Jesus Didn’t Ask…

As many of us have watched our childhood home burn this past year, expecting necessary and urgent assistance that never arrived, I’ve wondered: When the ashes settle, what will all this have meant? Ineffable injury and deception, countless amounts of invested efforts and time from so many..and injustice for all! What could possibly be rescued from this rubble? 

Hmm.. About that necessary and urgent assistance we awaited..? I’m reminded that Jesus in Luke 18:8 (NIV) said, “I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Clearly, Jesus’ version of efficient and just restitution is not mine. And what a curious way to respond to a question of justice. But maybe this verse wafts up from the wreckage now because it identifies what Jesus wants me to hear above the fire’s roar: not a message of immediate (or even foreseeable!) rectitude, but a message of faith? (And faith smokes out fear.)

I don’t know. But pondering the burn more from the sidelines now, I’m considering something else. More than this question that Jesus asked, I’ve begun to hear many more questions that Jesus did NOT ask… And I suspect that too has meaning. (i.e., Maybe if Jesus didn’t say much about it, it’s not that important.. just falling ash?) Here’s what caught my attention: 

Jesus didn’t ask if there would be apostles (or workers!) on the earth when He returns, or if they would be married or single. Since He sent both, He didn’t seem to prefer one over the other. He didn’t ask if there would be saints on the earth when He returns.. or if they would be married or single or divorced or remarried. Because He didn’t seem to be so interested in our perfection or our mistakes. He knew His people would not be saints. He also knew that criminals and false prophets would co-mingle with His people, unchecked for a time, with much devastation… and that some would put faith in them rather than Him. 

Jesus didn’t ask if there would still be gospel meetings when He returns. Nor did He give instructions about having or attending them! He didn’t ask if there would be enough strangers wanting to be friends or enough 

outsiders wanting to be insiders. He didn’t ask how many of said meetings would be happening each week or who would attend. He didn’t ask people to profess in one of these meetings, or to profess before baptism, or to do either before participating in communion. He simply didn’t ask or teach about that. He didn’t use words like “insider” and “outsider” and “stranger” and “gospel meetings” and “profess.” He was the stranger, and would have, of course, been a “friend” to anyone.

Jesus didn’t ask if there would be special meetings or union meetings or grape juice or wine in your home or a One True Way when He returns. He didn’t ask if there would be men wearing ties or beards,or women wearing skirts or buns. Nor did He express concern about women with ties or men in skirts (as men typically wore in Jesus’ day). What Jesus had to say about how we’re dressed was, “Don’t worry about it.” (Matt 6:28-30) 

Jesus didn’t ask about (or in any way express interest in) the future of trust funds, or if there would be money for convention grounds or other buildings built with human hands. Because He dwells in hearts, that was not his concern. (Matt 24:2) He didn’t ask where or when or how often or with whom people would be worshipping when He returns. He just expected us to be worshipping in the Spirit and in truth… (John 4:23) He was more about hearts directed by the Holy Spirit than minds and bodies directed by ceremony. 

Jesus didn’t ask if the religious system He carefully crafted years ago would be handed down to us intact, unchanged and still functioning properly when He returns. In fact, He didn’t design a religious system to be asking about. He came to put an end to the system!

So I’ve wondered.. Could this be the ashes we see? The ruins that remain afire? The teaching that was off the foundation, the boxifying of God, His Son and His people, and the indefensible system that was never meant to be rescued.. all burning to the ground? 

In lieu of a system, Jesus taught us to LOVE, and how. That mind-boggling love casts out fear, so that we can learn to trust Him completely to rebuild our lives! His expert construction and warrantee plan are 100% reliable.. fireproof! Some of our lives (yes, mine) may not look very structured much of the time, but He will gently build solid personal relationships with us that will withstand any fire or fury: Awe-inspiring, indescribable relationships like the one Cleopas and his friend had with “the stranger” in Luke 24. 

Those extraordinary relationships seem to be often catching fire with other similar relationships.. and forming little love villages (pardon the boho; just think CCF!).These flames burn inside hearts, connecting and building up, not destroying and burning down. Thank God for these flames! And may I say, Thank God for this burning of our childhood home, and that the assistance we awaited never arrived! Because what I’ve so inadequately tried to describe in these paragraphs includes the unforeseen “assistance” that’s been arriving instead: Love and connections like never before!

While we wouldn’t have wished on anyone a fraction of these tragic experiences, through all of the grief and trauma, God’s love is radiating from the ruins. Several have suggested lately that He may be doing a wisely-planned “controlled burn,” to remove what’s choking out life, what’s already dead/unnecessary/unchristlike (traditions, unscriptural doctrine, abuse, crime, e.g.). Although the air can be hard to breathe, and all around looks like a wasteland, I’m reminded that God saw before the burn what only God can see. He then planned what only He could plan, and now sends what only He can send to make conditions just right for new growth. Our God, who’s already in our futures, sees our situations, plans our way, and sends just what we didn’t even know we needed—and does it all in divine love! The divine love that can be sustained unto divine justice. Not my version of justice—God’s!

To simply have faith in the power of that, to grow in that, to participate in that and reflect that to others until He returns? What a small ask. May that ember continue to light us all up!

Suzanne Thompson
Raleigh, NC
April 26, 2024