Bishop Wright: 0:00
There is a distinction to be made between things that we think might be guilt-inducing, or shame-inducing even, and a conviction. So a conviction would simply be this is who you say you want to be. For love’s sake and for truth’s sake, allow me to say to you, to point out the gap between who you say you are and how you’re actually living, and that would be called. What that would induce would be conviction.
Melissa : 0:40
Welcome to For People with Bishop Rob Wright. I’m your host, Melissa Rau, and this is a conversation inspired by For Faith, a weekly devotion sent out every Friday. You can find a link to this week’s For Faith and a link to subscribe in the episode’s description. How’s it going, bishop?
Bishop Wright: 0:58
How you doing.
Melissa : 0:59
All right. This week’s devotion is based off Matthew, chapter 21, verses 23 through 32, which is a stretch of the gospel where Jesus’s authority is questioned and a short parable about saying one thing and doing another is highlighted. You titled your devotion ouch and dropped the phrase zombie truth, so I’d love to know what specifically prompted your insights.
Bishop Wright: 1:28
Oh well, you know, I think if we start with that God is love the Bible tells us that God is love and then we work down to then, if God is love and Jesus is the fleshly example of God living among us, then we should start with, perhaps, that, even when Jesus tells us harsh things or tells us hard truths, that love and truth and freedom are what’s driving this right, what’s driving the hard truths, and so I always look at Jesus’s work as saving activity. So whenever I read Jesus telling us even hard things and telling people hard things that he encountered, it’s for the purpose of truth and for the purpose of freedom, and I think to live otherwise is to occupy some sort of zombie space which is alive but not really. There was a time, a few years back, when all the movies were about zombies and all the movies were about vampires, and these beings were sort of alive but not quite alive, and I see Jesus trying to save us.
Melissa : 2:56
Oh wow, Because I feel like sometimes we’re sort of alive but not really live.
Bishop Wright: 3:02
Yeah, Well, I mean, isn’t that something? I mean, it’s sort of the human condition, right, we can be alive on partial truths and we can be alive on the stories that we tell ourselves. And then here comes Jesus, like a bull in a china shop, trying to tell us truth. But, as I said in the meditation, there is a difference between candor and condemnation. That’s a distinction to be made. And there is a distinction to be made between things that we think might be guilt inducing or shame inducing even, and a conviction. So a conviction would simply to be this is who you say you want to be. So, for love’s sake and for health’s sake and for truth’s sake, allow me to say to you point out the gap. Maybe we’ll call it to point out the gap between who you say you are and how you’re actually living, and that would be called. What that would induce would be conviction. So I just want to so we don’t use that word nearly enough, I think, but I think that’s an important word, because I think what we’ve done is those of us who would hold to the truth of Jesus and his love and those of us who would say that we’re under Jesus’ authority is that we’ve been bought off by the words guilt and shame, and so what we immediately want to do is categorize everything that is hard in the categories of guilt and shame, and I think there’s another place to park it, and that other place to park it is. What’s happening is is that I’m being convicted, not sentenced, but I’m being convicted as living opposed to the truths that I say are my truths. And so how does Jesus reconcile us? Well, he’s got to love us enough to tell the truth. And when he tells us the truth, again, the goal is not for you and I to be disrespected, diminished, shamed or guilted. The goal is for you and I, in many ways, to make a choice. How do I actually want to live?
Melissa : 5:25
I’m hearing you and you’re using shame and guilted, and whenever I hear the word shame, I immediately go to Dr Breńe Brown. She talks a lot about vulnerability and I’m listening to you thinking and I’m picturing myself and other people in the pews on church in the Sunday morning and I feel like there are a number of different types of people who listen. But I think sometimes at least I know this from being married to a pastor or a preacher who will want to hear what they want to hear and if they don’t like, they want to be convicted and what they know is right. And yet I think there are other people like myself and I’m not. I just anyway ugh, I’m patting myself on the back, I guess, and that’s not a good thing. I want to be challenged, like I want to get the ouch, because I feel like Jesus has a way of highlighting the ouch. Jesus isn’t causing the ouch, but yet Jesus names it and then is the bomb, because Jesus offers grace.
