The book of Acts begins with Jesus' farewell to his disciples on the Mount of Olives. These were the ones who had walked with him, listened to him, cried with him, and promised to spread his message. Jesus opened his arms for a final blessing, and a hand went up at the back of the group.
"Lord," said the disciple, "is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?"
And Jesus rolled his eyes, stifled angry words, and slowly got control of himself. After all this time, after three years of teaching and preaching, after witnessing the crucifixion and resurrection, his followers were still asking the wrong question. They still didn't get it. I wonder if Jesus feared that he might have bet on the wrong horse by picking these yard-apes.
But Jesus swallowed hard and replied through clenched teeth, "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you."
The whole scene gives me pause. In terms of my relationship with God in Christ, am I asking the right question? Are we, here at FCC, asking the right question? Is the church, which purports to be followers of Christ today, asking the right question? It's a sobering thought.
As I look carefully at the unnamed disciple's question it seems mistaken because it was based on the wrong agenda. The disciple simply wanted what the others wanted, what all his friends wanted, what all the nation of Israel wanted.
It never occurred to him to ask what God wanted. I think that's the key. We spend so much time in the church worrying and fretting over what we want, what the majority will vote for, that we often forget to ask what God might want.
And what does God want? I think it's obvious. God wants us to be the church - not the Rotary Club, not a political action committee, not a service institution. We may do some of the same tasks as those groups, but they do not define us.
Therefore, here, in my humble opinion, is the right question: How can we be who we are? How can we live out our identity as followers of Christ regardless of whether society thinks we are wonderful or nutty as a fruitcake? How can we be the church God has called us to be, not the church everyone else expects us to be?
Sunday, September 10, is Rally Day. Most of our programs and activities will resume that day or shortly thereafter. I'm praying for a good year, but not business as usual. I'm praying for a year of discovery, a year of examining my own life as a Christian, and our lives together as God's family.
And it all starts with asking the right question.