Tuesday, March 25, 2014

From Stymied to Yes Man

You gotta love Jesus putting the smackdown on someone...espcially the arrogant and judegmental. Now I have to admit that arrogance is a real pet peeves of mine. When I see someone looking down on others or being snide and/or condescending because of some presumed superiority...well...it just insenses me and this cry for justice wells up inside of me. I want nothing more than to set things right...to see the arrgoant humbled. Which is probably why I love this story about Jesus and the chief priests (Matthew 21:23-27). The challenge, of course, is that I am not as quick to recognize those moments when I am the one being arrogant.

So Jesus enters the temple, and immediately the chief priests approach him (as if they've been waiting for him). The come at him in their characteristic "high and mighty" tone and demand that Jesus explain Himself. Now there is little doubt we are witnessing a supernatural patience when we see Jesus simply suggest a deal. If they answer His question, He will answer theirs. So Jesus asks (without waiting to see if they agree to the deal), "Was John's baptism of heavenly origin or human origin?" Of course Jesus knew He had them...even before He asked, because He knew them better than they knew themselves. And after much discussion, sure enough the chief priests were stymied...stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Now I don't know if you are like me, but I derive no small pleasure from seeing the chief priests humbled by Jesus. But as always, I think Jesus' intent was bigger...and we see it in the answer given by the chief priests...or rather the lack of an answer.

It seems to me the real failure on the part of the chief priests is that they missed Jesus' question altogether. Here Jesus, God's only Son, was encouraging them to consider with Him the profound, supernatural, awesome work of God...and rather than accept the invitation and really think about John's Baptism and what it means...they spent all of their time debating which was the most socially acceptable answer....which was the most beneficial answer politically. They couldn't push beyond the mundane concerns of this world. They were so addicted to power and prestige that all that mattered was which answer gave them more of both...or at least didn't cost them any of either. The truth of the answer was seemingly unimportant. And so, because they couldn't figure out how they could benefit from either response, they offered none. "We don't know."

How often does Christ give us opportunities to consider the profound works of God...or even better, how often does He give us the opportunity to cooperate with Him in His works...and instead of seizing the opportunity, we get caught up in how our participation will look to others...or in what it will cost us (leisure time, sleep, money, etc.)? How often do we have an invitation from God to be still and listen to him (as Mary did) and instead we put off or try to delay that opportunity because we have other, more pressing things we have to busy ourself with (as Martha did)? How often does the Holy Spirit lead us directly to an opportunity to touch someone's life with God's Love and instead we hesitate because we don't know them or we don't know what to say or it feels "weird"?

I am afraid to admit it...but I am not sure I am that different from the chief priests sometimes. Opportunities come...both those I recognize and those I am too busy to recognize...and I find myself stymied. I think about too many things other than the simple call at hand. God wants to engage me. The Creator of this universe wants to have a conversation with me. The King of kings wants me to help Him. He wants me to work with Him...to serve with Him. And what do I do? I think about all the problems...all the worries...all the social consequences...all things that my responding could "cost" me. And in the end...I miss it....the opportunity slips by.

Forgive me, Father, for being no better than your enemies. Forgive me for the opportunities I miss worrying about what they will cost me...or what others will think of me if I act on your prompting. But more than just forgive me...please transform me.

Dear Holy Mother, please teach me your obedience. We have no greater human example than your immediate fiat to God's request. Please show me how to say "yes" to whatever God asks of me in my life. Help me to accept and embrace whatever opportunities He brings my way. Please pray that in the same breath that I say "yes," I can also let go of the worries and anxieties of not accomplishing my plans for that moment....of doing something that may be initially uncomfortable to me...and of giving more or something different than I thought I could give. I want to be someone God can use. I want to be someone God can rely on. I want to be ready to love whenever the opportunity presents itself. In short, I don't want to be arrogant...and selfish. I want to be God's "yes man"...each and every moment.

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