Mike Cope's blog

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Yesterday, Diane and I did the communion thoughts and prayers at Highland. What a blessing to share that together. Knowing that she was going to be reading Hebrews 5:7-10, I was struck by this verse from "I Stand Amazed" earlier in the service: For me it was in the garden He prayed, "Not my will, but Thine," He had no tears for his own griefs, But sweatdrops of blood for mine. No tears for his own griefs? Certainly Jesus shed plenty of tears for the sorrows of others, but he was fully human. I'm guessing that the one who "offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death" did shed a few tears for his own grief. Does that somehow diminish his God-ness? - - - - I read the headline with the huge, bold font in this morning's sports page: AGELESS ACE. It's about how Andre Agassi, old codger that he is, can still whip some of the younger players. So just how old is Agassi? 35. That's thirty-five. In other words, this "ageless" wonder was entering kindergarten about the time I was starting out at Harding. - - - - I am upset. At myself. As I watched all those evacuees from inner-city New Orleans, I realized I had never seen them. I've seen Nola's. And Galatoire's. And Ralph & Kakoo's. And the Cafe du Monde. And Preservation Hall. And the Imax. And the Aquarium. But I somehow have managed in all those trips to avoid seeing the 28% of that great city who live below the poverty line. My friend Larry James says that almost all American cities are the same way. The difference is that the people never get flushed out. So we just don't see them. We stay in our malls, theaters, restaurants, and stadiums in the better parts of town. And we complain about our taxes and about the sharing of funds for poorer school districts. But right now I'm not mad at the American people or the American government. Of course, we'll have to face questions of how we've permitted this to exist. We'll have to get rid of our stereotypes of why people are poor as if it was always a choice. (We can always live with it better if moral accusation is involved.) I'm mad at me. All those trips to New Orleans and I didn't see these people who matter as much to God as my own sons. I've been reading Luke 16:19-31 this past week, preparing to teach the university class at Highland. And I didn't like what I saw. Because it's hard to find what the rich man's sin is. He didn't hit Lazarus, didn't kick him out; didn't hurl insults at him. He just ignored him. Lazarus wasn't even a blip on his radar screen. There's something unique about this parable of Jesus: a person is named! I wonder if it's because Jesus wanted us to know that--in the world of the story--Lazarus is a person. He has a name. God knows him and cares deeply about him. O, dear Lord, please open my eyes to see Lazarus. Because I'm privileged, he's hard to find. I know how to steer around him. But let me see!

16 Comments:

  • Great thoughts, Mike. I often think the same thing when I realize that I notice the roofer doing maintenance on the building outside my window only in the context of how he is making too much noise for me to think, or the clown at the traffic light who is an annoyance to me. It's not that I wouldn't be nice to these folks, it's just that I see them in the context of how they are affecting ME, and other than that, I don't even notice them at all. It wakes me up every once in a while...

    As far as the age thing, I played softball last night on the HU faculty team (first time to play in about 7 years), and thought I was doing well to be out there at 49. But the highlight of the evening was when Jimmy Allen (75 yrs old!) slid into third on a close play. He was out. Slacker.

    By Blogger don, at 9/06/2005 07:02:00 AM  

  • Ouch!!

    By Blogger Brad, at 9/06/2005 07:04:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    I know you have done a lot of work on women leadership in the church and I was wondering where I could find some of that information. I also have been doing some study on women's roles and I was wondering what you thought about the following interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12.

    "The only way to translate the genitive of the word so that it makes sense as a modifier of both infinitives is to use an adjectival word or phrase, such as "manly" or "as a man." Translating in this fashion gives us, "I permit not a woman to teach manly, nor to exercise authority manly," or perhaps, "I suffer not a woman to teach in a manly fashion, nor to exercise authority in a manly fashion."

    Thus, in this passage Paul is not saying that a woman is not allowed to teach, or exercise authority. He is not even saying that a woman is not allowed to teach men, or exercise authority in man's presence. He is telling a woman that when she does these things, no matter where she does them, she is to restrain herself from behaving like a man."

