefully offered by the woman with the alabaster of ointment, but from “before the creation of the world” – in God’s Light, without time, without space.

And now we who say we’re Jesus’ people, people we understand to have been “chosen in Him before the creation of the world to be holy, set apart, and blameless” (Eph 1: 4) – we, are anointed to be an anointing in our turn.  Do we know the meaning of such anointing?  Do we let the text define it?  Or do we let the Religious Right or the Religious Left define it?  Do we let secularism define it?  Do we let sex define it?  Do we think we can define it by our own subjective experience, our mere feelings?

Jesus taught that our anointing is for announcing God’s Good News of his grace and peace.  And, as St. Francis quipped: Such announcing of the Good News can sometimes be done with words!  Our anointing calls us to call out God’s Good News through words and works, in life and down to death.

So – in this anointed call – we, too, are set apart to serve God’s purpose, and not to be served.  We, as followers of Jesus Christ – even among those who happen to be gay or lesbianwe are anointed to announce God’s Good News of grace and peace.  God Hasn’t brought us this far for no good reason.  We’re no doubt wounded – but we’re wounded that we might know how, empathically, we might help to bind up the broken.  We’ve survived by God’s grace.  And we’ve survived for service.  We’re set apart to serve, and not to be served.  We’re set apart by God’s purpose.  In Bob Dylan’s prayerful words, then: “Keep me set apart / from all the plans they do pursue.  … ‘Cause I believe in You.”  We must not let ourselves be set up by any other agenda – either our own or anybody else’s.

What are the implications of such a biblically based privilege?  What are the priorities, the lifestyle, of a follower of Jesus – seeing that his followers are solemnly set apart for serious service?   What agendas can be ours, as anointed in Christ Jesus, and what agendas must not be ours, as anointed in Christ Jesus?

The full text of the Isaiah scroll that Jesus handled on that Sabbath in Nazareth includes Yahweh’s inclusive purpose: the divine declaration of God’s own righteousness to bless all people as a gift to them. This was to be conveyed through the anointing of God’s servants, the prophets, so often shut up and even stoned to death by the religious establishment of their day.  And then, at last, Yahweh’s purpose was to be fulfilled through Jesus, His Son, the Suffering Servant who was, indeed, put to death in the context of a diversity of agendas and in a multicultural confluence of connivance, conspiracy, complicity and complacency.  Lest we miss that we, too, were there in all of that, listen to these words from Dorothy L. Sayers: “God was executed by people painfully like us, in a society very similar to our own, by a corrupt church, a timid politician, and a fickle proletariat led by professional agitators.” All were involved – from the upper crust to the lowest caste.

And yet, the deeper, the much deeper, truth was this, as Jesus, himself, said with sovereign and absolving grace: “Nobody takes my life from me; I lay it down of my own accord.” (John 10:18)  We did it, yes.  And yet, had he not been willing to have it done to him, we would not have been able to do it.  As he told Peter: “Don’t you think I could call on my Father and he would at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matt 26:53-54)  So he prayed on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing!”

Let’s dare to ask ourselves, as Christians who happen to be lesbians or gay men: Do we know what we’re doing in accepting our anointing in Him who died for us, his foes?  Or are we just annoyed at our foes?  Are we anointed for proclaiming the Gospel to those who don’t get the Gospel, or are we just annoyed about those who don’t get us?   Do we miss being anointed because we’re so annoyed?  Do we miss the anointing because we’re so annoying?

Jesus had reason to be annoyed at his persecutors.  But he remembered his divine anointing and so he served his persecutors, even unto death – and thereby, saved us from ourselves, from our sin and from death itself.  Jesus’ first followers had reason to be annoyed at their persecutors.  But they remembered their anointing and so, instead, they served their persecutors, even unto death.  And persecuted followers of Christ today – tortured and killed under communist and Islamist regimes and hounded by other anti-Christians – have reason to be annoyed at their persecutors.  But they remember their anointing and so, instead, they serve their persecutors, even unto death.

Our homophobic sisters and brothers are anointed to share the Gospel with lesbians and gay men, but they get themselves so annoyed with us that about all we ever hear from them is their hatred of us.  They don’t seem to realize that they’re called to weep with us in our weeping and rejoice with us in our rejoicing.  They don’t realize they’re to try to understand us as they wish we’d try to understand them.  They don’t know how to love those they call their enemies.  Yet will we, here, as the anointed followers of Jesus, get ourselves so annoyed with them that we fail to follow Jesus, and fail to follow as his first followers did and as our imprisoned brethren follow him today?  Do we forget our own anointing and so, refuse to serve even these other self-serving Christians who fail to follow him?  Do we weep with them in their weeping and rejoice with them in their rejoicing?  Do we try to understand them as much as we wish they’d try to understand us?  Do we caricature them?  Do we mistreat them as mere stereotypes?  How well do we try to really love those whom we call our enemies?

In 1739, a 25-year-old preacher named George Whitefield acknowledged an everyday truth in his daily journal: “We can preach the Gospel of Christ no further than we have experienced it in our own hearts.”

If we would preach the Gospel of Christ, with conviction, we need to examine our hearts: How far have we, ourselves, experienced this Gospel of Christ?  And how far have we allowed the experience of this Gospel of Christ to govern our experience as gay men and lesbians?   How much does our experience of the Gospel of Christ impact the churches and ministries in which we participate.  How does it determine our involvement in GCN – let alone, our involvement in all our other associations and activities, day in and day out, and night after night?

Sadly, many churches are closed to testimonies from serious Christians who happen to be lesbians or gay men.  And sadly, too, many organizations of GLBTQ-support are closed to these same testimonies.

A woman told me that she offered to sing and play guitar at a gay church she’d finally found.  She was told they’d be delighted. But, she was warned: “Don’t sing about Jesus.  Some of our people would find that offensive.”  Recently, I received an invitation to a celebration of GLBTQ Presbyterians.  It said that the honored guest would be a pro-GLBTQ Episcopal bishop.  It called him a “prophet in our time”.  But it didn’t seem to matter that this bishop denies Christ’s blood atonement, his bodily resurrection and other truths of Scripture.  During Christmas, I got a fund-raising newsletter from another GLBTQ Presbyterian ministry.  It was headlined “Season’s Greetings”.  There was not one mention of Jesus Christ in this long letter.  And I find that GLBTQ religious caucus Web sites tend to feature New Agey humdrum that urges us to “embrace ourselves” and “explore ways to create ourselves”. Typically, there’s never a word of the Gospel of Christ – only the hackneyed movement cliches that any non-Christian gay activist could spout.

News of Mary Cheney’s pregnancy was, of course, an excuse for the Religious Right’s Focus on the Family to issue a mass email attack against lesbians and gay men who rear children.   But that attack from activists on the Religious Right then served as an excuse for a counter attack from a religious organization of GLBTQ activists.  Headlined, “Good News For Mary Cheney”, it wasn’t about the Good News of Christ.  It was about the good news of her pregnancy.  Predictably, the press release stated, in terms as self-servingly exploitative as those from Focus on the Family: “We find it unconscionable that Focus on the Family has exploited [Mary Cheney’s and Heather Poe’s] good news.”  Of course, neither of these political lobbies was really outraged.  Each was no doubt pleased as punch to have the chance to exploit the pregnancy to its own advantage.  Okay, call me cynical.  Or call me sufficiently wide awake to smell the coffee.

It really is all so much politics of blame – and so lacking in intellectual rigor, spiritual insight and any will for sober self-reflection or self-criticism.  The “Christian” verbiage – if it’s there at all – is there in the self-serving interest of an antigay or a pro-gay agenda.  Where’s the really Good News in any of this?  Where’s the evidence of a living out of the Lord’s favor in benefits tangible and transcendent?  Where’s the anointing in all this annoying annoyance?

