Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What if God were one of us?

Today we are back to the daily lectionary (which can be found here: http://gamc.pcusa.org/devotion/daily/2010/9/28/ ) After a few days off.  
In the lectionary today there are some great Psalms, and definitely some interesting readings from the Hebrew Scriptures (Hosea, anyone?)  and the New Testament.  But what really caught my attention was two things from the Gospel reading in Luke 5.  
The first is how Jesus took care of himself and responded to the pressures and situations he was in.  I think most of us get that we are supposed to be 'like' Christ or at least that we are supposed to try to be as much like Christ as possible.  But I think for many of us that it is hard to get at God's humanity in Christ and that leaves us pretty frustrated at just how far short we fall, not to mention that when we are thinking about Jesus as God, it makes trying to emulate him that much less tangible.   
I don't feel like I am being very clear, but what I am saying is that when we are striving to be like Christ we have to remember that we claim that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine.   We often forget about the human part when we think of Jesus - and it is that part that we can actually relate to, understand and more closely approximate.  
Why am I bringing all of this up right now?  Because in this passage we here about how everywhere Jesus went people followed him - came from all over just to watch and listen to him, actually.  Wherever Jesus went, people were watching him.  Wherever Jesus went people wanted and expected something - miraculous things - from him.
I think that is something most of us can relate to.  We may not have people following us around, per se, and we may not be well known, but I think most of us feel pressure to live up to what people expect from us.  And the truth is, most people in our lives do expect something from us: our teachers, our employers, our friends & family, all of them have expectations of us  and sometimes those expectations can weigh on us heavily.   And I think this is important to note - if we publicly claim that we are Christians, whether we know it or not, people are watching us, looking at how we behave and interact with others to gain an understanding of what Christianity and Jesus is all about.  
The weight of expectations can be incredibly heavy sometimes.  Life is, even in the best of times, tiring.  Meeting the expectations of those around you - and more importantly living up to and into the call God has placed on your life can be difficult and maybe even a little draining.
This is where watching Jesus and learning from him, in his humanity can be so instructive.  In the Luke passage, verses 15&16, we have the summary of the weight of peoples expectations of Jesus and Jesus' response to them: 
15But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. 16But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.
It may not sound like much, but there is the wisdom for how to handle the stress and weight of expectation and how to properly prepare and restore yourself to live the life you have been called to - find time and make space to be alone in conversation with God.  
This is how we find rest.  This is how we find peace.  This is how we are prepared, emotionally, physically and spiritually for the call God has placed on our lives.  Finding time and space to listen to God.  Finding time and space to speak to God.  
If we could do that and do it consistently, I believe that simply by living our lives those around us would be drawn into relationship with God because the lives were leading would be so different than the world around us.  
I think it is worth a try.
Briefly, I wanted to just touch on the rest of the Luke passage, because I love the story of the friends carrying their crippled friend to see Jesus and be healed.  When they can't get close to him, they dig a hole in the roof and lower their friend down to Jesus.  It is a great story and I think it is a witness and model for us.  
What faith these friends had, they trusted and really believed (to the point they were willing to physically carry their friend and then ruin a roof to bring him to Jesus) that Jesus had the power to heal their friend.  That is the question we have to ask ourselves: do we really believe that Jesus Christ matters?  Do we really believe that an encounter and relationship with Jesus Christ has the power to heal the brokenness in our lives and the lives of others?  Do we really believe that following Christ makes a difference in our lives?
If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then why aren't we carrying our friends to see and encounter Jesus?  
And if the answer to those questions is yes, then what walls are we willing to break down, what dangers are we willing to risk to bring our friends to meet and be healed by Jesus?

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