You Always Play the Get Out of Jail Free Card

RockyWhat You’ve Missed…
* A lot of talk about circumcision.  I mean, A LOT.  More than you’d think you’d find in a really holy book.
* An angry mob attacks and stones Paul.  Everyone thinks he’s pretty much dead, but then he just gets up and walks away.  It’s kind of like the final scene in Rocky, except he’s getting hit in the face with rocks, instead of padded boxing gloves.  And there’s less Burgess Meredith.
* Paul casts a demon out of girl who was following him around, because the demon just got really annoying after awhile.  This is basically the New Testament version of Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in Rush Hour.
* Paul gets beaten a second time.  It’s not as much like Rocky II as you’d expect, and there’s still no Burgess Meredith.

Day 319
Daily Reading: Acts 15-17

Paul’s life at this point consists basically of two things: Preaching about Jesus and getting beat up, and preaching about Jesus and safely running away from an angry mob.  Pretty simple really.  Acts 15 has Paul preaching about Jesus and getting beat up.  Then he gets thrown into jail, which spices things up a bit.

So how does Paul handle a serious ass kicking and then being wrongfully imprisoned?  Like a champ.  The guy spends his time singing hymns while the other prisoners listen.  Basically he doesn’t let the man get him down.  I mean, he has a better attitude than that guy in The Shawshank Redemption, which is pretty hard to beat.  Instead of complaining and whining, the guy just starts up a karaoke club, belting out the hits late into the night.  Turns out God’s a pretty big karaoke fan, because here how He responds.

Karaoke“Suddenly there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!  The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, ‘Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!’”  Acts 16:26-28

Are you kidding me?  Paul doesn’t get the heck outta Dodge immediately?  He doesn’t see the earthquake as God’s escape plan for him?  Paul just got handed the world’s first Get Out of Jail Free card, and he just hangs around?  Paul, you don’t even need to understand Monopoly to grasp the concept of the Get Out of Jail Free card.  Come on buddy!

BoltIt seems to me that any normal person would take advantage of the situation immediately and get their butt outta there pronto.  I mean, I hate to run, and have yet to find even adequate motivation to start jogging, but I promise you if I were Paul, I would channel the whitest Usain Bolt I could find inside of me and leave that place in the dust, setting some serious Caucasian speed records along the way.  I would do that because I’m normal and my brain works.  But Paul isn’t normal (though I admit his brain does work).  Paul apparently doesn’t feel the need to free himself, he just kind of goes with the flow.  And in this case, the flow has the jailer take Paul and other prisoners home, take care of their wounds, feed them and then become a Christian along with his entire family.

What!?  What jail guard takes prisoners home!?  None.  Because that’s totally crazy.  (Though I think this happens in The Green Mile?  I’m not sure.  I’ve never seen it.  Regardless, if it did happen in The Green Mile, it’s still an extraordinary event, Walkerwhich is probably why it was such a powerful and memorable scene.  That or there was some cool special effects or something.)

Anyway…not only could the jail guard get fired, but this is a Roman jail…and from my education of Romans through movies and bad Sunday school videos, they would feed the jailer to lions or something if he got caught.  I mean, the guy would have some kind of violent Gladiator death for sure. Yet this jailer saw something so completely different in Paul than he’d ever seen in anyone that he risked his own life to learn more about it.  That’s nuts.  That is seriously nuts.

Christians Are The New Vampires

What You’ve Missed…
* Jesus walks on water, which is pretty impressive.  Though not as impressive as walkin’ on sunshine.
* Jesus creates the world’s first free and instant buffet when He feeds thousands of hungry people, using only a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish, and everyone eats as much as they want.  Twice.  I think it’s official.  Jesus loves buffets.

Day 283
Daily Reading: John 6, Mark 7, Matthew 15

I’m going to just jump right in and talk about zombies and vampires.  They’re everywhere these days.  Zombies have taken over the world of fiction, and even local news stories in Florida, and vampires have taken over the romantic dreams of teenage girls everywhere.  (Vampires that are ridiculously handsome AND they sparkle?  It’s like Brad Pitt and My Little Pony had a baby, and now we all have to suffer the unending squeals of teen girls everywhere.)

But this is nothing new.  The idea of zombies and vampires can be traced all the way back to the Bible.  In fact, Jesus himself talks about both.

