Posting two weeks in a row. Whoa.
First week of fall semester is just about in the books. I can say this for sure: I’m grateful for Zoom, but I am tired of Zoom.
Kate says: desperate.
He went on in this vein for a long time, urging them over and over, “Get out while you can; get out of this sick and stupid culture!”
– Acts 2:40 (MSG)
The Apostle Peter was by no means unintelligent. He ran a business before giving up everything to follow Jesus (Matthew 4:18-22). He (arguably) understood who Jesus was before the other core disciples did (Matthew 16:16). He wrote (most likely meaning, in that culture, dictated to a scribe) two letters that are packed with deep, interesting, and deeply interesting, theology. But Peter wasn’t Paul. I can’t imagine him sitting down to compose (again, picture a scribe with him) lengthy treatises full of run-on sentences and rhetorical twists and turns. I mean, maybe he did, and we just don’t have them. It’s possible.
Still, I imagine Peter as a person of action. He drops his net and follows Jesus. He babbles on the mountaintop when Jesus is suddenly transformed and has a chat with Moses and Elijah; he wants to build them houses. He steps out of the boat and onto the water. He cuts off a guy’s ear. He promises that he will never, ever turn away from Jesus.
And then he does.
The sick and stupid culture, full of its wrong expectations, Peter knows all about it. I believe that he was utterly honest when he told Jesus that he would never abandon Him. Thing is, for all his understanding and devotion, Peter didn’t quite get there when it came to the Messiah and the Kingdom and all that that meant. He got scared when Jesus didn’t do what he thought Jesus would do. So he lied, and swore. Then the rooster crowed and he sobbed. Darkness and hiding followed. Then – “Simon, son of John, do you love Me…?” (John 21:15)
Peter knew life before Jesus, with Jesus, without Jesus, and with Jesus again.
So when he tells his audience on that long ago Pentecostal day to get out of the sick and stupid culture, he knows what he’s talking about. The urgency, it’s in his voice. In his choice of words. In, I imagine, the way he’s standing – leaning forward, muscles taught, finger occasionally punctuating the air. He is desperate for his listeners to hear, to know, to understand – nothing but Jesus and the way of Jesus.
He calls them to enter into the upside-down Kingdom, the one where God took on flesh to serve and to save. Where greatness is found in leastness. Where the strong use their advantages and resources to care for the weak. Where all wrong expectations are released in favor of ever-learning and growing in the presence of God.
May we heed his words.
May we get out of our sick and stupid culture.
Stop trying to desperately smooth a layer of fake-sugar Jesus-frosting over the hopelessly burned and disgusting cake, in the hopes of disguising the taste.
Let it go.