When we make the armor of God about protecting ourselves, and our own minds, we begin to see the world in black and white, we begin to see the world in right and wrong, and we look for justifications to make sure that we are always “in the right.” And when we do that, we surround ourselves with people and with information that feeds upon those self-justifications. This then turns into an Us vs. Them mentality, and when we claim Christ as our mascot, our whole worldview turns into the idea of the Christ who agrees with us as Christ against Culture instead of Christ with Us, or Christ among us.
And they took offence at him. His very presence in the synagogue, “pretending” to be a spiritual leader, incited their wrath, and they were scandalized by his presence there as one who would presume to teach them.
They knew him from when he was but a boy, and here he was taking on more authority than he ought to, more than he was allowed to, given his history, given what they knew about him.
And the result, Mark says, is that he did not do many works of power there. Instead, Jesus marveled at their disbelief.
The paralyzed man stood up, picked up his bed, and walked away. And all those present were filled with awe and amazement, and they said, “We have seen strange things today.” After having been told that the people were filled with amazement and awe, and were glorifying God, these people then said what amounts to, “Yup. That was weird.”
What’s interesting here, is the word that Paul uses here to describe the Gentiles is ethnos (pl. ethne), meaning “a race, a nation” and implying any nation other than Israel. It is also the word from which we get the English word Ethnic. Generally, this word, in current usage, tends not to refer to other nations. Instead, it takes on the meaning more closely related to it’s original implied meaning of “anything other than Israel,” with the new implication being that anyone who is ethnic is not like us. It is usually uttered by those who are trying to make the distinction between themselves and others, often with the intention of separating themselves from those others; in short, it often has racist overtones, even among those who would call themselves believers. It would be more akin to Peter’s attempt to remove himself from the gentiles in Galatians 2:11-24, and less like Paul’s reminder that all are welcome in the family of God, if only they believe.
Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom, the one who carries the double-edged sword that kills or gives life, asks a monk to bring him something out in the world that is not medicine. The monk searches far and wide, and finally returns, saying that there is nothing out there that is not medicine. To which the master says, “then bring me something that is medicine.” The monk then reaches down and plucks a blade of grass.
The master turns to the monk and says, “This medicine can kill people and it can also bring them to life.”
People love to hear sermons about how God loves them. People love to hear sermons about how those who love God are blessed. People love to hear about how God’s love covers over their multitude of sins. People love hearing sermons about love as long as that love relates to them. But people hate to hear sermons that demand that they follow through on loving their neighbor, because others can just be so difficult to love sometimes.
They’ve seen this movie before, and so some of them are thinking, “Great! Jesus is here, he’ll calm the storm and all will be well.”
But Jesus doesn’t calm the storm.
He’s just standing there, telling them not to be afraid, in the midst of all this raging chaos.
The trouble with this viewpoint is that it seeks to benefit from faith without putting any work into it. It looks for safety, it looks for rescue and the salvation from eternal damnation, rather than a relationship with God. It is purely practical.
Today’s Daily Office Readings – Gospel ( Matt. 16:21-28 ) “Get behind me Satan!” Peter doesn’t want Jesus to die, as is natural for someone who has become your teacher, friend andRead More…
Daily Office Readings – New Testament ( 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 ) Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfitRead More…