Check out what He says.

“I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man (Jesus) and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you.  But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life…For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”  John 6:53-55

Whaaaaaat?  Correct me if I’m wrong, but what I get from this is Jesus tells people they have to eat His flesh and drink His blood to gain eternal life.  Did I miss something because that sounds all kinds of jacked up.  Eating flesh?  Drinking blood?  That sounds…really weird, really creepy and…cultish.

Jesus, dude, couldn’t you have just stuck with, “Love your neighbor,” or “Peace in the Middle East,” or even a little bit of Bill and Ted wisdom like, “Be excellent to each other?”  Why do you have to freak people out, talking about how your followers have to eat your body, and drink your blood?  No one wants to hear that.

In fact, after He said this, a lot of His followers turned away.  Probably because they weren’t interested in eating other people.  This isn’t the Jesus I heard about in Sunday school.  I heard about “nice Jesus”, not “B Horror movie Jesus.”

Speaking of which, many of you reading may be Christians and might not find this weird, because you believe in the act of communion, which is how Christians take part in eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood today.  It may seem like no big deal.  I think that’s because we’ve heard it so much, it no longer has any impact on us.

But think about it.  The central figure in your spiritual beliefs, the one you base your lifestyle on, told people they would have to eat His body and drink His blood in order to gain eternal life.  Do you actually believe that?  If there was a cult that drank the blood of their leader, would you think that was normal?  Or would you think they were totally whacked out?

Well I have news for you.  That’s exactly what we’re doing as Christians.  We’re drinking the blood of our leader, to gain eternal life.  That’s the whole myth behind vampires!  (It’s just a shame we don’t get super-speed and super-strength as by-products.  We also don’t become overly dramatic horrible actors either, so that’s pretty good.)

And don’t forget, we also have stuff in common with flesh-eating zombies.  Though, we may not be mindless, I know of a few Christians who drool as much as any good zombie would.

So what’s my point?  I think we, as Christians, need to have some perspective of why non-Christians think we might be a little weird.  I think we need to be mindful that when we use expressions like, “The blood of the Lamb,” or “Our sins have been covered by the blood of Jesus,” people may be totally weirded out.  (Wow, we really do talk about blood a lot don’t we?  Yeah…that’s NOT totally creepy at all.)

Okay, okay…so it’s not really that intense.   Christians don’t actually drink blood.  We drink wine (or grape juice) as a symbol of Jesus’ blood.  And we don’t actually eat flesh, but rather bread (or fancy Catholic wafers) as a symbol for flesh.  But still…when you really think about it, it’s pretty crazy that we do it at all.

Geez, after all this eating, drinking and horror movie talk, I’m ready for some Jimmy Johns and a Walking Dead Marathon.

Christianity is awesome.

Was Jesus a Klingon?

What You’ve Missed…
*
Jesus gets baptized, gets disciples, and gets the whole Christian party under way (though, no booze of course.)
* Jesus changes up that whole “no booze” idea when he kicks a local party into overdrive, turning water into wine, providing free drinks, and a good time (probably too good of a time) for everyone!
* Jesus shows He doesn’t just party, and gets down to business healing tons of sick people, casting out tons of demons and raising people from the dead.  No big deal.
* Local Jewish scholars start to get pissed at how awesome people think Jesus is, and decide the most rational course of action is to plan how to kill Him.

Day 281
Daily Reading: Matthew 9-10, Mark 6

Making my way through the New Testament, which I am more familiar with than the Old Testament, I continue to find myself surprised at how crazy a lot of it is. For instance…I always thought of Jesus as a “nice guy”.  I thought of Him as calm, rational, and someone who taught about good morals and helped people.  He probably spent time playing with abandoned puppies and gave candy to children, always making sure to remind them to brush their teeth.  Sounds like a nice guy right?

Well, I’m not so sure.  At one point while He’s preparing the disciples to go out and preach, He says some pretty funky stuff for a nice guy.

“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine.”  Matthew 10:37

And right before that, He makes it pretty clear that He’s not here to be a nice guy.