Bishop Wright: 6:26
Let me come at it this way we had to kill Jesus because Jesus is an irritant Right, and I think about that a lot, especially as we move on down to the season of Lent and certainly into Monday, thursday and Good Friday. We had to get rid of Jesus and in the Episcopal Church at least, one of the most powerful Sundays is that when we read the story of what we call the Passion, the story of Jesus’ betrayal and arrest and eventually his lynching. And as we read it as a normal expression, we read it in parts, and I always love when we allow the entire congregation to say out of one side of their mouth Hosanna, the king is here, the Messiah is here, he’s come to free us. And then a few paragraphs later, we say what?
Melissa : 7:31
Bishop Wright: 7:33
Exactly we say crucify him. And I think that if we’re going to be grown-ups grown-up Christians, that is, people who are actually want to live under the authority and the wisdom of Jesus and his example and his teachings we’re going to have to develop the capacity to hear from Jesus that we might not actually be living as coherently to his truths as we’d like to think, we’d like to think. I like to say, if you’re winning all the arguments with Jesus, you probably ain’t, you’re probably not hanging out with Jesus, and so what’s the spiritual practice in there? We’ve got to let Jesus win some arguments in our life and that’s how you bring your life under the authority of Jesus, and so we can tell Jesus about how we want to do conflict, and Jesus will sit there and listen to us, you know.
Melissa : 8:33
And bless our hearts.
Bishop Wright: 8:34
Exactly. And Jesus will say, as a good servant, he will say bless your heart. And he will say to us, by virtue of his word your strategy, dear child, is not the best strategy, or your child or you, dear child. Your strategy won’t yield what my strategy can yield. So when Jesus says, bless those who curse you, pray for those who despitefully use you, he’s trying to give us his strategy. And so you and I have to make a choice. Well, first of all, the first bit is that we could say ouch. We could say wow, you know, I don’t bless those who curse me. What I do is is that I find somebody on my phone or somebody in the text and I tell them how awful everybody else is and how wonderful I am. Right, that’s what we do. And then and then, as I heard recently and I was visiting the congregation, and then we add distance and subtract trust right Rather than Jesus’s strategy. But you know, here’s, here’s a, here’s an indicator that we’re actually living with Jesus. The actual Jesus of the Bible is that not only is he producing in you you know moments in your devotional life where you feel a nearness, an intimacy, a being understood, of not being alone but it also should produce in you and reveal to you the gaps between how you’re living and how Jesus would have us to live. And we can respond with an ouch, but we shouldn’t stop with the ouch. The ouch is just the front door of a deeper relationship with Jesus. Because we could say ouch and we could say, oh, I see, I see, I see I am living counter to what I say on Sunday. My Monday life and my Sunday life are out of relationship. And then what we could say is and some people might stop it ouch, and they may turn away and say, well, I don’t like that preacher, right? I remember a dear friend of mine had was preaching something and he was going on and then at the end of the worship service, a person came up to him and said to him hey, look, I don’t like what you’re saying here today and I don’t, I don’t like you know, just sort of just making it all personal. And what my friend had the presence of mind to say was well, my dear brother, it seems that the problem you have is not with me, it’s with Jesus. And if we could just put our shoulders down a bit and breathe a little bit, I think that we would see that the ouch is not made to smash us around. The ouch, the conviction. The conviction is always an invitation also, by the way, the invitation is come on, come, come, come in. You know, it’s that wonderful bit from Matthew. You know, come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden right, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. What does disciple mean? It means learner, it means learner, and so that is our position with Jesus. It is to be learner. Some of us want to occupy the space with Jesus of consultant. You know, I’ve got some ideas for you, you know, and I’m not sure that that’s the best configuration for our relationship with him.
Melissa : 12:13
Friends, we’re going to be right back after a short break.
Bishop Wright: 12:18
Hi listeners, Thank you for listening to Four People. A space of digital evangelism. You can keep up with us on Instagram and Facebook at Bishop Robbrite. And now back to Four People.
Melissa : 12:37
Welcome back to Four People. Bishop, before the break you were kind of talking about ouch as the front door and you also mentioned invitation, right, and so I guess I’m curious what the front, what does the doormat, need to say?
