This post is part of Mennonite Church USA’s MennoCon21 #BringThePeace series.
Glen will speak on “Bring the Peace” during the Saturday worship service at MennoCon21. He will also lead a MennoCon21 seminar, “Reawakened: How Your Congregation Can Spark Lasting Change” Wednesday, July 7 at 4:00 p.m. in Room 237/238.
I am not a big fan of professional wrestling, but I am a big fan of The Rock, “The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment.” I am not exactly sure who decided The Rock deserved this title, but I have to admit I enjoyed watching him wrestle and put the smackdown on his opponents with “The People’s Elbow” and the “Rock Bottom.” But alas, no matter how electrifying Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson appears to be on television, he is just a character. The WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) is, dare I say, fake. The Rock’s moves are scripted. His battles are meant for entertainment, not for transformation. While I admire his muscles and “The People’s Eyebrow,” Dwayne is not the champion that gives me purpose. He is not the real “Rock.”
Jesus helped Peter recognized the importance of the a rock in Matthew 16:18-19 (NRSV): “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Paul clarifies in 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 (NRSV) that Jesus is our source rock, “I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.” I think about the layers of tradition and religiosity that we have adopted as a denomination and individuals. Have we covered over the transformative power of Christ? Are we standing on the Rock, or have we covered him with policy, procedure, and cultural bias?
I think about the structures we have built and wonder if we may have intentionally bound and insulated ourselves from the “The Most Electrifying Power in the Universe,” Christ. It is time that we, as the members of Mennonite Church USA reconnect with who we are Christ. Now I am not saying that we are heretics, but maybe we have become too insulated from our roots. We might need to dust ourselves off, recharge or hit that “Rock Bottom” to reset ourselves.
In our renewed commitments, we say, “The Holy Spirit dwells in and among us, transforming us to reflect God’s love. Through worship, the Spirit gathers the body of Christ, where our diversity reveals God’s beauty. The Spirit empowers our communities to embody the grace, joy and peace of the gospel.” That is electrifying and real.
It is time for us, as a church body and as individuals, to set our feet firmly on the rock that is Jesus, opening up ourselves to the transforming power that only comes through the Messiah. Our connection to Christ is what will give us life. I believe that God is big enough to help us overcome our struggles. I believe Acts 4:12 (NRSV), “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.” Too often, we have adopted the posture that somehow, we, as mere mortals, hold the keys to salvation and the gates of hell. My God is bigger than that. The connection that I have to the vine is stronger than any one individual or group. According to John 15:3-4 (NIV), I am empowered and transformed because of my connection to Christ: “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” As long as I stay connected to the source, I am, as the vernacular says, “good.” As long we, as a denomination, stay connected to the vine, we are “good.”
Transformation lies in the power of God, not our fears, our anxiety or our past paradigms of holiness.
As the old hymn goes:
“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”
The views and opinions expressed in this blog belong to the author and are not intended to represent the views of the MC USA Executive Board or staff.