Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I guess its not all sunshine and roses, huh?

Here we are at day two of our little walk through the Bible and does anyone else think maybe we picked a bad week to start?  I mean, seriously, Job is asking for God to answer his prayer and 'crush him' the Psalms weren't exactly cheery and the Gospel reading begins with the disciples complaining about a 'hard teaching' that no one can understand.
If you don't know what I am talking about or just need a good place to read, listen to or download the lectionary, as always, check here: http://gamc.pcusa.org/ministries/devotions/
I don't want to forget to mention the highlight of the readings today - that's right, we have a Dorcas sighting.  Hands down best name in the Bible, right?  Apparently she went by Tabitha - as Dorcas is the Greek translation of the name, but still . . . Dorcas is pretty awesome.  And to top all of that off, she dies . . . and Peter, through the power of the Holy Spirit brings her back to life.  Good times, people.  Good times.
But interestingly enough, it isn't the resurrection of Tabitha that struck me in todays readings.  Rather it was the opening line of the passage from John: 60When many of his disciples heard it, they said, "This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?"
So, to give background the 'hard teaching' is that Jesus, after feeding the five thousand and walking on water - this is a busy chapter! - has told them that the only way to eternal life is through the body and blood of Jesus Christ.  If you are like me you might be thinking something like, 'Duh, its called communion.  Get with it people.'  But to be fair, we know the whole story and the disciples were living it and we also know that they were still expecting a different kind of messiah, king and kingdom than what Jesus was and what Jesus ushered in.  
Not to mention they were living in a time where human sacrifice - while very uncommon - was not unheard of.  Was this what he was telling them?  Well, the short answer is, of course not.  And hopefully, we all know what he meant, but just in case, it goes something like this: Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father (God) except through him.  
What is more interesting to me is the audacity of the disciples and how clearly we have inherited that same audacity.  The disciples say to Jesus (you know God incarnate!) 'this is tough, no body can do this, and they say this 10 seconds after Jesus is done speaking.  It's not like this came at the end of days, weeks or years of trying to live into what was being asked.  
Nope,  they heard what Jesus said and quickly realized that it was just too tough for them.  Those terrible, ungrateful disciples.  I mean, can you imagine saying no to God?  or telling God that you know better than he does?  or telling God that what is being asked of us is just too tough or hard?
Oh, right.  We do that all the time.  And though it is easy to pick on the disciples because they had the privilege of walking and talking with Jesus, they also (as I mentioned) were living the story in real time.  We know how the story goes.  We know that Jesus is in fact the son of God, the Word of God incarnate and our savior and Lord.  We know all of that and yet we still tell God no everyday.  We know all of that and we still respond to God's call with, 'Sorry, its just too hard or too inconvenient or  too time consuming.'
I think the root of the issue is in what we believe about who Jesus really is, and I said it a few lines ago.  Simply, do we really believe that Jesus Christ is Lord of Us?  I think that is the question that each of us has to ask and answer for ourselves, because if the answer to that question is yes, than we are giving up the prerogative to say no.  That just isn't how the relationship with a 'Lord' goes.  
Most of us don't know our history and have no real world connection to a 'Lord' in our everyday lives, so maybe we need to come up with a new word . . . or learn our history, but I digress (I was a history major after all).  The subject doesn't have the option of telling his or her Lord no, that is what it means to submit to someone's lordship - to submit.  In history, like in the feudal system it worked like this: serfs or peasants submitted to the Lord and were to serve in whatever capacity the Lord required (usually farming the land) and in return the Lord provided for all of the needs of the people, protected them and cared for them.  Now when we put humans in the position of Lord, things tend to go wrong quickly.  
But this is exactly what we do with God, the one deserving of Lordship.  When Jesus our Lord, who seeks to care for us, protect us, teach us and love us, calls us somewhere we don't want to go or asks of us something that might be difficult - we say no.  
And in saying no we try to make ourselves Lord.  Sadly we just aren't equipped for such a job and the results are often disastrous and always outside of God's good and perfect will for our lives.  
I have gone on long enough, but I know that I need to work on actually living my life like I believe that Jesus is the Lord of it.  I am guessing that you might too.  
More tomorrow.  Thanks for walking through this will me.


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