Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: JAM (02/09/17)
- TITLE: Jesus and ?
By Terry Bovinet
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Rev. Lance Albreck, pastor at Peace Church, had invited Rev. Schubert to present his message entitled “JAM” when a peer recommended him. After introducing James, Lance took a seat in the first row of chairs and then watched as Rev. Schubert strode up to the pulpit like a conquering hero, lifted his hands to quiet the congregation, and exclaimed with a “preacher” voice that resounded with authority, “Jesus and Me!”
Lance surveyed the crowd, some of whom had read materials from James’ website and some who would hear from this ministry for the first time. He could distinguish between the two camps as the one uproariously applauded the opportunity to hear from the founder of JAM Ministries while the second camp politely clapped.
Something about “Jesus and Me” struck Lance as awkward, uncomfortable, even misdirected.
“Sounds a bit egocentric,” Lance muttered under his breath as the noise diminished. “Should have checked this out more before I scheduled him.”
Lance thought back upon the enthusiastic response from his peer who called him after his introduction to JAM.
“You need to schedule one at Peace Church,” his friend pleaded. “Life-changing!”
Those words ran through Lance’s mind as James began his almost manic delivery.
“Jesus and me! Me and Jesus! Now everyone, repeat after me!” James’ frenzy created its desired effort on the congregation, or most of them, and Lance looked around to witness some of the same people who occasional dozed through parts of his messages now thoroughly engaged and chanting with James.
Lance tried to keep an open mind for the next 63 minutes, but the horizontal aspect of the message with its focus on the individual and its emphasis on “me, me, me” did raise some red flags in his thinking.
“Feeling alone in the world? Remember, Jesus and Me! Forsaken by others? Jesus and Me! Frustrated with life? Jesus and Me!”
With each phrase, Lance could sense the approval of those he loved as his church family, but noticed the dichotomy between their response to him compared to that given to James. “Jesus and Me will get you out of lots of jams!” The crowd burst with a resounding cheer this play on words.
When he finished his preaching, James, sweating profusely and red-faced from his exertions, walked ceremoniously down from the platform and joined Lance.
“Top that!” James carefully leaned over and spoke directly into Lance’s ear, “By the way, if you schedule me at some churches of your friends, I will give you part of the love offering. Like ten percent!” The self-assured grin on James’ face furiously waved the red flags.
A slap on his back and James’ nodding head confirmed Lance’s concerns. He chastised himself for not fully vetting the man standing next to him. And he wondered about the motivations of his peer who recommended James to him.
Waiting for the wild response to lessen, Lance made his way to the platform, but without the pomp of his predecessor.
“I can tell from your response how much you appreciated the words from our brother. Jesus and Me. How true. Well,” his pregnant pause delivered the full attention of the crowd on him, “a partial truth.”
“Jesus did not come to earth for me alone. Or for you alone. Jesus came to earth for many. Many in need of good news. Many in need of a relationship with God. Many in need of others.”
Lance surveyed the now strangely quiet crowd in contrast to a few minutes ago, but one that reflected on his words. He also looked at James and refused to allow his cold eyes and stern scowl to distract him.
“Jesus and Many. Many people. Many reasons. Many ways that go beyond just me.” The quiet stress he placed on each word contrasted markedly with James’ furor.
Lance stepped aside as James rushed back onto the platform while fumbling with his cordless microphone to turn it back on.
“But, remember, Jesus would have come for you and you alone!” James implored.
“Yes, but I do not stand alone or in isolation. Jesus is not only about me, but about many.”
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