“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth!  I came not to bring peace, but a sword.  ‘I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.  Your enemies will be right in your own household.”  Matthew 10:35-36

Dang.  Jesus don’t play!  He’s making it pretty clear that He considers a relationship with Him far more important than any other relationship a person can have.  When combined with the fact that He said He came to bring a sword, that sweet little nice guy image doesn’t hold up.  He’s more like Conan the Barbarian who’s shown up to get shit done.

Jesus isn’t simply trying to sound like a tough guy here.  The man lives by His own philosophy.  Later in Matthew, Jesus puts some of this crazy thinking into practice.

“As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, His mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him.  Someone told Jesus, ‘Your mother and brothers are outside, and they want to speak to you.’  Jesus asked, ‘Who is my mother?  Who are my brothers?’  Then he pointed to His disciples and said, ‘These are my mother and brothers.  Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!’”  Matthew 12:46-50

Dude…Jesus is rude!  Can you imagine if George W. Bush was speaking to a crowd, and someone came up, telling him that Sweet Barbara and Ol’ George Sr., want to talk to him, and he responded by saying, “I don’t know them.  I’m the Decider and I’ve decided the people listening to me are my only family.”  The media would flip out.  His parents would flip out.  That’d be a really horrible way to treat his family.  And that’s exactly what Jesus does here!  His mission is more important to Him than His own mother.

That is not how a nice guy acts.  Nice guys love their moms.  (Some of them even live with their moms.)  Nice guys give their families backstage passes and VIP treatment.  Not Jesus.  Dude gives his family the cold shoulder without a second thought.

I’m starting to think Jesus might have more in common with Klingons than Mother Theresa.

God Pooped

What You’ve Missed…
* The Israelites encounter close to 400 years of radio silence from God when it seems He stops speaking to His people. We can’t go 5 minutes without checking our phones to know what’s going on. They went 400 years. Great, now I just feel pathetic.
* The Old Testament is old news. We’ve rounded the bend and now find ourselves in the New Testament.
* John the Baptist invents baptism, lives like a sketchy homeless dude in the woods, eats weird hippie food, wears weird hippie clothes, and tells people to prepare for the coming of God. Basically he was like the weirdest dude ever.

Day 267
Daily Readings: Mark 1, Luke 1 and 3, John 1, Matthew 1

I remember back when I took Latin in 6th grade, and I heard the myths of the Greek gods and how they would come down to Earth, interact with people, then go back to Mount Olympus. I remember wondering if the Greeks actually believed that stuff, and if they did, wondering how anyone could be so dumb. (Though they were on to something with those togas. They basically walked around in Snuggies. I think it’s worth it to revisit that idea.)

But those Greek legends are just made up stories. Everyone knows they aren’t real. No one actually thinks all-powerful gods, who created everything, come down from their heavenly thrones disguised as people to walk among us. No one who saw Thor thinks it’s real. (Mostly because that guy is waaaay to pretty to be as tough as he is.)

However, the New Testament starts out with this exact premise. God came down from His heavenly throne, in the form of a man, to walk among his own creation. Think about that for a second. If you’re a Christian, it means you might have more in common with the mythology of the ancient Greeks than modern science. It means the idea that the Greeks might have been crazy for believing what they did applies to you and me as well.

“In the beginning, the Word (Jesus) already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him…So the Word became human and made his home among us.” John 1:1-14

So what happens next? An angel visits Mary saying,

“You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus…The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:29-35

Long story short, Jesus is born. (And if you’re looking for a totally awesome, action-adventure blockbuster version of the story not found in the Bible, check out Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith. He’s the dude who wrote Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and clearly someone I need to be friends with.) So Jesus is born. So God becomes human. So what?

Let’s just stop and think about what this means for a minute. For one thing, it means God pooped. A lot. That’s crazy. It also means he cried as a kid. God cried. It means He had to do chores when He didn’t want to growing up. It also means He was vulnerable to disease, to physical pain and injury and to death. Think about the risk He took in living in such a volatile and dangerous world.

I’m not here to debate the whole virgin birth thing, or to discus whether Jesus was God or a prophet, or neither. I believe He was God. I’m interested in exploring the idea of what that looked like, what it says about the character of a God who behaves in such a way as to intentionally make Himself vulnerable. To lower himself, even to the point of having to live under the restrictions of a human body. It’s crazy.

