Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Blogging Towards Sunday October 3, 2010

This week's passage is the ongoing continuation of what Jesus has been teaching since chapter 13 about discipleship and life of leadership based on following someone beyond ourselves, the tyranny of the urgent and our cultural context.  Leadership implies responsibility.  It doesn't equate earn entitlement.  Rather that in leadership, following the One from Nazareth we are changed as we change the world.  We are held responsible for our actions, not in a subservient, ego-crushing way; but rather in a life-affirming, leadership-maturing and earth-community-awareness-transforming way.  What we say and do and our relationships matter.

The disciples don't seem to get it.  They ask for more faith, as if what they have already doesn't suffice.  Jesus, in his consistently paradoxical and quite possibly irritating way, tells them that size doesn't matter. The whole mustard seed thing is about doing the impossible with the seemingly insufficient.  It's miraculous that you could tell a gigantic old-rooted [in Jesus' day they understood the mulberry tree could live for 600 years] tree to throw itself into the ocean.  Marvelous. Magnificent.  Miraculous, which is hard for us to explain, fathom and imagine in our scientific worldview.  Yet the point is not the miracle.  It's that the impossible is done with the impossible.  It's not what we can do or achieve.  It's what God is doing and can do through us.  We can't feel entitled to be God's conduit, nor should we feel entitled to glory and authority when we are it.  It's up to us to recognize our place.  We don't like subservience, being a slave/servant to others.  Shouldn't they serve us?  Or maybe we accept it, but only to a certain limit otherwise we're merely being oppressed in the name of religion like Marx saw the proletariat enduring in his day.  We're not unworthy because we're bad or evil, rather I hear Jesus saying in verse 10 don't forget who did it.  God is the one moving.  As Paul says it's in the Divine that we move, and live and have our being.  The God of Life is just that: the God of LIFE.

It's so easy to forget that, to try to micromanage God when we don't get what we want; even when it's justice for those around us.  But when we treat God that way it's as if we understand God to be like a genie in a bottle whom we summon when we want.  That's not who God is.  And that's not what God wants us to be: subservient victims who run to God when we're stuck.  Jesus invites those that dare to follow him to discover their true identities, to live from miraculously and deeply sufficient small mustard seed faith, rather than grandiose large faith. It's an invitation to be counter-cultural, to refuse to bow to the idol that bigger is better, that we are what we do, that we're entitled to better things.  He definitely wouldn't be elected to office in our current United States - but his truth-telling paints a picture of the life I think we all hunger for, one of deep honesty, authentic identity, interdependent relationships and life-giving collaboration; a third way somewhere between entitlement and subservience, between fear and false confidence, between self-aggrandizement and self-loathing.

We are loved.  God chooses to need us.  Miracles happen all the time.  Maybe the one we take most for granted is that the God of the Universe cares for each one of us, knows us by name, and calls us to community.

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