The Hokey Pokey Church

By B.J. Funk –

B.J. Funk

B.J. Funk

“You put your right foot in, you take your right foot out, you put your right foot in, and you shake it all about; you do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around; That’s what it’s all about!” 

The song  moves on, until each appendage has gone in and then out, and each has been shaken. Then, the head goes in and shakes. Next, each hip and the back. Each verse ends with “That’s what it’s all about!” Finally, your whole self jumps in, shakes and turns  around. The song ends as you clap your hands and shout,  “That’s what it’s all about!”

Welcome to the Hokey Pokey Church,  where you are invited to put all of  yourself into the circle of love, turn around, shake off old habits, walk away from sin and become a new person through Christ.

Every time you walk into church, you are given the  invitation to “put your whole self in!” Just putting in one foot or arm won’t do. Church calls you to participate in change by changing your whole self.   Church invites you to leave differently than you were when you walked in. The news is compelling: You do not have to stay the way you are now. You can be born again.

This good news started when Jesus came. The life-changing sound of the Hokey Pokey rang in the countryside through Jesus’ teaching. Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the ruling council, heard the melody and  wanted to check things out for himself. He was curious to find the end of the song and find what it’s all about. What could anyone tell him about the kingdom of God? He thought he knew everything.

His quest takes place after dark. It’s safer that way. The sound grows stronger  until Nicodemus finds outdoor church on a Jerusalem hillside and listens to these strange words of Jesus:  “I tell you the truth. No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Jesus is persuasive. Nicodemus is just about to put his right foot in and shake it all about, but he stops. “How can this be? Surely you don’t mean that I can enter a second time into my mother’s womb.”

Jesus  explains. “You must be born again. One only enters the kingdom of God through repentance and spiritual rebirth.”

Radical words! Nicodemus slips away from church, his heart pumping a new question as he runs home: born again? born again?  born again? He has to know more.

When alone, Nicodemus moves quickly but silently as he privately puts one foot in, then the other,  then his arms, then his head, flips around, puts his back, then his head into the circle and begins to “shake it all about” with this new found freedom. He stops just short of putting his whole self in, not ready to shake off all he has known and been.

In his book, Next Door Savior,  Max Lucado described Nicodemus as a religious blue blood. “What the justices are to the Supreme Court, he is to the Law of Moses. Expert. Credentials trail his name like a robe behind a king. Nicodemus, Ph.D., Th.D., M.S., M.Div. Universities want him on their board. Conferences want him on their platform. When it comes to religion, he’s loaded.”

Except, now, none of that matters as much. Soon, Jesus is murdered. Nicodemus steps up to join another believer in moving the body of Jesus for burial. By this time, he doesn’t care so much about his reputation. He only knows he has to finish the dance. To make sure he has been born again. To accept the radical challenge to enter the kingdom.

He walks out of the tomb, puts his complete self into the circle, shakes his whole body  free of religion and sin,  turns himself around, and finds life. He will never be the same again.

Church. Whether in a building, a home, or on a hillside, Church is the place where you can become new. Changed! Born again!

That’s what it’s all about.

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