Today’s Word from Pastor Tom Kidd…
Long before he became disgraced and appropriately incarcerated, Bill Cosby delighted millions of fans with his comedic routines about his life growing up. Now, it was never permissible to swear in my family (I remember my mother backhanding me for saying “son of a gun,” assuming a different rendering). Yet, Dad laughed himself silly when, in one of his routines about life growing up with his father, Cosby commented, “I was twelve before I realized my name wasn’t Goddamit!”
So, I learned that being provocative with the Lord’s name for entertainment’s sake was somehow more permissible. I confess that paradigm was to later become a bit of a personal breeding ground for trouble. Anyway, I knew growing up I could still expect a backhand if I were to utter such an expression.
Similarly, I remember a friend who always knew he was in trouble if, before his name, his father would utter the words, “For Christ’s sake….” I never ever remember that expression being uttered in a positive or encouraging context. Rather, always as a critical prelude to a description of failure, disgust, or rejection. Isn’t that strange? Christ’s name being uttered in such a context?
Years later, as an adult, a senior mentor of mine was speaking to me of his failed relationship with his father, when he invoked the very same phrase, but in an entirely different context. He shared how he had come to the place where he needed to speak truth to his father. He did not like his father, and wasn’t particularly interested in a relationship with him. As a man of faith, my mentor believed there was an unfinished piece to his father’s story. “If my father is ever to experience grace in his life, then he must know the truth, for Christ’s sake.”
When motivation to do the right thing is lacking, maybe we can find the courage to do it for Christ’s sake? Interesting. God is God, and grace is grace, regardless of our participation. Yet, if an action gives God the glory, then we are doing it for Christ’s sake. A former parishioner, a 90-year-old widowed former pastor’s wife, when asked why she participated in freedom marches, would respond, “For Christ’s sake!” Of course, there were all the appropriate boxes checked as to the need for justice for the disenfranchised, women’s rights, black lives matter, etc. But ultimately it came down to, “For Christ’s sake!” Her Lord had redeemed her, and grace had set her free to act for Christ’s sake, on behalf of others. She has never failed to inspire me. Next to her, I can feel a bit fraudulent as to my motives… I might act because that’s what a pastor is supposed to do; she acts for Christ’s sake.
No one has to remind us that life can feel perilous, and our country is currently being challenged to its very moral fiber. What inspires the shaping of your opinions, and animates your willingness to respond? Your political disposition? Your moral compass? Convenience? How about, for Christ’s sake? MLK always offers for me a Jesus word, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Do it for… you get it.
God’s peace be upon you. We are, as our pastor is wont to say, “One day closer!”
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