More and more as I read the bible, contemplate a few verses, do all that holy-roller stuff each day – the more I chuckle. The more I read – I find the same things that challenged the dusty peeps – they challenge me.
Jesus said to his disciples, “Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'” Luke 17:7-10
Dear God! There He goes again! Endorsing slavery! How unenlightened is that? And more than that – how un-loving is that? And this from “God” – this “Supreme Being” (apparently) – this Creator of All – this omnipresence I regard as “Unconditional Love”! How dare He! How dare He!
Now it may be that you don’t have that kind of reaction. It may be that yours is more like:
Of course He is God, the bible says so. It’s not down to us to question the workings of God. We simply obey Him in trust and faith. So is He talking slavery? Well, yes – but in the context of those poor people back then. That is how they did things. And it is through the teachings of Jesus that we now know better!
Or you could react in a different way. Any number of different ways. And that reaction may have changed over the days or weeks or years.
Mine used to be the “Dear God” reaction. Not that I would have admitted it to anyone. Seems too “lost world” – too “atheist” somehow. Then it became the “Of course He is God” reaction. But I still felt uncomfortable admitting that as well. Seems too “unthinkingly obedient” somehow. And today I chuckle.
Seems to me that Jesus invites a lifelong journey. “Every journey begins with one single step” – and all that. But every journey also passes through different landscapes and times (unless on a treadmill in a gym). And every journey changes. Not just the scenery. Every journey changes “me” (if I allow).
And God Soft Hands Jesus “nailed that” so wonderfully.
His examples and parables are not answers. They are a challenge. A challenge to my mindset right now today. How I think, what I believe, where I am in my relationship with Him and you … and all of that will change … all of that is transitory. So I do not need answers that are permanent. I would not survive and thrive with answers cast in concrete.
Imagine a 100 metre sprinter.
There is not one “permanent” running step or “way of stepping” in their (very short) journey. They crouch and spring, they power and hunker, they expand and stretch, they push and lean, they burst and relax. All in just 100 metres. A “journey” lasting less than 10 seconds (for the current record holder).
Would you tell Usain Bolt how to run? I wouldn’t.
But if I was his coach – I might challenge him – I might challenge him to look at one part of that very short journey. I might challenge his mindset of what was and what was not in “that bit”. That is what coaches do. Good coaches. And I am guessing that Usain Bolt and his coach have chuckled many times. Because you don’t get to be that good by taking yourself too seriously all the time.
That is when you stop being challenged. When everything is a serious “disability” and weakness to be overcome – when everything relies on “me beating me” (which has disturbing echoes of “I am but a poor sinner” as I write those words).
This morning I see “mindset”. This morning I hear “challenge”. This morning I hear my coach chuckling. This morning I hear myself … my own reaction. Not His words, nor His ”answers”. I hear my own mindset being challenged. And I hear chuckling.
I am curious. What do you hear today?