We’re studying Matthew’s gospel around the table in the corner room lately. Its been eye-opening, to say the least. It’s intriguing to me to compare what the Church says about things (like dancing being unacceptable), and what the Bible says: And David was dancing before the LORD with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod. (2 Samuel 6:14). David was favored of God and while his wife didn’t like his behavior, we have every indication that God did. The last time I danced scantily I was around ten years old and in a hay mow with my girlfriends. It was hot summer time. We giggled, as we twisted to the tunes of Elvis Presley and Herman’s Hermits. I have never shed my outer clothes and taken to the streets to scream and shout, though. Can you imagine? I shudder to think of it. My life with Jesus doesn’t always resemble the church’s image of what it ought to be, I suppose. It does, however, resemble the image of failed humanity in communication with God represented in the Good Book. One of the great things about reading the words Jesus said is that you get a sense from them what a great guy he is, and how far afield of church-y convention he operated during his days here. I’ve found Him to have a wonderfully humble spirit, and a gentleness with the least of these that some churches lack. He took time away from his urgent mission to the Jews of his day to bind up broken limbs and lives with the touch of his God/Man hands. Those hands would later be punctured with spikes and bleed freely on middle eastern soil, but before they did, He used them to touch, caress, comfort, sooth, mix medicinal mud packs for blind men, and lift sinful women out of dusty obscurity. Women who lived long days in dark places found Light in Jesus’ touch, and forgiveness in his heart. He loved women in all the right ways. Sometimes this life is hard. Sometimes church rules are difficult to understand. Sometimes, people are prickly, especially those people who care a little too much about church rules and not about hurt feelings. It’s true of us all, I suppose. I know I can have the propensity to get myself all tangled up in doctrine and forget about doing the next right thing, that thing that blesses another and has them in mind. It’s when we forget to notice how hard we’re being on ourselves and others that pain comes calling and we start looking for options. The red letter gospel comes through for us in those times. I’m reading Mark Buchanan’s book, Your God is Too Safe. Mark believes that our wounds are healed by Jesus’ wounds. Think about that. It’s written about in the Bible over and over again: His scarred hands touch our scarred bodies and we are healed. Buchanan also suggests that it is our wounds, themselves, that make it possible for healing to take place. I think he’s right. Whenever we are broken and we turn to Jesus for comfort, we find it. In this way, the wounds that make us desperate for healing become the very things that make that healing possible. Our wounds drive us to God, and he never turns away. Matthew 12:18-21 says this:
“Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope.”
Isaiah spoke those words long before Jesus ever walked the streets of Jerusalem, or left the holy city to meet with his disciples in the wilderness of Judea. I’m so thankful he did. When I was ten, or twelve, or whatever age I was back then and dancing in the hay mow, I was barely awake to my faith. Jesus had only recently nudged me for that last time, whispering to me, “Its time to wake up…time to come home.” Until then, I had searched my whole young life for a strong silent type, who had confidence in himself and wasn’t afraid to use it to bless others. Finally, I’d found him. We are getting re-acquainted during this study of Matthew’s narrative. I’m discovering anew what an amazing man I partnered with all those years ago. I’ve never been sorry about saying YES when he asked me to dance in the spirit of joy at salvation. I’m more thrilled now than I was then to have Him as my dancing partner.
This red-letter study is awakening new understanding in me every time our lil group gets together. Those individual in the corner room have become my church within a church, and I’m grateful and honored to know each one of them. They’ve impacted my life in a hundred different ways, and Jesus, a gazillion more. I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart because of my association with him, and I am, yes, I am, happy all the time.