Monday, November 1, 2010

Need a Favor, Jesus...

(photo from
I can just picture it, and I have to is funny. It is in Mark 10, and happens after a very somber teaching moment between Jesus and the Twelve. Jesus had been going along, doing the stuff Jesus did, and the disciples were following, probably only paying about half as much attention as they should have been.

This is all happening right on the heels of the Transfiguration and the healing of the demon possessed boy at the bottom of the mountain. Jesus has already told the disciples that whoever is not against them is for them, and that if they see someone doing things in His name to just leave them alone and let them do it. He has thrown out some teachings on sin and divorce, and has already gathered the little children in his arms, then chewed the disciples out for trying to keep the kids away from him. Now, he hasn't just once, or even twice...but three times, tried to tell the Twelve what was going to happen to him.

"They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. 'We are going up to Jerusalem,' he said, 'and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise. Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. 'Teacher,' they said, 'we want you to do for us whatever we ask...'

See what happens when we take out the chapter and verse separations? James and John didn't hear a word he said. They were too busy thinking about what he could do for them. I'm guilty too. I've done it. In fact, I'll bet we have all done it. I will admit though, until I went into the ministry, I didn't realize I had been doing it. I didn't realize that I was giving my time to worship, and my body to worship, but not always giving my mind to worship. I was busy going over my to-do list, or thinking about lunch, or where the race was that afternoon, or how nice a Sunday afternoon nap would be. I might have been thinking about something I had asked God for but hadn't gotten yet, or...well, you see what I mean.

When I started planning worship, and then later as I was trained on how to plan worship, I began directing everything towards one moment in the service...the invitation. The music...the liturgy...the scripture...the message, all point to that one moment. Call it a response to the word, an altar call, invitation, whatever language you might choose, but the entire service is pointing to a moment where we can respond to whatever it is that Jesus has said to us during that time. Sometimes it's more overt than others. Sometimes it's very subtle, but it's always there...and then it happens...

The music was great...the scripture spoke...the message wasn't too bad...the invitation has been extended, and then...wait for it...somebody in the congregation says, "Oh wait, I forgot to say something..." or "Jamie, can I make an announcement?" And that is the sound of the wind being sucked out of the sails of worship. Oh, it doesn't happen often, usually only once or twice a year, but when it does I can't help but giggle, even in frustration, because evidently some of the Twelve did it too. What's cool is that God can even use those moments. Yeah, worship didn't end as I had it pictured in my head, so what? Worship is bigger than what I had planned for that day anyhow.

Jesus could have done what practically every parent has done when James and John pulled that little stunt, "Boys! Dang it! You didn't hear a word I just said, did you? I have told you three times and you still aren't listening! Don't make me pull over!" But he didn't. He took it in stride, and turned even that moment into one of the greatest teaching moments on humility in the scriptures. I think this is a very honest look at his inner circle. We forget that they were just as human as we are.
So, here's what I'm going to do, and I ask you to try it with me. The next time we go into a house of worship, let's go in body, soul, and mind...all of it. For one hour, turn off the outside world. For one hour, give God what is due. Forget about lunch. Forget about the meetings coming up that week. Forget about what you didn't get done before church, and just be. I'll bet, I can't guarantee, but I'll bet you'll come away more transformed than you ever thought possible.


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