As Christians, we are anointed to be activists, but our activism is, primarily, to do what no other activists can do: Show forth the Good News of Christ.  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t join with others to do some social work, but we ought not leave undone what only we can do.  Said Jesus, putting first things first: Seek God’s Kingdom first – and all other needs will fall into place.  How’s that?   If we seek first what puts everything else into proper perspective, we’ll revise how we “need” everything else to be.  That is our message and our mission in Jesus’ perspective.

Here are just two of the many ways that the Good News puts everything else into perspective.  Have you ever thought of the Good News in these terms?

Firstly: This Good News that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not counting our sins against us” (II Cor 5:19) goes to the very heart of all that we can get ourselves so annoyed about and that, then, can make us so annoying.  And secondly: This Good News in Christ is the only good news that won’t ever be countered or canceled by any bad news.  Let’s briefly expand on these two.

Instead of limiting the significance of the Gospel to its good news for life after death, what about appreciating the Gospel for its good news in our daily lives.  It’s true that, as Paul said, “If it’s only for this life that we have hope in Christ, we’re of all people, most to be pitied.” (I Cor 15:19)  And yet, that doesn’t mean that the Gospel of Christ doesn’t have real significance for “this life” here and now, as well as for life after death.

What if we grasped more fully that the Gospel is also God’s most practical response to all the disappointments and anger and loneliness and hurt and frustration and fear and consequent hostility that we experience in everyday living?  And what if the anointing in Christ for our sharing this Good News really does address – not only our eternal destiny – but all daily disappointed expectations and loneliness and hurt and frustration and anxiety and its consequent hostility?  It is, after all, our failed attempts to deal with such disappointed expectations, loneliness, hurt, frustration, and anxiety that gets us so riled up, so hostile and then so depressed and depressing, so self-destructive and other-destroying.

We’re not made to be alone – isolated from one another and from our Creator and Redeemer.  But when we try to resolve our felt isolation we can so easily make things worse.  We trip over our own inescapable sense of self and then, being so mistakenly centered in that sense of self, we try to save ourselves by pretending and posturing and pleasing and then we can wind up behaving quite badly and feeling worse.  Thinking, for instance, that we need that person or that thing in order to be happy, in order to be fulfilled, we get ourselves disappointed and depressed when that person or that thing doesn’t meet our fantasy expectations.  Then we can get ourselves really annoyed and become really annoying.  And then we get pessimistic.

We may try to manage our pessimism through cynicism and carelessness.  But, of course, neither cynicism nor carelessness alleviates annoyance; the annoyance only escalates.  And then we become even more annoying.  Thinking we have to do it all on our own, by ourselves, we get ourselves frustrated.  Sensing things are out of our control – and, of course, they are – we try to take control by getting hostile.  But that doesn’t work.  Experiencing our hostility reinforces how out of our control things are.  And so we get even more frustrated, then more annoyed and more annoying.

Annoyance is our counter-productive answer to anything’s not going our way.  It’s our counter-productive answer to our hurt feelings, our frustration, our fear.  But it’s not a bright idea.  Neither active nor passive aggression will solve our problem.

We try blaming ourselves, thinking: “If it’s my fault I can do something to change it.”  When that doesn’t work, we blame others.  But that doesn’t work either, for it only reinforces a sense that others really do seem to hold us hostage and that sense mires us still more in frustration.  Then – whether or not it’s their fault – they retaliate at our attacks and blame us – whether or not it’s our fault.  All this annoyance at ourselves and at others makes us annoying but it’s no answer to anything.

Now think about it: Doesn’t this Good News that we really are, now and forever, anointed in the embrace of God’s Sovereign Love in Christ Jesus, have a life-changing bearing on all our foolish fantasies that fuel unwanted feelings of disappointment, hurt, frustration, fear and consequent hostility?  Think about it and be thankful.

Secondly:  This Good News of Christ is the only good news that isn’t followed up by bad news.  This Good News is preceded by the bad news, but it’s not followed by the bad news.  The bad news?   “All have sinned” and “the wage of sin is death.”  The Good News of Christ counters and cancels this bad news, since – as Paul goes on to say – “but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ, our Lord.” (Rom 6:23)  And yet, without that preceding bad news of sin and death, the Good News is nonsense.

