Agendas. Gods or Yours

March 17, 2019

Summary

Agenda. Agenda is a common word in modern day English, and I am supposing that most languages have an equivalent word that is also widely used in this 21st century.

Perhaps the first question to be asked is, “What is an agenda?”

One definition that I looked up defined ‘agenda’ as: a list, plan, outline, of things to be done, matters to be acted or voted upon, etc.

I want to hone in on the phrase; ‘a plan of things to be done.” as the best definition of agenda for us today.

Agenda, as we can see from the definition, is a word that formerly was primarily used in a work setting, for meetings and daily duties, but it has grown beyond that.  I hear people use it often in questions and phrases that have nothing to do with work situations, such as while on vacation they ask their spouse, “What’s on the agenda for today, the beach or shopping?”

Or on a day off, people have said to me, “My agenda for today is to do nothing.  I want to relax, eat a good meal, and finish my book.”

I have also heard individuals share about their approach to the their spiritual life with words like, “My daily agenda is to spend thirty minutes in prayer, and scripture reading each morning, and to do one, ‘random act of kindness’ during my day, and then to close my day with a further thirty minutes of prayer.”

As we can see, and understand from our own pondering upon this subject, not only the word, but the idea of having an agenda for most parts of our lives, has become pervasive.  Meaning, agendas seem to be everywhere, and can be attached to most anything we do in life.  In other words we seem to have a plan for most anything, and everything.

Of course, though the word, ‘agenda’ is comparatively modern, first finding usage in its modern sense at the beginning of the 17th century, having plans is an idea as old as humanity.

In today’s gospel scripture we encounter two different agendas, or plans, that run counter to one another.  One agenda is King Herod’s, and the other is Jesus’.

Herod’s agenda is simple, ‘Kill Jesus.’  Jesus has become too much of a challenge to Herod and his cozy relationship with the Roman Empire is being threatened by Jesus and his growing popularity with the people, and even a portion of the Jewish religious leadership, including Nicodemus and some Pharisees, like those who come to Jesus, in today’s verses, to warn him of what they have heard.  Herod is out for Jesus’ blood.  In order to survive he has to run, Jesus has to get out of Herod’s territory.

Yet Jesus has another agenda, one that is bigger than Herod’s, way bigger.  In fact, eventually Jesus will use Herod’s agenda to achieve his own.  But not yet, Jesus still has work to do, he is not going to run.

I love when Jesus says, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and preforming  cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my work.  Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for  a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’”

Do you hear what Jesus has just done there?  Yep, he has just announced his agenda.  Jesus doesn’t care what Herod’s agenda is, or what he might be planning.  As we know, Jesus has his own plans, his own work, his own agenda to carry out.  Herod’s aims only matter for as much as they fit within Jesus’ plans, as much as they carry out part of Jesus’ agenda.

You see, Herod was worrying about Jesus as an earthly threat, but Jesus’ concerns were not limited to Herod’s territory, or his place in time, for Jesus was concerned with not simply the people whom he was curing and teaching to at that moment, but he was worrying about you too, and me.

When Jesus uses the illustration of himself as the big mothering hen protecting her chicks beneath her wings he was speaking of you beneath his wings too, for even then, you were a part of his agenda.

Isn’t that crazy, almost beyond belief that you and me played a part in God’s agenda over two-thousand years ago?  It’s true, for God’s agenda is sweeping and all encompassing; it refutes some agendas, co-opts others, like Herod’s, and subsumes more, including hopefully mine.

What do I mean?

Well, let’s take Herod’s agenda of killing Jesus, as an example.  His agenda would seem to run against Jesus’ agenda.  So, the Pharisees who came to warn Jesus were hoping to refute, or deny Herod his agenda by warning Jesus to leave.  Yet, what does Jesus do with their warning, he seems to ‘thumb his nose’ at Herod and his threat and just continue on with ‘business as usual.’  Right?

Well, not exactly, you see Jesus knows that he needs to Herod’s agenda, which is very similar to the agenda of the High Priests and many of the Pharisees, which again is to kill Jesus, so that his own agenda, Jesus’ agenda can be fulfilled.  Jesus’ agenda also includes his death, doesn’t it?  We hear in his own words that Jesus is going to Jerusalem to die.  We know that Jesus is killed by the Romans, at the behest of Herod, and the High Priests, but that is only because Jesus co-opts their agendas to further his own.  Jesus conquers sin and death, only in his own death, and then resurrection to new life.

As with all scripture, after understanding it to the best of our abilities, we need to ask ourselves, “What might it mean for us today?”

Might we ask ourselves, “What agendas do we have?  What agendas are we trying make succeed?  What is our over-all agenda?  What is our grand agenda for life?”

As we are thinking about those questions, and trying to answer them, then we need to insert into our questioning, the most important question.  “Does my agenda have anything to do with God’s agenda?”

I am not simply speaking of, does your agenda include Jesus, because most of us sitting here include belief in Jesus within our agendas, otherwise we wouldn’t be sitting here.  For example, believing in Jesus and then doing what you want to do, is not being a part of God’s agenda.  Or worse, claiming Jesus as part of your agenda, when your agenda is simply your own, well that becomes destructive to God’s kingdom.  Many people have done this, and still do it today.

For instance, kings, queens, prime ministers and presidents, as well other ministers, senators and government leaders have claimed, or do claim that they are doing God’s will. They claim to be a part of God’s agenda, to further their own aims, to get people to blindly follow them, or to try and cloak their earthly desires with God’s permission.  The sad thing is, too many people believe them, and follow, because their earthly agenda might fit as well.

A big give-away in this regard whether an agenda has anything to do with God’s agenda is to ask, who gains what, if that agenda is carried out?

If money is being made, and earthly power is being consolidated, and people are being hurt in the carrying out of, or because of the agenda, then it is probably not a part of God’s agenda.  Another way to ask that question is, “Can you imagine Jesus, dressed in his robes and wearing his sandals, followed by his disciples, leading the campaign for the agenda in question?  Can you imagine Jesus standing on a hill preaching to the people in favor of the agenda?”

If you can’t, then it’s probably an earthly one.  And no, you cannot say, “But Jesus didn’t understand at the time about technology and today’s situation.  He would stand with me today, ‘cause it’s important to protect my wealth…or, my power…or, my rights, over that persons.”

That does not work because Jesus’ teachings, God’s agenda as laid out by Jesus, transcend time, technology, earthly desires, and what you might want, or how you might want things to go, or what I desire, or what your neighbor wants for themselves.

God’s agenda, is the agenda.  “Love the Lord your God, with all your heart and with all your strength and, with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Get with the agenda.  It’s the only one!

Amen.

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