Monday, March 26, 2012

God in Garden and Field (Mark 2:23-28)

God walks in the Garden with Adam. They fellowship, discussing and enjoying the beauties and varieties of God’s creation. Adam proudly relates the names he has given to the different animals, and how he has joyfully worked to tend through arrangement and cultivation. If this could only go on forever.
Jesus walks in the field with his disciples. They fellowship, forgetting for a moment that they live in a sin-cursed world. Their progress is soon interrupted by the critical questioning of the religious-types: “Why do you do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” This is not the first attempt at death-by-a-thousand-questions. It won’t be the last. It seems like these attacks will go on forever.
The first instance is an unhindered fellowship in a good creation. The second is an uphill discipleship on the road to redemption. This second road, our road, is marked by conflict and persecution, but also by peace and hope. 
Jesus directs attention to David on-the-run from the passing-away administration of Saul in 1 Samuel 21. It is a cruel and desperate existence. He asks for, and receives, the holy bread which only the priests were allowed to eat. Why is this permitted? When the law enforcement official breaks the speed-limit, he is fulfilling his calling. When the boss gives away his product for free, it is generosity. When God’s Anointed steps into the room, the room bends to his will. When the Creator walks in the field, any day, Sabbath or not, all is for His pleasure and purposes, shared with those who are with him. When disciples walk in fellowship and mission with their Creator and Redeemer, there are no outside accusations that pertain. When God is pleased in the Garden, any supposed violation of law is a contradiction of terms. 
Granted, in this mean-time, the fellowship/mission of Jesus’ disciples is flawed. Our hearts are tested and exposed by God’s Spirit, using the blade and burn of the law to cut and cauterize our sinful hearts. But remember, it is this same Spirit who facilitates that fellowship/mission with/of Jesus. That is His goal, and ours, as we are Spirit-led.
Jesus, the One and Only, teaches different than us (Mk 1:22). 
Listen and learn. 
He does not merely counsel; He cures (Mk 1:27). 
Seek his transforming power from the inside out. 
He forgives sins (Mk 2:5). 
Receive His forgiveness. 
He touches what is diseased (Mk 1:41), and eats with the unclean (Mk 2:15). 
Hold out your hand, and invite him to your life. 
He accepts the rude and crude into his retinue (Mk 1:16-20; 2:14). 
Follow him. 
"Yet you are a man and not a god, though you have regarded your heart as that of a god" (Ezekiel 28:2b).
Nothing discredits religion quite like the gap that often yawns between what believers profess and how they live. (Douthat), NYT, 3/25/12)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Jesus, defending his disciples (Mark 2:18-22), explains that their identity and and measure of life has been changed through their relationship with himself. They are now "sons of the bridegroom." Jesus was their life. Jesus was their reason for living. Since Jesus' ascension, Jesus' disciples now live "in between the times," already experiencing a measure of the joys of fellowship with Jesus, but not yet experiencing the fullness of face to face relationship with Jesus. So "the sons of the bridegroom" today will both fast and feast (in fellowship); they will both mourn and rejoice; they will both confess their sins and celebrate God's grace. It is a paradoxical kind of live in which the brightness of the heavenly reality continually pierces the gloom of earthly tragedy. We do not live as though the are not both pains and problems. But we also do not live as though our lives are defined by our pains and problems. Also, we do not live fleeing and fearing those unpleasant patches, nor do we frantically search for those brief flashes of earthly joy that only serve as distractions. Jesus is our Rock and our Joy in all situations.

Jesus continues in this passage with two short parables: one about the garment that needs to shrink, and the other about wineskins that need to expand. Since neither will, or can, they need to be re-made, or re-placed. They need to be Jesus-sized. As "sons of the bridegroom," we are clothed with the new garment of Christ's righteousness, in which Christ is no mere patch, but our whole set of clothes. Concerning wineskins, with the Spirit of Christ inside of us, we are able to stretch as He sees fit as the body of Christ, in the service of Christ. Our lives are marked both by constriction and expansion. We do not expect that Christ will accommodate Himself to the shape of our lives, as if we were the designers of our own lives. Rather, we submit to His Lordship and ask that He would re-size us according to His pleasure.

As followers of Jesus, we live both under the hand of God, and we walk by the Spirit of God. And we cannot really walk in the Spirit if we do not submit to God's hand.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

"for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,"
Praying for the tornado-stricken.