I can only wonder if God had to learn to share, a value He Himself created. I wonder if He was ever interested in girls. I wonder if He ever had His feelings hurt. I wonder if He loved stories, staying up late, and sneaking out of the house at night. I wonder if He loved playing with fire, and if when He realized that He created fire, He thought, “Dude I’m glad I invented this. Fire is awesome!” (Because it is. I don’t understand how people aren’t pyromaniacs.)

God as man opens up so many ideas. God was hungry. God was tired. God was happy, sad, confused. And the craziest one, God learned from people. Let me repeat that. God. Learned. From. People. That thought alone blows my mind. I’m just glad I wasn’t Jesus’ dad, because I would have taught God to pick His nose, take lots of naps and to make Taco Bell a central part of His diet.

Dirty Hippies

What You’ve Missed…
* God tells Israel things are going to get better.
* God tells Egypt things are going to get worse.
* God tells the country of Gog they’re basically dead already.
* Oh, and pages and pages listing Jewish ancestors for hundreds of years.  Apparently the Israelites were science fiction nerds because they gave their kids weird alien names like Uzzi, Zadok and Bukki.

Day 246
Daily Reading: 1 Chronicles 8-9, Daniel 4, Ezekiel 40

We’re going to keep it pretty short and sweet today.  So, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has a crazy dream and then has Daniel interpret it for him.  Here’s what Daniel tells him:

“This is what the dream means…You will be driven from human society, and you will live in the fields with the wild animals.  You will eat grass like a cow, and you will be drenched with the dew of heaven.  Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses….but you will receive your kingdom back again when you learn that heaven rules.” (Daniel 4:24-26)

Bummer.  The worst part though is it came true.

“Twelve months later he was taking a walk…as he looked across the city he said, ‘Look at this great city of Babylon!  By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.’ … That same hour the judgment was fulfilled, and Nebuchadnezzar was driven from human society.  He ate grass like a cow and was drenched with the dew of heaven.  He lived this way until his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers and his nails were like birds’ claws.” (Daniel 4:29-33)

Later he admits God is the ultimate ruler, his sanity returns and he is restored as the head of his kingdom, with even greater honor than before.

Okay….just, hold up a minute here Bible. You’re telling me that the most powerful king in the land spends what could be months or years living like a Bonnaroo hippie, getting all cuddly and weird with nature, acting like a wild animal, and that he’s probably gone completely insane…and then he just goes back to being an awesome king who everyone loves even more than before?  I mean, I know people love a leader that can party (who wouldn’t want to cruise for chicks with President Clinton?) but this seems a bit much.

I can’t picture Obama being chased out of the Oval Office, and going on to spend the next few years following some jam band around the country, living out of a tent, growing some dreads and chewing some “grass”, only to return to the White House as President, with the full confidence of the nation behind him.  That’s ridiculous.  Fox News would never shut up about it, probably saying a real American would never even think of acting like that.

(Sure this sounds a lot like Bob Marley now that I think about it.  But Marley was always that way.  And he was cool.  And he’s ruining my analogy so I’m moving on.)

Would you want to follow a guy who completely lost his mind, lived like the dirtiest, homeless redneck ever, and then became president?  Would you believe that’s the guy God would put in charge of an incredibly powerfully nation?  Is it just me, or does that seem incredibly ridiculous to anyone else?  Because that’s what happened.

*Author’s note: My apologies to Bonnaroo fans.  I don’t think you’re all dirty hippies.  Just most of you.

God Calls It Quits

What You’ve Missed…
* Jeremiah cries over Israel’s disobedience.
* God tells Jeremiah to take off his underwear, and after reading about God telling Isaiah to do the same, I’m starting to think Magic Mike might be the holiest movie in theaters right now.
* Jeremiah cries some more.
* God forbids Jeremiah to marry.
* Jeremiah continues to cry, breaking women’s hearts everywhere, who will never receive a rose from the world’s most sensitive bachelor. (Author’s note: No actual, historical evidence has been found to support the idea of Jeremiah being a heartbreaker. But we’ll keep looking…)

Day 225
Daily Reading: Jeremiah 31, 49-51

What I didn’t include in the re-cap above are the following verses God spoke through Jeremiah:

“I have abandoned my people, my special possession. I have surrendered my dearest ones to their enemies.”  (Jeremiah 12:7)