Think of any good news you’ve ever heard – any good news except the Good News of Christ. There’s always bad news to follow.  Everything in this world is a mixed bag – side effects, fine print, unintended consequences.      Be glad for antidepressants.  But they might lessen your depression enough to give you the energy to kill yourself.  Heartburn drugs reduce acid in the stomach.  Great!  But they also make bones brittle.  Not so great!  That acne cream commercial is over the top.  But it ends with a rapid-fire warning: “May cause drowsiness, dizziness, drooling, dementia, disfigurement, death and disgrace.”  You’ve got full hospital coverage?  That’s wonderful!  And, by the way, did you know that more people die from hospital-related infection than from car accidents?   Hey, the good news is: you like all that spinach and fish that are good for you.  But then there’s all that stuff about E. coli and methyl mercury!  You get accepted into your first choice college or first choice job.  But in attending the college or being on-the-job, you discover it’s a mixed bag and not the fantasy you’d thought it would be.  Every good health report is but a prelude to the diagnosis you won’t beat.  That guy you just had to date turns out to be the guy you just have to escape.   One day, there’ll be the “good news” that it’s legal for same-sex couples to marry in all 50 states.  But, sooner or later, all the excitement over fantasy weddings and living “happily ever after” will dwindle down to disillusionment, detachment, divorce or death.

Now, none of this means we shouldn’t have hospitalization, eat spinach and fish, try to get into a good school or a good job, go on a date, get married or what have you.  It does mean, though, that we’ll be better prepared if we realize from the get-go that “good news” rooted in this world is a trade-off and temporary.

But just think of the privilege we have, as the anointed in Christ, to share the Good News that can never be undone by any bad news!  What an anointing that is!  The Good News of Christ is the last word, the final word, God’s eternal Word against all of this world’s bad news.  There will be no unwanted update to cancel out the Good News in Christ.  This Good News carries us Home, where God, in Christ, is making all things new.

So it’s not for nothing that we read these strengthening, comforting words in the Psalms: “Be still and know that I Am God!” (Ps 46:10)  Chill out and know that I’m in charge!  That’s really Good News.  I AM is in charge!  Whenever Scripture says we should “be still” – relax, calm down, stop being anxious and afraid – it’s never an order to merely “cheer up”, “be positive”.   It’s always an imperative resting in an indicative; it’s always what we should do because of what’s what.  Don’t be afraid – because! 

   As the shepherds heard in the fields of Bethlehem: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you Good News of great joy which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born, this day, in the city of David, a Savior: Christ, the Lord.”  Well, the shepherds might have countered: “Isn’t brutal Caesar the lord?”.  “Isn’t preening Herod the king?”  “Aren’t corrupt chief priests in charge?”  NoChill out and know that this Child’s in charge.

And as Jesus grew up, he was always in charge.  He was in charge when he spoke.  He was in charge when silent.  He was in charge as a child in the Temple with teachers of the law.  Throughout his days he was in charge over demons and diseases and death.  And there in his hometown, when the ecclesiastical elite and self-righteous rulers of the synagogue would have stoned him to death, for what he said of himself, we read that, though they dragged him to a precipice, he somehow slipped away.  His timing had not yet come. And near the end, in his purposeful movement toward death, arrested and standing before Pilate, it was not Caesar he meant when he said to this procurator: “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.”  As Philip Yancey puts it so well: “Even at that moment of crisis, Jesus had the long view, the view from a time antedating the solar system.”

And so should we, his anointed disciples, take “the long view, the view from a time antedating the solar system”.  And yet, even here and now, embodied in the amazingly integrated complexity of even the smallest particles in our cells and within this uniquely human habitat of a solar system in the universe so meticulously fine-tuned for our thriving – it’s here, wrapped round with such obviously Sovereign Love, that we get ourselves annoyed and become annoyances.  If we miss the tender care of our Creator in all the observable evidence of creation, might we also miss it even when the deepest Heart of Sovereign Love comes recreating us for life in Christ?   Are we so preoccupied with all we don’t approve that we miss this amazing approval of God from before all time and space to all in time and space?

In our queer little corner of the solar system, this Good News is not well proclaimed nor well received.  And neither the Religious Right nor the Religious Left seems up for it.  So it’s up to us, Christ’s anointed who happen to be queer, to proclaim this Good News to one another.  It’s for us to ask ourselves – and even in prayer, as the Psalmist did: “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” (Ps 137:4)  Oh, yes, we can find ourselves in pretty strange places.  Christ’s anointing us to “go throughout the world to preach the Gospel” means we’ll be going to some strange lands.

How shall we sing the Lord’s Good News in a strange land of self-righteousness?  Where’s the interest in the Lord’s Good News when religionists Left and Right think they are the good news?   How shall we sing the Lord’s Good News in a strange land of self-centeredness?  Where’s the interest in the Lord’s Good News when there’s no room for anyone but oneself?  How shall we sing the Lord’s Good News in a strange land of secularism?  Where’s the interest in the Lord’s Good News when the gullible so eagerly gulp down the sophomoric rants of a Richard Dawkins or a Sam Harris?  How shall we sing the Lord’s Good News in a strange land of sexualism?  Where’s the interest in the Lord’s Good News when sex is the number one searched-for topic on the Internet and when Michel Foucault, gay guru of postmodernist philosophy, pushes sex itself as the good news, rationalizing that “to exchange life in its entirety for sex itself, for the truth and sovereignty of sex” is the highest good, and that AIDS is of little significance since, “What could be more beautiful [than] to die for the love of boys.”  How shall we sing the Lord’s Good News in a strange land of so-called multiculturalism, selective diversity and silly subscription to irrational relativism, where every notion under the sun may be given a hearing except the Good News of the Son of God?  Where’s the interest in the Lord’s Good News if an undifferentiated impersonal is just as good a metaphysics as the biblical differentiation between the Creator and creation?

But how much time and effort do we who are anointed to proclaim the Good News of Christ give to finding out how, indeed, we might sing the Lord’s song in these strange lands to which we’re called?  Do we get so distracted by all that is not our calling that we fail to answer our Master’s call – and so, other lesbians and gay men never do hear the wonderful word of life that, perhaps we alone are in a place to pass on to them?

On what are we wasting God-given time and energy in this pilgrimage?  Do we spend it Googling and gossiping over Survivor, YouTube, Dreamgirls or Rosie and The Donald?  Are we more interested in party politics and fashion than in growing into the full stature of our Lord and Savior?  Do our friends know better where we stand on trivia than where we stand on Christ?   And that doesn’t call us to a holier-than-thou stand – but quite the opposite.  Are we entrapped in angry queer activism rather than being engaged in authentic Christian evangelism?  Here’s a pointed question I came across: “Do you think God can form us … with a few table prayers and a weekly church service … when pop culture is forming us the rest of the time?”  (Cornelius Plantinga)

Look: As followers of Christ, we’re anointed as people of God’s Rainbow of Promise – his great war bow that now hangs at peace in the sky, a pacific reminder of God’s resolution of the wrath.  As followers of Christ, we’re not people of a queer rainbow of pretended pride and parochial pout and protest.  And our ultimate allegiance is not to the “red state” politics of pretension or to the “blue state” politics of pretension or even to the nationalistic stripes of the “red, white, and blue.”  Our ultimate allegiance is to the Savior by whose bloody stripes we are healed. Yet, sadly, as apologist Francis Schaeffer observed: “Loyalty to organizations and movements has always tended over time to take the place of loyalty to the person of Christ.”

Are we annoyed that the world sets us aside?  Why should we be annoyed at such prejudice?  What does it matter if this world that’s passing away sets us aside?  Weren’t we warned it would?  And didn’t it set our Savior aside – outside the city, at Golgotha?  And yet, in that God-Anointed Outsider, and from the creation of time and space, we’re set aside, to be set free for life in God.  And in the meantime, we’re blessed to bless all who curse us, by doing them good and by sharing with them the Good News of Christ Jesus in word and deed.

