(photo from www.treesflowersbirds.wordpress.com)
(Again these are my thoughts and not representative of anyone else, nor the churches I serve)
I absolutely love Calvin and Hobbes. I have 3 or 4 Calvin and Hobbes books, and they never get old. That 6 year old boy and his tiger have made me laugh more times than I can count. I've often wondered what Calvin would be like as an adult. Part of me thinks he would outgrow his mischevious, rebellious ways, but part of me hopes he wouldn't. That kid was always getting into something, and most of the time he dragged his poor tiger with him.
As I was reading this morning, I caught a glimpse of what Calvin would probably have looked like as an adult. Now, don't think this blasphemous because it's not intended that way, but in Matthew 21, Jesus reminds me a lot of grown up Calvin. He has his ideas of the way things need to be and knows who he is.
You see, we have this image of Christ as the gentle lamb, standing before Pilate uttering barely a word, then being led to his fate and not resisting, but there is a whole other side of Jesus that the scriptures talk about almost as much. Matthew 21 gives example after example of this other side of our Messiah.
Jesus knew who he was, and by riding into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey, he wasn't just looking for transportation, he was making a statement...a very loud statement, much like Calvin would do when he would march into the living room and make some important announcement to his parents.
Then there's the scene in the temple. Matthew doesn't record the fact that Jesus made a whip to drive out the money changers but John does. Folks there that day knew that he was either insane, or that he was very serious about his calling. This doesn't sound like a silent lamb to me.
And the fig tree...what about the fig tree? Were figs even in season when Jesus went to the tree and cursed it for being barren? It looks to me like Jesus is not going to take any guff off of anyone, trees included.
And the riddles...always with the riddles. "I will ask you one question. If you answer me I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things." Certainly, not everything he said was a riddle. The parables were stories he used to present some deeper truth in a way that the folks he was with could understand. But sometimes, he just tried to trip folks up...especially the "teachers of the law." The parable of the two sons...the parable of the tenents... They knew he was talking about them.
Scripture doesn't say that he was sitting there with that little Calvin grin, wringing his hands, just thinking of the next thing he could do to get to them, but he wasn't going to let them win either.
So, what am I getting at? Well, silence has its place sometimes. So does pacifism. Sometimes I could do more of both. But sometimes we have to be proactive in our calling. Sometimes that being proactive may be seen by some as ego or selfishness, conceit or just plain old pushiness. But it's not. It's a passion to fulfill a calling. When I read Matthew 21, I don't see Jesus the rebel, or Jesus the smart aleck. I see someone passionate about who they are and what they are called to do.
I have a tendency of coming across a little pushy sometimes, especially when it comes to ministry. That's not intended. I think I have some of the folks at First Church a little concerned right now because of some of the ideas rolling around in my head. That's not intended either. However, when I think of who I am a Jesus follower, I think I'd rather be like Calvin...Calvin was only scared of monsters under his bed, nothing else. I think I have gotten to the place where I have lost my fear as well.
Yeah, sure he probably should have thought some things through a little better, and I've been guilty of the same rashness, but when I read Matthew 21 again, I'm not convinced that's always a bad thing.
So I ask you this: Who are we called to be? Are we called to be on the sidelines, waiting to be dragged into the next adventure like some stuffed tiger? Or, are we called to see the Jesus in Matthew 21 and recognize that this Jesus is the same Jesus that stood before Pilate in near silence? Or maybe we're called to some of both? ...silent observer AND proactive witness. The one does sometimes temper the other. I'm just not sure that I'm a sidelines kind of guy though.
Just some thoughts I had this morning.