Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen a plethora of announcements about the employment of fellow clergy in new positions. Without fail, the photo is always of a smiling minister. Underneath, there is inevitably a list of credentials and an overzealous statement about institutional growth. Earlier this week, two announcements garnered my attention. After reading through the bullshit a few times, I wondered aloud, “Do they know what they’re getting into?” Deciding to let the question ruminate, I continued on about my day. In time, I realized I already knew the answer. Of course they know what they’re getting into…a nice salary, expense accounts, insurance, retirement plans and on and on. Who wouldn’t want to get into that? The call of Jesus is to come and die. The call of modern ministry is to come and live…and live well. God is elsewhere.
Deeply moved by his story, I’ll never forget his face. MJ Sharpe was first and foremost a lover of God. Love is what propelled him to give his life to others. Seeking global transformations, Sharp took a job with the United Nations. Educated and trained in nonviolence, Sharp was working to diffuse various conflicts in the Congo. In the midst of his efforts, Sharp was kidnapped. Though many prayed for his safe return, Sharp’s body was found a few days ago. I believe that Sharp’s influence on our world will never die. In the next life, I hope that Sharp haunts our professionalized ministers. As clergy take their glamour shots and accept their safe positions, I hope they’re unable to get the images of Sharp and the many other great martyrs of the church out of their heads. For the survival of the church, I hope they’re never comfortable and always remember…you can’t follow Jesus and live like the people who killed him.