“So this is what the LORD said to his people: ‘You love to wander from me and do not restrain yourselves.  Therefore, I will no longer accept you as my people…’”  (Jeremiah 14:10)

“‘You have abandoned me and turned your back on me,’ says the LORD.  ‘Therefore, I will raise my fist to destroy you.  I am tired of always giving you another chance…I will destroy my own people, because they refuse to change their evil ways.  There will be more widows than the grains of sand on the seashore.”  (Jeremiah 15:6-8)

Basically it’s the end of the line for the Hebrews.  They ain’t ridin’ on friendly, little Thomas the Tank Engine that’s for sure.  “Minding the Gap” isn’t going to do anything for anyone at this point because Israel is cruising full speed on a Japanese bullet train.  A bullet train to hell.

Okay, maybe that’s somewhat of an exaggeration (not to mention an awesome horror movie tagline, which I would like to copyright and sell to any interested parties).  However, God does seem to truly be at the end of his rope here, ready to call it quits.  Ready to not simply abandon His people, but fully destroy them.  That’s some intense talk.

What confused me though was noticing I still had quite a bit of the Old Testament remaining in my Bible.  How could this be the end of the Jews if there were still hundreds of pages to read?

Turns out, God STILL shows some compassion.

“‘I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.  With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.”  (Jeremiah 31:3)

“‘Is not Israel still my son, my darling child?’ says the LORD. ‘I often have to punish him, but I still love him.  That’s why I long for him and surely will have mercy on him.”  (Jeremiah 31:20)

WHAT!?  God, you JUST said you were going to destroy them, because you were tired of giving second chances.  Your words, not mine.  What’s the deal?  It seems like you’re changing your mind quicker than Lady Gaga changes, well, everything.   I don’t mean to be rude, but God, it seems like you’re going back on your word quicker than a Kardashian reneging on their wedding vows.  What’s the deal here?

If you’re wondering whether God spoke back to me, He didn’t.  (And if you’re wondering if He smote me for such blasphemous questioning, He didn’t do that either.  Surprised?  Yeah, me too.)

It’s here I’m left scratching my butt, trying to figure out how God works.  Yes Jeremiah goes on to explain God heard Israel crying out with an apology for turning away, repenting, and asking to be reunited with Him again, (Jeremiah 31:18-19) but still, God said no more second chances.  Yet, God relents, and not only has mercy on His people, but goes so far to say He will bless them, bringing them happiness, joy and rest.

I’m about as confused here as I was the first time I tried to French kiss Jeni Herring in seventh grade.  At the end of it all (which was probably about three seconds honestly), I just stood there, feeling really awkward, not having the slightest clue what to do or say.  Unlike God, it was soon thereafter when Jeni decided that she preferred actual kissing to being slobbered on by an over eager nerd, and called it quits for us.

But I know God hasn’t left me.  (Then again, he hasn’t been on the receiving end of my “particularly salivary” make-out style.)  And that’s the point.  He didn’t turn his back on Israel either.  Even when He said He would.  He says no more second chances, and then gives them another chance!  He says it’s over for good, and then decides to stick it out.  What am I supposed to do with that?  It’s honestly incredibly frustrating.

I mean, I guess it comes down to the fact God just does what He wants?  Maybe.  Or that His bottom line is the whole “everlasting love” deal He mentions?  Maybe.  Or that He is more like a parent than we realize, and even though He’s at His wit’s end (can an infinite being have a wit’s end?) with his kids’ behavior, He still finds himself charmed by them, being overwhelmed by how much He loves them, to the point that He changes His mind?  Maybe.

Maybe it’s all of that.  Maybe it’s none of it.  Who knows?  (No, really, tell me if you do.  I’d like to know.)  Or maybe it’s like my ability to French kiss and I’ll just never get it.

Isaiah was a Stripper

What You’ve Missed…
* Not much really.
* Some Psalms that are pretty good.
* I saw Prometheus.
* That was pretty good too.

Day 197
Daily Reading: Isaiah 18-23

I’d like to start this post by proposing a question to any Christians who are reading this. (Well, clearly I wanted to start this post by telling you I wanted to ask a question, but let’s not get picky.) If God told you to just live your normal life today, but to do it totally naked, would you?

