Summary: When Jesus speaks to the church, as to ancient Jerusalem, he gives us agenda anxiety, for we fear that we are not going to get done what we want to do, since his agenda is far different.
The campaigns are over. So are the celebrations and the inaugural balls. The toasts, the handshakes, the good wishes are about to fade into memory. Today, for George Walker Bush, the work begins. Today, the list of things to do takes on shape. Today, the agenda becomes different. Yesterday he was a president-in-waiting, working on ideas, dreams, hopes, and expectations. Today he is the president, and reality is setting in. Yesterday he had plans; today he has a job to do. Yesterday he had proposals; today there is an agenda. And Mr. Bush will soon find out, if he does not already know, what agenda anxiety is.
Agenda anxiety is the fear that the things you want to see done are not going to get done. Agenda anxiety is the worry that all the things you are about are will be watered down, thrown out, and compromised. Agenda anxiety is the mess you have, when you are trying to move forward with a set of goals, and out there are a bunch of folks who seem bound and determined to sabotage everything you are working for. Agenda anxiety? Have you ever felt that? You don’t have to be the President of the United States to feel agenda anxiety.
I am involved in several groups and boards outside the church. I serve as either the president or the secretary of a couple of these groups, which means that either I am supposed to set the agenda or I am supposed to record the things we did to meet the agenda. Well, these groups give me agenda anxiety! In one group, which is all pastors, and that probably explains it, I find myself sort of shouting, “Wait for me, I’m your leader!”. I cannot pin them down to anything orderly. Everybody wants to talk at the same time, everybody has an opinion, everybody is ready to sound off! There are about a dozen people in this group, and that means there are about a dozen different opinions. Happily, they’re not all Baptists, or else there would be two dozen opinions! But it is nothing for us to come to the end of the meeting with very little settled. I get a bad case of agenda anxiety out of that group!
Have you had this experience? You’re in a meeting and they hand out a piece of paper that is supposed to be the agenda; but everybody goes off on their own? You feel agenda anxiety. You came to discuss issues and ideas, but the chairman just makes announcements, and when you try to talk about some concern, he dismisses you with a wave of the hand and the promise, “We’ll deal with that some other time.” You have agenda anxiety. You want to see some particular problem solved, but it just shows up week after week and month after month, and nobody gets down to doing anything about it. What you feel is agenda anxiety.
Agenda anxiety is what we feel when something is not moving forward as we think it ought to. Agenda anxiety is what I feel when I read last year’s Book of Reports, and see what I said I wanted to lead you to do – and then read this year’s Book of Reports, and see that some of the same stuff is here! Would you do me a favor? Would you promise to do something for me? When you get home with your Year 2000 report, would you first throw away your Year 1999 report, and promise never to look at it again! That might save both you and me from a serious case of agenda anxiety! We are short – far short – of what we ought to be and what we could be. Measured against what Christ wants for His church, Takoma Park Baptist Church is far short of the mark. That’s likely to give us agenda anxiety.
But then, the truth is, that wherever Jesus comes, people get agenda anxiety. Whenever Jesus acts, people find that He does not do what they expected Him to do, He is not what they thought He would be. And whenever Jesus speaks, folks get agenda anxiety, because He breaks the mold, He goes beyond their preconceived ideas, He is more than they can handle. Jesus has always given people agenda anxiety, and I pray that He will continue to do so. I pray that He will continue to challenge our comfort zones, that He will teach us more than we want to know. I pray that wherever Jesus comes, whenever Jesus acts and speaks, we will, like these folks in Jerusalem, end up saying, "Never has anyone spoken like this!" I pray that our easy, relaxed, soft churchmanship will always get agenda anxiety when Jesus is around.