On Sunday I spoke at The Commons and shared some reflections and questions about the kind of person that Jesus is based on the passage in Mark 3. Paul led us in a moving alternative worship experience drinking a calm, cool, peaceful glass of water to represent the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. Pete led the community in a beautiful, spontaneous rendition of Amazing Grace, I was near tears as I began to speak as I had spent significant time that afternoon listening to Tim Selles’ lament on repeat. A beautiful Amazing Grace lament, but an hour of it left me a bit emotionally tender like a sunburn that makes even the softest of brushes with the world grate. If you haven’t heard it, grab some tissues and enjoy.
We started a new series for 2013 a few weeks ago that I have nicknamed ‘Take me to your Leader.’ We are spending time looking at the life of Jesus. As Christians, we follow Jesus and try to learn from his teachings and emulate him. It’s important for us to then spend a significant amount of time learning about who he was, is and wants us to be.
The story of Jesus healing on the Sabbath, while religious leaders tried to trap him and plot his demise, made me question the idea of rules. Our understanding of rules, how we follow them and interact with them. Recently, I’ve been reading an author by the name of Gretchen Rubin who has written about Happiness and how understanding ourselves and others can increase joy in our lives. One of the areas that she writes about is our interaction with rules.
How do I respond to an outer rule? A law, a traffic sign, a “request” from a partner or parent; a work deadline, an admonition from your doctor, an appointment with a trainer, social protocol?
How do I respond to an inner rule? A New Year’s resolution; a decision to exercise more; putting in work on a self-generated project (writing a novel, planting a garden).
With that in mind, consider whether any of these types rings a bell:
Upholder—accepts rules, whether from outside or inside. An upholder meets deadlines, follows doctor’s order, keeps a New Year’s resolution. I am an Upholder, 100%.
Questioner—questions rules and accepts them only if they make sense. They may choose to follow rules, or not, according to their judgment.
Rebel—flouts rules, from outside or inside. They resist control. Give a rebel a rule, and the rebel will want to do the very opposite thing.
Obliger—accepts outside rules, but doesn’t like to adopt self-imposed rules.
An upholder stops at a stop sign at 3:00 a.m. in a small deserted town; so does an obliger. A questioner decides whether it’s safe to stop. A rebel rolls through the stop sign at 3:00 p.m. in traffic.
We spent some times in groups discussing what kind of people we are…how we feel about rules and what we do with them. Then I spoke about Jesus’ rules of inclusion, shown in how he calls people to him – to Life. I love the nicknames that are given to the apostles and how he journeys with them. The final point that I made was that Jesus’ inclusion is so radical, that it will even include anyone despite any sin they’ve committed. The rules of sin and death are broken as he draws us to himself.
I promise you that any of the sinful things you say or do can be forgiven, no matter how terrible those things are. – Jesus, the gospel of Mark. Chapter 3
We ended our time together praying the Ragamuffin Prayer:
“Lord Jesus, we are silly sheep who have dared to stand before you and try to bribe you with our preposterous portfolios. Suddenly we have come to our senses. We are sorry and ask you to forgive us. Give us the grace to admit we are ragamuffins, to embrace our brokenness, to celebrate your mercy when we are at our weakest, to rely on your mercy no matter what we may do. Dear Jesus, gift us to stop grandstanding and trying to get attention, to do the truth quietly without display, to let the dishonesties in our lives fade away, to accept our limitations, to cling to the gospel of grace, and to delight in your love. Amen.”