Ticked Off

He that is made in the image of God must know him or be desolate –George MacDonald

The other morning I was reading Mark 3. Jesus was in the synagogue and a man was there with a deformed hand. How the man came to Jesus’ attention is not stated. It was known that healing on the sabbath was not allowed except to save a life, so did the man stand in a conspicuous place so Jesus would see him? Or did a friend make a comment, like “Jesus, I would like you to shake hands with my friend. Oh, yes, he can’t shake hands.” Regardless, the man was there with a need. Some Pharisees and Herodians were also there, some of whom were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus. And Jesus knew it.

The stage is set.

Calling the man to stand in front of everyone Jesus asks a question that had been discussed over the generations. To us it seems clearly rhetorical, but to the seriously committed religious leader of Jesus’ day it was a significant question. “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” Perhaps their thoughts went something like this: To save life? Yes, but this man’s life is not in danger. Is doing good on the same level as saving a life? And is he implying that delaying a day in honor of the Sabbath is actually evil? How could that be??

Regardless of what they may have been thinking. Their response to Jesus’ question came through loud and clear: silence.

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “stretch out your hand.”

In the past when I’ve thought about this I’ve been aware of his deep distress at their stubborn hearts. This time I was struck by a connected thought with a different facet: his anger at their silence.

He asked a question and they would not engage him. They played it safe. And it made him angry. I’ve been thinking about how serious God is about having relationship with us. Happy, angry, hurting or joyful, but always honest and authentic. Joyfully praising him with our “Hallelujah!” or crying out to him in our brokenness, “Hosanna” (“Lord, help!” also a word of praise).  Engaging in a conversation, even an argument, is to receive an invitation into relationship. And they refused.

What came to my mind at this point was the thought: have there been times when I’ve played it safe and not told the Lord my honest thoughts, feelings and understandings, and angered him as a result? Has he been mad at me, not so much because my understanding or feelings were wrong, but because I refused to honestly talk with him about them. Effectively shutting him out. Playing it safe instead of risking relationship?

I’m learning anew to get out of my comfort zones in order to know and be known more deeply.

Blessings, Nils

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