Bishop Wright: 12:54
Well, that’s good. I mean, I think the doormat is welcome. Oh, I think the doormat actually could be two words, as I say in the meditation Enter here for Christian maturity. Christian maturity, maybe that’s a lot more words than two, but I think you know. So what again? What is Jesus’s goal? I mean, jesus’s words and stories serve a purpose, right? And what is the purpose? The purpose is I love you, I love you, I want you to know that the burdens of life, if you give them to me, will be easier to handle, right? He says I will give you rest, I’ll give you rest for your souls. In another place in Matthew, right In the 11th chapter. So that’s what it is. Or I mean, jesus loves us enough to respect us and says or you go your way, right, you go give it a shot and you see what you find. And that’s what I call zombie truth and zombie life, right. And so I mean, the examples are, you know, innumerable about the ways in which I have and others have tried to go out on our own wisdom right, or our own wounds, or our own triggering right, and try to make a world out of that, and we run immediately quickly into the limitations of that. And then we begin to engineer life around limitation. And Jesus is just saying I mean. In another place in scripture Jesus said I mean God says to the prophet why would you choose death? Why would you? I’m standing right here, arms open for life, why would you choose death? And so the stories that Jesus tells right are supposed to be an invitation always. You know this way for abundant life, this way for Christian maturity, this way for peace, this way for healing right. And he gives us the choice.
Melissa : 15:00
Yeah, well, you just. It’s like you’re reading my mind. You’re using the word choice and I was thinking choices. Yeah, and that was my next question is I think so many times we think black and white and sometimes I think we have to think black and white, Like I want to live into the gray and I know there’s a spectrum right. And yet sometimes I think it comes down to making a choice to either take the ouch one way or take it another way, Like sometimes the choice is only ouch, and which way do you want to go? Do you want to go the ouch of the way of Jesus or ouch of the way that we’re gonna totally mess it up?
Bishop Wright: 15:37
Yeah, no, it’s true. You know, a thousand years ago I was in the Navy and I was in search and rescue dive school and there was a lot of ouches there and you know it was running eight miles every day and swimming more than that. And all of the ouches of that, all of the inconvenience of that, all of the counter cognitive work of that, was to build radical interdependence on teammates, because in the training we were practicing for real life. So when you’re forward deployed, you know you jump it out of a helicopter. You need to know that you can depend on this person right, that we’ve gone through ouches together and the relationship is such that we can now lean on one another. And I think that’s also the part of the ouch is that Jesus is saying hey, you know I don’t do this for ego’s sake, I’m not trying to sort of toss you around. I’m saying to you this is about a thickness of relationship and in the thickness of relationship there is trust. And so if we can’t stomach the little ouches, I mean if I couldn’t stomach the pushups and the sit ups, you know how was I going to do what was necessary when the chips were really down or when, you know someone’s life hung in the balance, and so I think that it’s just about you know. We understand from weightlifting that the muscle has to get torn down a little bit every time in workout to become stronger, and I think that’s about you know the fitness of the muscle, the strength, increased strength of the muscle, maybe pliability, et cetera. Jesus is not very different than that. You say you can’t. You say you want to follow me, come on and follow me. All are welcome. But you know you got to develop some capacity for the stories and you got to develop some capacity to see the gaps between who you say you are right On Sunday and how you’re living on Monday. And so I think this is why Jesus’s stories are so important. I think this is why people don’t want to read the stories, because they know. They know that there’s a newfound accountability Once those stories get in you and start working on you and life could be easier, or life could be, let’s say, we could be better citizens of a status quo If we didn’t live the way Jesus invited us to live. But he’s inviting us into something altogether different. Some people call it the upside down world of the gospel. I call it the right side up world out of the gospel.
Melissa : 18:19
So where does trust fall into all of this?
Bishop Wright: 18:23
Yeah, see, wonderful question. So I think this is what we’re supposed to be building up with in our life with Jesus. I mean, let’s take it out of the spiritual for a second. In a husband and a wife, or a wife and a wife, a husband and a husband, any marital relationship, what you need is the constant evolution of trust, and trust comes from patterns of behavior that you deem reliable. And so Jesus is no different. He’s no different. He’s saying look, my stories are my reliable way to be with you so that you can understand that you can trust my word. Apply this and then you’ll understand. And so I love that. We become more trusting in the word as we apply it. We become more mature in it as we try it, as we go forward. When we try Jesus’s way to do conflict, we begin to lean more on Jesus’s way to do conflict, going forward, because we’ve learned some of the facets and features of the way in which he’s teaching conflict. We experienced some of the freedoms, even in conflict, if we go Jesus’s way, because that’s what we were meant to discover. So the ouch is just an invitation to discovery.
Melissa : 19:44
Well, dang, bishop, thank you as always for your insight and your wisdom and listeners. We’re grateful to you for listening to For People. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook at Bishop Rob Wright. Please subscribe, leave a review and we’ll be back with you next week.