Being Human

26 Sep

I’m back again to say ‘Hello’ and write down a few thoughts.

The scripture designated for this Sunday’s worship service has been flowing around in my head, as usual.

The gospel reading, Matthew 21:23-32, recalls Jesus walking into the Temple in Jerusalem.  The Temple was the center of religious power and questions of power are asked.  The chief priest and elder asks what gives Jesus the authority to preach and heal and forgive and speak of God’s kingdom.  In essence, “where are your credentials Jesus?”, with the implication that if Jesus can show the credentials, they will respect his authority.  Jesus, who would make a get politician, never gets trapped in a question.  He turns the tables and challenges the men who claim themselves to have the power to decide if he has “proper authority” to continue preaching and healing and teaching as he wanders around.

23 Then he was back in the Temple, teaching. The high priests and leaders of the people came up and demanded, “Show us your credentials. Who authorized you to teach here?”

24-25 Jesus responded, “First let me ask you a question. You answer my question and I’ll answer yours. About the baptism of John—who authorized it: heaven or humans?”

25-27 They were on the spot and knew it. They pulled back into a huddle and whispered, “If we say ‘heaven,’ he’ll ask us why we didn’t believe him; if we say ‘humans,’ we’re up against it with the people because they all hold John up as a prophet.” They decided to concede that round to Jesus. “We don’t know,” they answered.

Jesus said, “Then neither will I answer your question.

Jesus knew the source of his power and never felt the need to prove it to anyone.  It was his connection to God that provided strength, and power, and grace to respond to the needs of those with whom he traveled and those who came to hear him preach and those who came to him for healing.  I like the juxtaposition of this gospel lesson with the reading from the epistle.  We have finished reading through Romans and have begun reading through Philippians.  The passage for this Sunday is thought to contain one of the first affirmations of faith regarding Jesus.

In verses 1-4, the writer is personal and trying to talk the Christian community into acting like Christ!  So, in verses 5-8, the writer gives details as to what that exactly looks like.

1-4 If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

5-8 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

I don’t think this kind of humility means letting people walk over us, or never making a disagreeable statement. I think it means being clear about who we are – Children of the Divine – and who’s we are – God’s – and what are purpose is – to continue the work of Christ.  We are to continue to preach and teach and heal and care and listen as Christ representatives in the world.  To be fully convinced of who we are and what guides our lives gives us the power to live transformed lives.  It is not a power that bullies anyone, or dominates the other; it is power that offers choices and lures us into a whole and holy life.

Alicia Keys wrote a new song that asks the question of what we are doing here – like on the planet or with our lives.  I wonder how many answers have God in the midst of them?    I wonder if we can truly give any answer to that question that does not involve the Divine?

I always have questions that lead to questions and then lead onto more questions.  But, I enjoy the journey.  Thanks for reading, I hope some of it made sense.     Peace


One Response to “Being Human”

  1. Linda October 8, 2014 at 2:41 am #

    Thanks, Mary. I needed this today. 🙂

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