Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Lack of faith = lack of power?

Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What's this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?” And they took offense (skandalizō) at him. Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Mar 6:1-6

Jesus came to his Home town the folks that should know him best show that they have heard of the miracles and teachings he has been doing by the nature of their questions.

So why the doubt?

Although many people believe his power was limited and he couldn't any miracles because Jesus was met with disbelief, I don't think this was the case at all.

Mark uses the word skandalizō here. We find Jesus using the same word in a couple of other places...

Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy.
But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly Fall away (skandalizō). Mar 4:16-17

"You will all fall away (skandalizō)," Jesus told them, "for it is written: " 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.'
But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."
Peter declared, "Even if all fall away (skandalizō ), I will not."
"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "today-yes, tonight-before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times."
But Peter insisted emphatically, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the others said the same. Mar 14:27-31

Jesus was able to do miraculous things with and even through his disciples, and yet he clearly says they will all skandalizō.

And while we are talking about doubt I seem to remember an incident involving walking on water in which there was some degree of doubt...

Its interesting to me that Mark places this story here in the text. It is a sharp contrast to the healing of the bleeding woman, raising of the dead girl, calming of the storm, and healing of the deamon posest man. In all of these other examples Jesus appears to have tremendous power.

So are we really looking at a lack of power?

Often when someone asks me why Jesus would say he is the only way I feel as if they are asking why some are excluded. I have however found that their question seems to be framed a little wrong.

They are viewing Jesus statement as if he is some kind co dependant God. Like he is saying love me or else I'm going to punish you forever.

But that's not what he is saying at all.

In a house fire children tend to hide from firefighters. The house is smoky and hot, there are probably loud fire alarms going off and the firefighters are wearing Darth-Vader looking costumes. In this situation a firefighter may come crashing through the door and reach out for the child saying “I'm here to save you.” if the child resists the firefighter may say “The house is on fire, come with me or you will die.” The firefighter is not saying “If you don't choose to hang out with me I'll kill you.” He is saying “I've come to help you, there is no other way out, no one else can come in here to get you.”

Jesus is saying “This world is burning up, I'm here to save you. I'm not going to force you to come with me. But you need to know I'm the only one coming for you, there is no one else...”
I think the same kind of thing is going on in Mark 6. God desires restoration physically and spiritually. But he won't force his will on anyone. Those who are rocky soil, who fall away, who lack faith may not fully enter the Kingdom of God and receive that restoration.
As the pithy christian saying goes “God loves you but he won't force you to love him.”

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Our goal as Christ-followers is simply not to be good at the great commandment, but to be great at it

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment."

With this simple quote from Jesus Mark Batterson (no relation) begins to unpack what it might mean to really begin believing Jesus not just believing in Jesus. He invites us to cut away the politics and the unnecessary drapery (some of which is beautiful), and simply explore what following Jesus is in the simplest, rawest, purest form possible

Primal takes you on a journey to rediscover the true meaning of the great commandment.

Mark asserts "The truth is that most of us are already educated way beyond the level of our obedience." In essence he points out that we tend come up with a list of “dos” and “don’ts” and “OKs” and “not OKs” to show that we are different and hold that up to the world as Christianity.

He also writes “I couldn't’t help but wonder if we have diluted the truths of Christianity and settled for superficialities. I couldn't’t help but wonder if we have accepted a form of Christianity that is more educated but less powerful, more civilized but less compassionate, more acceptable but less authentic than that which our spiritual ancestors practiced.”

Mark concludes that "Our goal as Christ-followers is simply not to be good at the great commandment, but to be great at it."

He ends the book with an invitation to all people to become part of the next reformation movement. A reformation that consists of being “a part of something that is bigger than you, more important than you and longer lasting than you.” It is an invitation to rediscover and rejoin the movement that turned the world upside down two thousand years ago.