Matthew 11:2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to (Jesus), “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” 4 Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. 6 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
This is an interesting exchange. John was put in prison, from which he would not emerge alive. I expect John was aware that his days were likely numbered. In any case, he was getting reports of Jesus doing things a man of God should not do: touching lepers, talking with prostitutes, eating with tax-collectors, plucking grain on the Sabbath, and so on. John was a “righteous” man meaning he was careful to observe the laws and statutes of Israel. Jesus was obviously not so careful, which caused John to doubt.
“Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”
In John’s mind, one could not be God’s chosen Messiah – and violate God’s statues and ordinances at the same time. It was a mind-bender. I appreciate the way Jesus replied, “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk…”. In other words, pay less attention to the methods and more on the results.
The church has been in a similar season for some time, only exacerbated by the pandemic. We’re increasingly being pushed to experiment with new methods (how) in order to fulfill our gospel mission. Things we never would have considered before. And while I recognize our reality, I’m not always happy about it. I like our old methods. They are familiar. I feel competent in those activities. New things invite incompetence, at least for a while. There are few things I hate more than feeling lost/incompetent. But it’s increasingly clear that our long-term future as a church will increasingly depend on our willingness to think differently, to embrace the unfamiliar.
Lord Jesus give us grace to follow you into the unknown for the sake of mission. Amen.