“Oh God wouldn’t ask us to do that,” you might say. Oh really? Have you read Isaiah? “Oh, Isaiah didn’t walk around naked,” you might say. Oh really? Have you read Isaiah chapter 20?

“In the year when King Sargon of Assyria sent his commander in chief to capture the Philistine city of Ashdod, the LORD told Isaiah son of Amoz, ‘Take off the burlap you have been wearing, and remove your sandals.’ Isaiah did as he was told and walked around naked and barefoot.” (Isaiah 20:1-2)

“Oh, he was probably just in his house or something. That’s no big deal,” you might say. Oh really? Have you read verse 3?

“Then the LORD said, ‘My servant Isaiah has been walking around naked and barefoot for the last three years. This is a sign – a symbol of the terrible troubles I will bring upon Egypt and Ethiopia.’” (Isaiah 20:3)

Yeah. That’s right. The dude lived totally naked for three years. Even a good streaker wears a solid pair of running shoes. But not Isaiah. He rocked the birthday suit, in its fullness, from top to bottom, day in and day out, for THREE YEARS.

I was talking to a friend about this, and they suggested the idea that times were different back then, with different cultural norms, and that Isaiah putting the family jewels on full public display wasn’t a big deal. But I beg to differ.

I think there are a few common threads uniting mankind through the ages, despite vast cultural differences, and one of those threads is actually the lack of threads. I’m pretty sure straight-up public nudity has always been discouraged for as long as people have lived in community. No one wants to see their butcher naked.

Which got me thinking. How the heck did Isaiah respond? It’s mentioned so casually in the Bible. Heck, it skips three years between two sentences. But think about it. Isaiah was a regular guy. A prophet and powerful man of God sure, but still, he’s human. Just like you and me. I have to wonder how he reacted.

I imagine him saying something like, “Uh, God, I can’t just be naked. I mean, what will people think? Also, I don’t really want to be naked. And, uh, isn’t being naked bad? Like, don’t you endorse purity and honoring the body and stuff? And uh, you also realize that if I’m naked, a bunch of ladies and kids are going to see my dong right? That can’t be good. Won’t I end up in jail? Won’t I end up in jail totally naked? That really can’t be good. And did I mention that women and children will see my dong?”

But apparently he went through with it. He just started living his life in the buff. Not in a nudist colony with a bunch of old fat guys who don’t give a rip anymore, but right out in the open, for all the world to see. And I imagine he continued his work, which was delivering the Word of God, which I imagine was kind of like street preaching.So now I’m picturing some crazy dude on a street corner, warning everyone about the coming judgment of the LORD, with his kosher sausage in full view.

I’m already horribly judgmental towards street preachers. If I saw someone preaching fire and brimstone on the street, and they were naked, I would think they were flat out crazy. I’m already not trusting what they say, and the fact that they don’t seem to be bothered that their twenty-first digit is swaying in the breeze only compounds that fact.

I have to believe it was the same for Isaiah. I have to believe people thought the guy was insane. That he needed help. Lots of help. I imagine people wrote him off as the local nut who thinks he hears from God, dismissing everything he said because they thought he was a deranged lunatic who dove off the deep end, leaving his sanity, and shorts, far, far behind.

So of course Israel doesn’t listen to his warnings. Would you? I know I wouldn’t have. Which has me thinking again. What if the crazy street preachers I judge are actually hearing from God? What if they’re just as reluctant as Isaiah might have been, but go out any way, knowing they’re going to be verbally crapped on, repeatedly, by almost everyone? What if I’m the idiot, not them?

Another thought: What if it wasn’t a crazy stranger on the corner, telling everyone they’re going to hell, that God asked to get naked? What if it was someone you knew and trusted? What if it was your pastor, or best friend? Or your dad. What if they started living naked because they said God told them to? (I promise I’m not trying to get anyone to think about the people they know naked. I’m just trying to make a point, and that point involves tons of nudity.)

Another, different thought: What if it wasn’t someone you knew who was making their “private” business very public? What if God asked you to do it?

Isaiah letting it all hang out takes the idea of being a person of faith to a whole new level. If you think about it, Isaiah really goes for it here. The guy risks his entire reputation big-time, throwing caution, and his undies, to the wind.

Crazy stuff.