Friday, October 16, 2009

Blogging Towards Sunday, October 18

Leadership Vacuum in the Church

There's been a ton of recent brouhaha about President Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.  Some saying he hasn't done enough.  Others wondering who else could have been nominated, recognizing an apparent leadership vacuum in the world of those working to and for peace.  This recent picture from the Economist raising the issue - is Obama already great before he's done anything? [article] Are we so desperate for models of authentic, sincere and effectively world-transforming leadership that we reward those that seem to have promise?

This week's lectionary gospel selection raises the question of leadership.  What does it mean to be a leader when also a follower of Jesus?  It's not just about getting glory, seeking the best seat, or receiving a prize.  I doubt many Christians would receive the Nobel prize for their discipleship, yet many view their faith-choice as the ultimate prize-winner: salvation, life in heaven, escaping the nasty and gritty world in which we live.  Yet Jesus in the text this week lifts up the reality that we're called both by and in faith to transform the world, to live as Jesus lived - and died.  To conform our lives to the life of the one we call teacher, master and savior.  How can we expect to do that when so often we're looking for the easy way out, avoiding this world by focusing our energy on the next?  How can we hope to do that when we think that a Christian leader needs to be someone who is so humble that they're nice to everyone and allow themselves to be walked upon as a doormat martyr?  How do we live the baptism that we're baptized into: to serve rather than be served?

This morning I awoke to massive Facebook chatter about the racist, yet claiming to not be racist, judge in  Louisiana who refused to allow an inter-racial marriage on the grounds that they aren't effective, and don't last. [article on NPR: Interracial Couple Denied Marriage License].  Who knows if the judge is Christian.  But isn't this the kind of situation in which those that follow Jesus are called to stand up and lead, to fight for faith that transforms the world into a just one where the wolf will lie with the lamb, instead of focusing solely on private and personal piety in view of obtaining a pie-in-the-sky spot in the clouds?  Maybe we're grown so accustomed to being served, or rather serving our owns needs of maintenance and self-affirmation, that we know long know how to serve the wider world in a missiological sense, one that affirms and exhorts the values of the gospel: freedom, grace, equality, just beloved community, love and mutual forbearance?

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