Are we annoyed that some churches set us aside?  Why should we be annoyed at such prudishness?  What does it matter if some religious establishment sets us aside?  Weren’t we warned it would?  And didn’t it set our Savior aside – outside the synagogue and outside the Temple establishment and “out on a limb” of a tree of tradition’s curse?   But in that God-Anointed Outsider, and from the creation of time and space, we’re set aside, to be set free for life in God.  And in the meantime, we’re blessed to bless all who curse us, by doing them good and by sharing with them the Good News of Christ Jesus in word and deed.

Are we annoyed that friends and family set us aside?  Why should we be annoyed at such pettiness?  What does it matter if some friends and family set us aside?  Weren’t we warned they would?  Didn’t they turn their backs on our Savior?  And didn’t he say that his mother and brothers and sisters would be those who followed him.  And didn’t he teach those whom he called his family and friends to pray to our Abba, “our Father”?  And in the meantime, we’re blessed to bless all who curse us, by doing them good and by sharing with them the Good News of Christ Jesus in word and deed.

But some of us can still so annoy ourselves over all who’d set us aside that we retaliate by setting them all aside – and to no good purpose.  By so doing, we throw out, as it were, all the babies with the bath.  We get ourselves so annoyed and then become so annoying that we really do miss our anointing.  Instead of picking up our cross and following Jesus, we pick up the marbles of our misery and stalk off into self-pity.  And we try to pretend it doesn’t hurt by our prattling on about our “pride” and posturing and protesting that something for which we can’t take any credit makes us “special”.  Meanwhile, others agitate against us, prattling on about our “perversions”, pretending to take credit for what they never chose and trying to make themselves “special” by blaming us.   How pathetically foolish we all can be when we try to find the anointing in our self-acceptance and fail to find true anointing in God’s great love in the Anointed One, His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ!

Yet there’s still time to turn around and repent – to get back on track as true disciples.  We may still seek daily to follow the Suffering Servant, who denied himself – even to death on a cross – that we might live, in him, the anointed life of self-denial.  Such a life is no mixed bag.  For even in persecution, we are alive in Christ.  That explains why the truly persecuted, imprisoned, tortured Christians don’t ask us to pray that their persecution ends.  They send out word that we pray for them to be faithful.  How such anointed response to real persecution contrasts with such easy whining about those who aren’t up to speed with us on homosexuality!  So what!  Christ is Lord!  What further consolation do we need?

Said Eugenia Price: “Jesus Christ is God’s explanation for everything.”  True, for He’s the last Word on everything.  And Dorothy L. Sayers put some remarkable insight into words from Jesus’ mother at Calvary: “From the beginning of time until now, this is the only thing that has ever really happened.  When you understand this you will understand all prophesies and all history.”

Anointing in Christ is the answer for us as well as for all other poor souls.  If we can hold on, by God’s grace, to this amazingly wonderful fact that we really and eternally are embraced by God in Christ Jesus and that, therefore: There’s no need for us to have everything go according to the fictions and fantasies we dream up, no need to have to do it all by ourselves, no need to have to put up with being unloved and unlovable and unloving, no need to pretend we’re people we’re not and finally fail at saving ourselves.  We can not only receive the anointing for living that we need, but we can receive the anointing for our responsible and enthusiastic sharing of this Good News with other poor souls in need.

And then, we can go on growing into all that the Good News is fully about – what it’s been about from the creation of time and space, for “The really good news of the gospel is not that, because of Jesus’ work, we can get blessings otherwise unavailable, it is that we can give worship and praise to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.”  (Sam Logan)

And it will come to pass that Isaiah’s prophecy will be full reality at last:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim sight to the blind, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of God’s righting all wrongs, to comfort all who mourn, and to provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord [for what?] for the display of His splendor.”  (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Amen.

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