If I were a prophet, what vision would I share?
God was just stretching my imagination recently when I considered for a moment what it would be like if I were a prophet of God sent to Lubbock, Texas. Jesus was a prophet, you know? Yeah, a prophet mighty in deed and word (Luke. 24:19). And he came to show God’s people just what it looks like when God comes to his own people to be crowned king. And this being Good Friday – coronation day – I was imagining him coming to my town.
Do you remember that Joan Osborne song – What If God Was One of Us?
I am not sure, really, just what Osborne thought she would achieve with that question and song, but irrespective of her offering perhaps with my own take on it, it is still a good question. How would God come to Lubbock, if he were coming to visit? And what if Jerusalem had asked and sincerely considered that thought on that original Good Friday so long ago?
If Jerusalem had been on the button, I think that city would have recognized the day of their visitation, but they did not (Luke 19:41-45). That city was visited by it’s God in the form of a young prophet riding into town on a donkey amid the cheers of waving palm branches, and according to St. Mark’s account, he moved immediately to the Temple to check things out (Mark. 11:11), but then turned around and left again without event. This is quite amazing when you consider how Ezekiel, another prophet of a much older time predicted the day (Ezek. 43:1-5). That triumphant return was the stuff of Jerusalem’s dreams.
Well, maybe, just maybe, Ezekiel saw what those who do not recognize the day of visitation fail to see. But those of us reading Mark see Jesus return the next day and curse the fig tree on his way in and find it withered up on his way out – a metaphor symbolizing the uselessness of a temple not fit for God to live in. But, of course, the wild actions that young prophet takes in between those stops at the fig tree might well be what the much older prophet saw – and is, after all, something akin to that scene when the Glory of the Lord first entered the place (II Chron. 5:13-14) – by that I mean, the priests could not minister in the Temple because of the Glory of God taking over!
But what, exactly, did Jerusalem think they were seeing when this young prophet came along like that? They certainly were not asking: What if God was one of us? And if they had, they certainly were not thinking he would show up like an uppity peasant from Galilee throwing tables! Oh sure, the other homeless drifters and peasants considered the idea for a day or two, but by the time he was arrested, even they, along with everyone else, forsook him and fled (Mark. 14:50).
So… What if God was one of us? What if God visited Lubbock, Texas. Would he visit as an uppity, yet humble, prophet? And if he did, what would he see?
I am just spit-balling, I know. For who can know the mind of God? (Rom. 11:34; I Cor. 2:16). But what if I dare…? What if I look at my town through a Bible lens? Could I come close?
The first thing I see in this vision is a homeless man hopping out of the back of a clunky old pickup truck as it reaches Lubbock’s city limits or maybe down at the Flyin’ J truck stop. Like before, he comes to his own very humbly. Perhaps there would be fan fare if Lubbock had fan fare for the homeless, but I don’t know of any. So, I presume he comes hitchhiking in an old Chevy. As he passes through town on the way to the drop off spot, he sees dozens of steeples – many of them poking out above the treetops. Some of these churches are monolithic monstrosities with steeples and bell towers stretching forty or fifty feet into the sky. Some are sprawling complexes covering whole city blocks. Our homeless prophet (God incarnate) is eager to enter his church, but which one?
He finds his church splintered and spread out all over the place. Some of these sanctuaries have names like Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Church of Christ, Christian Church, Church of God in Christ, and so on. Some say Baptist, but all have distinguishing designations such as First, Second, Primitive and so forth. It can all be a bit confusing. Where will this prophet throw tables? And which bunch does NOT want to host him???
So he goes down to Broadway street where a lot of these denominations are represented and he begins turning door knobs. But the doors don’t open! They are locked. He tries again. Nope. Still locked. How can he throw tables if he can’t even get inside? What is a Master of a House to do??? Apparently the servants watching the door(s) have fallen asleep (Mk. 13:35-36). Hmmm…
So, the vision reveals three things – all of which are addressed in the Bible: 1) God is the humble stranger we might have invited in (Gen. 18:1-21; Mt 25:31-46; Heb. 13:2), or not; 2) Jesus’s desire that his disciples all be of one accord (instead of splintered into denominations that cannot worship together (Jn 17:21)) seems to be under threat: 3) thus his house is not served by alert servants (Mk. 13:35-36).
Do I sound judgmental? I try to imagine if God were one of us and if I were in his prophetic shoes, and so, is the prophetic vision I get just distasteful judgementalism that should be dismissed?
Or is there sin we should be addressing?
Perhaps Good Friday is a good time to think about it.
Jesus is crucified at the edge of town again tonight. If you want to find him and … say apologize for not being ready to receive him in the HOUSE he gave you to live in, you can find him at Tent City on the corner of 13th and Ave A or under the Interstate overpass below the Flyin’ J. You can find him all around the Wal-mart on Ave Q and the Marsha Sharp Freeway. And if you look very carefully, he has a crash spot behind the bushes on the southeast corner of the South Loop and Slide Road – yeah, look close right up in the bushes there on the corner across the lot from the old Rooms To Go store. Look around the playa lake behind the Stripes truck stop on 50th and Ave A. Check out back of that little church by the Sonic and Family Dollar on 34th Street. Walk around the park below the Park Tower Apartments on down Ave. Q and 27th.
He stays there too.
Go now. The night is young. There is still time to pay homage to your prophet King on Good Friday when he receives his crown.
Yeah… What if God was one of us???