Pope Francis Smells Like Sheep
(and so should we)
I'm not a Catholic but I am developing a bit of a ministry crush on Pope Francis. Now, it's not my job to judge somebody's motivations, but I have to say I enjoy how he's acting less like a first year Pope and more like a first year priest. My punk rock side really enjoys how he's making both conservatives and liberals scratch their heads and agree. He rides the wonderfully tough line of being theologically conservative yet socially loving. Okay, see, I'm gushing now...
During his Easter Mass, homily thing, Francis said that the priests and Catholics should be going out to find the lost sheep, and when they are done they better smell like those lost sheep. Now it doesn't take a PhD in literary analysis to know that he is using a metaphor here (if you've been inspired to quit your job, find stray sheep and smell like them I am sorry. Take a shower and come talk to me). What Francis is saying is that it's time to get out of our pews and into the world.
That makes sense right, but why did he have to put in the “smell like sheep” thing? That sounds a bit extreme, right? What he's doing, and what is done a lot in scripture, is calling us out on being missional wimps. We love to do short term, low investment, low return missions extravaganzas. We love to pass out tracts, build orphanages, and post statuses about how awesome Jesus is. Most of that is just fine and dandy, but we are still the church, they are still the world, they smell like sin, and we smell like cheap coffee and stale donuts.
Jesus rants on the goody goody religious types by saying, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.' But wisdom is proved right by her actions.” -Matthew 11:19. For the purpose of today's rant look at the word “friend.” They weren't accusing Jesus of preaching to sinners. They weren't accusing Jesus of trying to convert prostitutes or even heal tax collectors. They were accusing Him of being friends with them. This was not an accidental word choice.
If you're my friend you know my life. You know my wife. You know my kids. You know my dreams, goals, struggles, sins, aspirations. You know all this and you live life with me. Last night my family went out for ice cream and I saw somebody that I work with, and she gave me a half wave and didn't speak to me. NOT A FRIEND. The other day at work I had somebody go out of their way to seek me out to see how my life is going and if my family needed anything. FRIEND.
This is smelling like a lost sheep. This is what Jesus did and what Francis is talking about.
Growing up in Evan-jellyfish Churchianity (thanks Propaganda) most of the youth sermons I heard were about choosing the right friends so everybody would know I was a good Christian young man and that I wouldn't getting influenced by all the evil in the world. While there is truth here and having a good group of core fellow believers is essential to keep our faith sound and vibrant, it is also essential to have a solid group of non-believers that we are concerned about, caring about, and living and preaching the Gospel to. If your faith is turning stagnant, swampy, and the most inspiring thing you've seen in a while is The Bible on the History Channel or any movie with Kirk Cameron, get out of your pew and start stinking.
They aren't coming to us, friends. Jesus said, “Go into all the world, and preach the good news...” -Mark 16:15a. This will hurt your reputation. People in the church will assume you've lost your marbles and your faith (look at any “Christian” band that's had success in the “secular” market place). Your Christian friends might not have you over for coffee any more. But who cares? The Bible doesn't say, “Build a huge building and attract people with your sexy programs, great tunes, and funny sermons.” It's go preach the Good News, live, love, invest, disciple, among those who hate God, but need Him.
Go out. Get stinky.
By Dan Binette
visit his blog>>>_Sinners Circle
The official Christian Culture blog of Grok Radio!