We’ve often quoted from the Passover scene in preparation for the taking of the Communion bread & wine, “Do this is in remembrance of me.” I simply want to share with you a quote from Joel Green (author of The Gospel of Luke from the NICNT commentary series by Eerdmans). In this quote he challenges our understanding of what true remembrance is really about. Read it carefully…maybe 2 or 3x…especially the last sentence.
Jesus follow up the bread word with instruction to “Do this in remembrance of me.” The notion of “remembrance” is pivotal to the celebration of Passover and cannot be limited, as it often is in English usage, to the idea of cognitive recall of a prior occurrence. In the biblical tradition, cognitive (or affective) recall is often triggered by verbal communication for that purpose, and this provides the impetus for some response or action. In a related sense, “remembrance” is often employed with the sense of “the effect of the recollection of the past for present or future benefit.” With the repeated celebration of Passover as precursor, and with this linguistic background for the understanding of remembrance, we may understand Jesus as instructing his followers not only to continue sharing meals together, but to do so in a way that their fellowship meals recalled the significance of his own life and death in obedience to God on behalf of others. This recollection should have the effect of drawing forth responses reminiscent of Jesus’ own table manners–his openness to outsiders, his comportment as a servant, his indifference toward issues of status honor, and the like–so that these features of his life would come to be embodied in the community of those who call him Lord. “A meal in memory of Jesus is one which celebrates and prolongs his lifestyle of justice and of serving the Father’s food to all.”
Luke 21:5-38 – This class was taught on February 28th. Luke 21 is a very interesting passage in which Jesus prophesies against Jerusalem and forecasts the destruction of the Temple. If you have the time to listen I think you will be intrigued by the discussion we had around the meaning of “generation” in Luke 21:32.
Luke 22:1-38 – This class was taught on March 13th. We are entering into the events leading to the crucifixion of the Christ. Judas and Peter (and the disciples at large) are all going to be tested by Satan in these days. Lots of interesting discussion surrounding that topic. Also, a good challenge in our understanding of what “remembrance” means when Jesus says at the Passover meal…”do this in remembrance of me.”
The study of the rich ruler’s conversation with Jesus is a dynamic one. Really enjoyed our class discussion. Here’s the link to what you missed out on!
Here is the link to the audio from December 27th. In this class we discuss the parable of the persistent widow (which ties directly into the discussion from December 20th) and we introduce the thematic elements of the 3 stories that follow, beginning with the prayers of the Pharisee and the tax collector.
In my last post I talked about the power of culture to implement or destroy any strategy. A great culture can accomplish good things with a poor strategy. A poor culture can spell the ruin of the best of strategies. “Culture eats strategy for lunch.”
So, if this is true, what does this mean for the effectiveness of the witness of the Church in the world based on our current Church culture?
In order to answer this question I have to cast a pretty broad net based on my cumulative experiences within the churches of Christ. The primary experience that is prompting this reflection is the decades long transition from a culture that questioned very little about the Bible (it was infallible and truth was plain to see) to one that questions everything (no longer adopting one way to read Scripture).
The challenge is how do both perspectives co-exist within the church and remain more committed to the culture of Christ’s Love than the culture that erupts when one interpretive stance comes into conflict with another? The feelings and opinions are so strong on either side of the fence that it inevitably does damage to the culture we are trying to create.
Diversity is here to stay in the church and in the culture at large. With diversity comes the potential for conflict. Now, I’m not against conflict. I think it’s healthy. I think it is how growth is achieved and our testimony is magnified. All men will know we are disciples of Christ if Christ’s diverse bunch of disciples can have their sorted opinions and still love each other!
What I am against is unresolved conflict. When a diverse body is too stubborn to seek reconciliation or set aside their opinions for the sake of peace and unity. Conflict is only good if it is dealt with and moved on from. Unfortunately, we are often not very good at that. We guard our disdain for the liberals and conservatives among us as if it is some important identity marker that we can’t let go of.
This must not be, Church! The Christ culture must trump everything (even our hermeneutic!). How do we get there, Church? The only way I know to get there is to spend a lot more time with Jesus than anywhere else. For I’m convinced that if we let Him shape our perspective we will get to where we need to be.
I was listening to this podcast the other day from Dave Ramsey’s Entreleadership series. In the podcast an interview is conducted with Lee Cockerell, a former executive vice president of Disney, which is widely known for being one of the best places to work as far as the culture that they create for both their cast members (as they call their staff) and those who are guest at their facilities. While the entire interview was excellent, there was one line that Mr. Cockerell stated that really resonated with me. He said,
“Culture eats strategy for lunch!”
This is so true, isn’t it? A leader can implement the best strategy in the world at his organization but if the culture stinks then the vision will never be realized. If, however, the culture is healthy, a leader can throw any one of a number of good strategies at his organization and they will bring it to fruition, b/c culture trumps strategy every time.
How does this change how leaders spend their time? On many occasions, I have been overly engaged in trying to think of new strategies in my professional career (whether as a minister or project manager) to get my organization to grow, yet to little or no avail. When I think of times when things were going well, there is vastly more to be said about key leaders who built a positive atmosphere than any smart strategy that was put into effect. When things didn’t go well, leadership was missing and the complainers took control, destroying any hope of the strategy making a difference.
Food for thought:
- So, what are the hurdles to changing the culture where you work or worship?
- How much more time do we need to start devoting to the spirit of an organization rather than to the processes that we are striving to implement?
If we don’t start in the right place, we may be destined for a relationship with Jesus that is less than what both of us have hoped for.
What is that “right” place? One of the helpful mental exercises that I engaged in during this past week in preparation for a talk I gave on Sunday was to ask myself the question, “What do I see when I approach the God-child in the manger? How do I see Him? How do I see myself?” These questions serve as kind of an ice-breaker into a series of meditative thoughts that I hope lead us to some of the following valuable conclusions:
#1 – We serve a God who left Everything to come to be with Us (personalize this…He came to not just to be with US, but to be with ME..and YOU)
#2 – We serve a God who is FOR Us. His incarnation is proof of this, isn’t it?
#3 – Jesus was teaching us from the moment that He entered the world about how we should DIVEST ourselves of ourselves. Philippians 2 describes this as an “emptying” process: “He emptied himself, taking the form of a bond-servant” (Phil. 2:7, NASB).
#4 – There is NOTHING that I can do or bring to add to the GIFT of Jesus’ coming to this earth (or to the redemption story itself). As the little drummer boy sang, “I have no gift to bring that is fit for a King!”
There is a time for us to look at our offerings to God, but it must NOT precede our looking deeply at the LOVE of Christ. Offerings that precede an encounter with the LOVE of Christ are likely to have been given under a state of coercion, guilt or through an interest in being found worthy of the Grace of God. The order (and thus, the motivation) is so important. We love because He first loved us. We wouldn’t even know how to give if it weren’t for His example. I would almost go as far as to say that if your giving doesn’t stem from some deep-rooted compulsion to give as Christ gave, then refrain from giving. Spend more time with Jesus…understand that He loves you unconditionally and that there is nothing you can do to earn or increase His favor of you. After you encounter Him, you will know what to do next…His Love has a way of making that clear!
Below is the link to our class audio from December 20th, 2015: