When I read Mark 9:30-37, I think of how the disciples mirrored what the world so wants to know. How important am I? We all want an answer to that question from God, our loved ones, our employers, and our friends. The disciples argued about just that:
(The Message Eugene Peterson) Leaving there, they went through Galilee. He didn’t want anyone to know their whereabouts, for he wanted to teach his disciples. He told them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed to some people who want nothing to do with God. They will murder him. Three days after his murder, he will rise, alive.” They didn’t know what he was talking about, but were afraid to ask him about it. They came to Capernaum. When he was safe at home, he asked them, “What were you discussing on the road? The silence was deafening—they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest.He sat down and summoned the Twelve. “So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.”He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.”
I love the way Jesus teaches. He first asks a question for which He has an answer. Confession is necessary to clear the heart and mind so He can begin. That’s true for the disciples and for me. I understand that deafening silence all too well; it is the beautiful open space God gives for growth. It seems like an abyss when I’m not ready to admit any wrongdoing or wrong thinking. Space is freeing, but only when truth is allowed free reign.
Jesus never answers my questions with a simple yes or no. Like the one He gives His disciples, answers are designed to make me come to knowledge. He doesn’t impart; He saves that for those who know it all and stand in judgment of others. He doesn’t work that way, and it bothers those who want easy answers and quick punishment. Christ is clear in His answer and gives food for thought, as always with Him.
Being first is still important, and it tears at the heart of God’s work. Divisions limit God and His work. Who gets to be the leader? Who will be in charge? Who will make the decisions? The answer to all those questions is obviously God, but man has the need to define and create a hierarchy when it comes to serving Him. Such a shame in that it causes His work to take a back burner to our plans. I wish the body of Christ looked more like Him, and it would be wonderful if we were more concerned with following than leading.
With the election coming near, division has reared its ugly head and is tearing our country apart. It’s hard not to get caught up in the anger this year. I’m used to the mudslinging that goes on, but this election goes well beyond the mud and is cutting right to the heart of this country. It breaks my heart, but it has taught a wonderful lesson as I’ve found myself floundering and falling right into the fray at times. I am reminded of the answer Jesus gave a group of followers falling into the same trap. He isn’t like the world, and I need to remember that. He isn’t running for office or sanctioning either candidate. He is bidding me to be last and to embrace the little ones who have the right answers until the adults teach the wrong ones. There’s a lot of bad teaching going on right now as those little ones mimic and mirror what they see before them. God forgive us all for that!