7th day of Advent
December 9th, 2017
“Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
I've done it a million times. I've made a casual statement in a casual context and almost immediately someone chips in with a wonderfully irrelevant comment and hijacks the entire conversation. For example, instead of encouraging the Church by supporting the work of a group of Christians living in poverty in Tanzania, a recent conversation turned into a debate as to whether 'God smiles'. Instead of seeing Christ at work in this wonderful act of Love, an example from which we could all learn - a joyless debate ensued. Are we not called to be "fishers of men"? Or are we too busy fishing for red herrings? If you are not sure what I mean by "red herrings", follow this link; but, fair warning, it is a red herring. Our evangelism can often be distracted and hijacked by nonsense.
This isn't a new problem. The apostles were embroiled in it. The patriarchs were caught up in it. Even Jesus, as we read in the Gospel of Mark today, was faced with it. How should we respond? The short answer: look to Jesus. Our salvation is found in Him alone ... there is no salvation in theological gymnastics. (Romans 14)
Just as Jesus patiently but efficiently dispensed with the conundrums, cut through the distractions and refocused on what it means to live in Christ, so we must continually refocus. Our hope is not found in human wisdom seeking out hidden knowledge or debating the non-essentials of faith. Hope is found in Christ alone - He is our cornerstone. His truth is plain, His burden is light and His Word is clear for those who will hear.
As we read further into this section of Mark's Gospel, we watch as Jesus dispenses quickly with the nonsense posited, and traps set by elitist, wealthy, puffed-up, Temple theologians. When Jesus wants to illustrate true and living faith, He does not direct our attention to those highly esteemed men of the Temple! Rather He points us to someone who could hardly be more their opposite. He points to a poor widow and says 'there, look at her.' In the acts of a poor widow, we will find something we really, truly need to know. "Out of her poverty," we will learn essential lessons of eternal life. From her humble example, as narrated by Jesus, some essential symptoms of Christ following are highlighted - Love, trust and obedience.
Be prepared. Be aware. Stay focused. The Master is coming soon.