    By Blogger Robert, at 9/06/2005 07:27:00 AM  

  • Thank God our younger generation ARE seeing them Mike. Fortress CofC had 14 University student interns this past summer; Impact had probably 3 times that many. Hopefully Larry James' group kept a bunch of college kids working hard. ACU is implementing an Urban ministries major. Former interns are starting urban ministries all over.

    Brighter days are ahead. The funny and sad thing is -- most of these kids doing urban ministries are from upper-middle class homes. Parents exhausted themselves to keep these kids safe, out of harms way, and very much entrenched in far, outlying suburbia.

    I guess the kids had other ideas.

    By Blogger KentF, at 9/06/2005 07:29:00 AM  

  • Kent - You are so right, brother. We parents have tried so hard to protect our children from that world; thankfully, many of them are having NONE of it. They see the footsteps of Jesus leading to places that aren't deemed s-a-f-e.

    Robert - That material is available through Highland, if you'll call the office. I hope that soon we'll have the one-hour message I did early in the year streamed on the highlandchurch.org website.

    Don - Jimmy Allen sliding at age 75. I love it! While I preached in Searcy, I played a lot of noon basketball with Jimmy. The man -- one of my heroes! -- plays to win.

    By Blogger Mike, at 9/06/2005 09:32:00 AM  

  • Whoa...great observations on the Lazarus story. I've never read it like that before.

    By Blogger Agent B, at 9/06/2005 10:20:00 AM  

  • Wow! I hope we all have the faith and courage to echo that prayer. Thank you.

    By Blogger Josh, at 9/06/2005 04:16:00 PM  

  • If confession is the beginning of true faith in Jesus, then faith is breaking out in this most recent post.

    Thanks for having the courage to say what many of us keep locked away.

    By Blogger Josh.Graves, at 9/06/2005 04:20:00 PM  

  • Speak it...speak the truth! I want to see Lazarus too. And I want to do something about him.

    But it's hard when you're amidst people who call the poor the "dregs of society" and "trash we don't want". I've heard both this week.

    Lots to say about all this. But why? If we are Christians, it all boils down to loving other people, no matter their race, their economic status, etc.

    Keep speaking the truth, Mike!

    By Blogger Jana, at 9/06/2005 05:04:00 PM  

  • To add an additional dimension to your Lazarus analogy. A friend of a friend was assisting the evacuees at the Superdome and while there she was raped. However, she refused to leave, because she felt there were people there that needed her help.

    By Blogger Perceivance, at 9/06/2005 05:21:00 PM  

  • Perceivance -

    That . . . is . . . an . . . amazing . . . story! Is there any way I could interview this person--even without knowing who she is? She deserves every bit of privacy she wants. How horrific. But I have a feeling that somewhere behind that hellish experience must be a woman of profound faith. I'm in awe tonight just hearing this. My weak prayers look so meager.

    By Blogger Mike, at 9/06/2005 06:07:00 PM  

  • "Whatsoever you do to the least of My people, that you do unto Me."

    By Blogger Beaner, at 9/06/2005 06:52:00 PM  

  • Perceivance, you have absolutely blown my mind with your story. Such a horrible thing to happen and then to keep working to help. Wow!! Mike is right...there has to be amazing faith there.
    grace and peace, Julie

    By Blogger julie, at 9/06/2005 07:24:00 PM  

  • ooo...good one. I lived in New Orleans and also ignored the poor on the street. It's easy to generalize and attribute them as annoyances and beggars. Ignoring them seems more like a defence rather than an offence. This new insight on Lazarus is... well, amazing and shameful toward me. I too pray for change in my perspective from now forward.

    Your FHU graduate friend,
    Jeremy

    By Blogger Jeremy, at 9/06/2005 07:50:00 PM  

  • may i assume you have seen this?

    http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/09/01/harding

    j. cliff

    By Blogger J. Cliff, at 9/06/2005 10:56:00 PM  

  • great stuff, mike. thanks.

    By Blogger Greg, at 9/08/2005 09:09:00 AM  

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