The Desire For a Place of Power

“But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest.” 

Mark 9:34, New Living Translation

As the disciples walked they talked.  There was a casualness as they followed Jesus, it was a warm day and they walked, and sometimes even stopped–keeping up in a relaxed way. They finally meander their way slowly into Capernaum.  There was a safe-house there, and a place of peace.  It is here that Jesus confronts His followers.

He wants to know what they were talking about as they walked.  “What did you say to each other?”  The disciples looked at each other, and then down at the floor.  No one spoke. I think they were ashamed.  No one would reveal what they had thought about, and then had spoken out loud.

Did Jesus really need to ask this?  I honestly don’t know, but as I think about these verses, I say yes, and no.  Jesus was bringing His disciples to a place– an opportunity for them to be critically honest, perhaps even a bit reflective and thoughtful.  And yet He knew exactly what they had been discussing.

Even though the disciples knew what they had discussed on that dusty road; they don’t know that Jesus knows.  Awkward.  At this point Jesus doesn’t confront.  He shows.  As they sit down, Jesus begins to reveal their hearts.  A local street urchin, playing outside is brought into the house.  The disciples look, and think.  The child moves close to Jesus.  Jesus pulls him close.

At this point, Jesus begins to say things that elevate.  One of those crystalline moments that happen when His truth meets the human understanding.  That child is transformed into a lesson of influence.

Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.”  v.37

This is a clear, and powerful statement of how things operate in the kingdom.  The child is brought into ultimate significance and worth.  The disciples are diminished into a lower status.  It’s funny, but our treatment of a child describes our real relationship with our Father God, and our Savior Jesus.  That little one has now become our “litmus test.”

I encourage you to seek out and develop relationships with the children in your life.  Although this is a literal interpretation, it will adjust us to a broader application of our Lord’s lesson.  When we are altered, we will be putting others first.  Our desire for place, and the power that goes with it, is nullified and zeroed out.

1brobry-sig4 (2)

 

cropped-christiangraffiti1-3-1

 

 

 

H

Is Jesus Your Center?

Jesus, the Center of Life and Time

“The apostles gathered around Jesus and told him about all the things they had done and taught.”

Mark 6:30, New Century Version

We need to become accountable to Him for the things we say, and the things we do.  A liberated discipleship is one that can’t be trusted–there is no supervision, and no direction.  And we need to be accountable.  It is not a question of freedom– but of slavery, and duty (kind of a “neutral” word.)  Within our culture, we are dancing on a knife’s edge, and we become intensely counter-cultural when we live authentically as His disciples.

The text has noted, “They gathered unto Him.”  That dear one, is the real essence of your walk.  He is the absolute center, that fact will never change.  Without Him we will drift in and out, unfocused and confused.  But these wonderful disciples know absolutely that Jesus Christ is their common focus, no matter what their own personal proclivities.

A simple word about all the plurality and variety among Christians.  We are intensely different.  Some of us are Pentecostals, and some are Roman Catholics.  Some Orthodox, Lutherans and Quakers. We are Mennonites, Baptists and Methodists. There is so much variety in the Church.  But I think that all of us are coming to Jesus–He is our center!

I no longer doubt or fear the amazing variety that is in the Church.  We are dealing with a God who can’t even make snowflakes alike!  We make Styrofoam cups that are exactly alike, and He does snowflakes.  He insists on creativity and being unique. Shouldn’t our churches reflect this?

The verse tells us that the disciples had the freedom to come to Jesus and report.  There wasn’t a need to embellish or exaggerate their work. They are not in competition with each other.  They have a broad confidence, an easiness and sureness about Him.  Jesus is the easiest master to work for.  Bob Dylan told us, “You gotta serve somebody.”

And serving Him is kind of demanding, but it is also a great and wonderful joy.  Only those caught in the middle are miserable.  They can’t make the choice.  They’re in a tough place. We must pray for them.

“Done and taught.”  The disciples have been active on their journey.  They have travelled different directions. They work, and then they teach.  And really that is all that disciple comes down to.  Working, and talking.  Talking, and working.  I believe that it was significant that this would become the focal point, and bulk of their time with Jesus was essential.  That tells me something.  In some real sense, this is how we are to monitor and evaluate ourselves.

1)  Do I gather onto Jesus with others?

2)  Do I share with Him things that matter?

3)  Do I evaluate my service with His light?

4)  Do I tell Him everything– “honest and truthful?”

U

ybic, Bryan

j