A Blog Discussing the Scripture for Sunday April 7th
Scripture for This Week: John 12:1-11
Scripture for Next Week: Luke 19:28-40
Last Sunday my wife and I went to Tulsa to hear Rob Bell speak about a life centered on Joy. He said Joy is not the same as being happy which he defined as an absence of bad things. Joy is a state of being that can hold the bad things, realizing that they are an intimate companion on this journey with God. However, most people focus on the bad things and become blind to the little gifts of divine joy all around us. Joy, from Rob Bell’s perspective, is discovered when we learn how to see. Joy becomes a life companion when we move from being self-centered to living God-Centered.
This is a journey that requires a deep commitment. Very few people choose to re-center. It most often is forced upon us. It is a spiritual or emotional collapse or hard fall that forces us to examine the way we have been living, and then begin to seek a better way. Jesus calls this re-centering, ‘cleansing the inside of the vessel.’ “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you (Luke 11:39-41).” A friend of mine just published a book that describes the process of falling and the steps needed to get back up, and to cleanse the inside. Click here for a guide to the journey: Amy Crumpton, Me First: A Plan to Take Charge of Your Time and Your Life without Feeling Selfish. You see, we can’t serve others until we begin to become healthy ourselves.
In the scripture lesson this week, we experience the example of two people and their ability to see, or not see, from a mature spiritual perspective. Mary can see the deep pain beneath Jesus’ exterior. Perhaps she clearly understands what will happen to him as he challenges those who choose not to change the way they see. Her interior has been cleansed, and it is through the eyes of the Holy Spirit that she now engages the world. Judas, on the other hand, sees as the world sees. He may actually think that the perfume could have been sold to help the poor. But what he is completely missing is Mary’s depth of understanding regarding the peril Jesus is in. He only sees from his mind; his heart is completely left out of the conversation.
Judas sees the world through the lens of orthodoxy. This word means “right belief.” Mary see the world through the lens of orthopraxy. That word means “right practice.” Jesus choosing to give his life away in his ministry is a perfect example of orthopraxy. The resistance of the religious leaders of the day to his example and his message is a perfect example of orthodoxy. Robin Meyers is a pastor and professor who recently retired. A few years ago, he was invited to give a lecture series at Yale University regarding the state of Christianity in America based upon his lifetime of experience. The lectures were published in the book, Spiritual Defiance: Building a Beloved Community of Resistance. Here are some of his thoughts on how Jesus is trying to teach us to cleanse our insides. He is discussing why the major denominations in America are dissolving.
“The argument is made that lack of orthodoxy is the culprit, and we could save “the faith” by returning to the “faith of our fathers” (or mothers). But the truth may be much more disturbing. Namely, that in clinging to orthodoxy and the cosmology it requires, we are forcing intelligent and honest people to walk away. Not only do they not believe what they are being asked to believe, the actual behavior of those who insist they believe it often contradicts the claim that “believing it” is transformative. Put more simply, what is killing the church is the behavior of church people.”[i]
“The ego is enemy number one. It stands between the repentance we need, the turning around that is required for us to follow Jesus, and a different kind of blindness. Self-absorption is the root cause of human sin, whereas our orientation toward the other (or othering, as we call ministry at Mayflower Church) is the essence of the gospel. After all, how can you “other” if you are mostly preoccupied with no one other than yourself?”[ii]
Jesus never asked for us to be believers. He invites us to be followers. It is in following, that the Holy Spirit slowly helps us cleanse our insides. It is in learning to see others as Jesus sees them, that we learn to see the joy potential in most every moment.
[i] Meyers, Robin. Spiritual Defiance: Building a Beloved Community of Resistance (Kindle Locations 818-821). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.
[ii] Ibid (Kindle Locations 642-645).