Hopefully, you’re not sick. I say that because it seems like 2/3 of the population of Central Illinois is sick right now. In fact, I took someone into the Emergency Room and it took 3 1/2 hours to get her even looked at (because, as the admitting doctor finally told us, “You’re fairly sick, but there are just a lot of people sicker than you here tonight”). Apparently, all of the hospitals around here are filled with sick people and are thus having to send their overflows to other hospitals in the area. Yikes!
Anyway, please keep the various people in our church family in your prayers who are struggling with physical ailments. Pray especially for Janet McClure, who’s in the hospital recovering from sepsis after a nasty infection. She’s getting better, but it’ll be a long haul getting over all of this. So please do pray, because she may be getting out of the hospital and into physical rehab as early as the end of this week.
Please pray also for an old friend of mine named Matt, who is at a crucial stage of his kidney replacement process. He finally had a good report today (so praise God!), but he also still has a long road ahead of him. I’m sure that Matt and his whole family would appreciate your prayers.
In our message this week, we got back into the Gospel of Mark, after last week’s Sanctity of Human Life focus. And we did what, in general, you really probably shouldn’t do -- we looked at multiple stories spread out over tons of verses.
In general, that’s not a great idea to do, since the main points of the stories can get all jumbled up in your head, and you can’t spend the time unpacking details that would normally help you understand the stories to their fullest. But when you look at the moments of ministry that Mark throws together right at the beginning of his Gospel -- when you look at them in rapid succession like we did this week -- then you can see an overarching pattern that I think he was trying to help us recognize: that Jesus did everything totally wrong.
He was out praying when the disciples knew there was work to be done. He actually clutched a leper that no one else would probably even have looked at (and then told him not to tell anyone, which the man clearly saw as Jesus being wrong again). He forgave a paralytic’s sins (when his friends had been looking for healing, and which the Pharisees saw as blasphemy, since only God can forgive sins). He called a tax collector to be one of His disciples, then had the audacity to eat at his house with sinners! In fact, His own disciples seemed to be enjoying themselves, while other “holy” men rightly fasted and lived dour, sour lives. He allowed his disciples to nibble on some grain on the Sabbath -- then wrongly healed a man on the Sabbath later on. Over and over, Jesus kept doing things wrong.
Well, I guess that’s a matter of semantics, when you think about it. I mean, Jesus kept doing things differently than “righteous” people thought things should be done, but that’s just functionally another working definition for “sin,” right? No... actually, a better definition for “sin” would be us doing things differently than God thinks things should be done... so technically, when we say that God’s the one doing things wrong, then we’re actually the ones in the wrong.
Now, I say that not because we regularly tell God that He’s doing things wrong today, but because we all-too-regularly tacitly think it. Like the Pharisees, we grumble in our own minds, “But that’s not the way I planned it...” or “But I don’t really want to reach out to that kind of person...” or “But I don’t like this answer to prayer...” etc, -- all of which, when you think about it, is us telling God that He did it wrong. We drag our feet to follow His leading, or we actively avoid the commands of Scripture that we’re the most uncomfortable with (“But I can’t forgive that guy -- you don’t know what he did to me!” or “I know that we’re supposed to love our enemies, but our enemies are just so unlovable!” Etc.)
The sad truth is that when we begin to justify not following Christ’s lead, then we end up navigating to dark places -- like the people so concerned that Jesus wasn’t honoring God correctly on the Sabbath that they began plotting His murder on the Sabbath (which arguably doesn’t honor God at all).
So stop and think about whether or not you’re really yielding yourself to God, or if you have any blind spots in your life where you (even tacitly) allow yourself to think that maybe God’s just not doing things quite right. Does God ever call you to do things differently than you think you’d like them to be done? If so, then which one of you is actually doing it wrong?