Saturday, August 1, 2015

The shocking attitudes of Jesus, part 2

For years I had a simplistic idea of how a true Christian should behave. I thought that being patient, loving and kind would please God, protect me from the devil, and enable me to be saved. Only in my late twenties did I realize that what God is really looking for are people with faith, a real faith that moves mountains and has the courage to confront problems. 

I learned that real faith demands much more than patience, love and kindness, and began to realize how different Jesus was from me, and from the large majority of Christians today. His thoughts and actions were shocking and radical, and I realized that if I wanted to be a true man of God and to see His power in my life, I would have to copy this new concept of how a Christian should behave.

One day a Canaanite woman called out to Jesus as He walked along with His disciples, asking Him to heal her daughter who was demon possessed and close to death. Jesus reacted to her harshly. At first He ignored her cries, and only after His disciples offered to send her away, He stopped and told her that He could not help her because she was a Gentile. When she persisted, he compared her to a dog. Normally we would consider this very unchristian behavior. Yet in the case of the Canaanite woman, Jesus’ harsh responses created the right kind of environment to provoke her to stand up for what she believed in and manifest an unstoppable faith. She rose to the occasion and did just that. In the end she went home with the miracle she'd been asking for.

Another time Jesus was watching offering givers in the Temple, and noticed a widow who gave the last two copper coins she had. Instead of stopping her out of pity and arranging with the Levites to give back her money, or ensuring that she'd get a hot meal that night, Jesus turned to His disciples and commended her for her actions. Normally we’d label this behavior as fiscally irresponsible. How could He stand by and allow that poor woman to give all she had? He should have told her it was unnecessary. Richer people had given that day, and the Temple didn't need her two small coins. She should have kept the coins to buy a morsel to eat. The Bible doesn't tell us what happened to that woman, but if Jesus praised her, then God took care of her. Those two coins couldn't change her life, but giving her all to God and even going hungry for a short time as a result, had the power to move God’s hands and permanently solve her problem.

And then another day when Jesus and the twelve were on a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, He insensitively showed no empathy for His friends. A violent storm developed and the boat was about to sink and drown them all. All the while, Jesus was asleep in the stern of the boat, unconcerned about the danger His friends were in. The disciples woke Him up, asking why He didn't care that they were about to die, and He dared to ask them back why they had so little faith. How could He expect them to be calm in the middle of a storm like that? Did He really expect them to have enough faith to command the storm to stop? But at that moment, like many moments in our lives, empathy wasn't going to keep them alive or solve their problem. Jesus let them to go through the storm, and rebuked them for their lack of faith because He wanted to teach them that all along they had had the faith to overcome that storm.

Genuine faith in God and rebuking the devil manifests in many different ways. In these three examples Jesus appeared harsh, fiscally irresponsible, and devoid of empathy, attitudes that we normally don’t associate with a good Christian. But in all three cases Jesus’ attitude was exactly what was needed. We need to throw away the idea that every good Christian has to appear patient, loving and kind at all times. Yes, we need those three qualities, but ninety-five percent of the time those three attitudes acting alone simply don't cut it. Faith demands forcefulness and toughness. True faith is not always comfortable, nor is it always obvious to others that our attitudes are godly, but true faith always bring results and moves God’s hand.

Jesus said to her, “Let the children first be filled. For it is not fitting to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She answered, “Yes, Lord. Yet the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then He said to her, “For this answer, go your way. The demon has gone out of your daughter.” When she had come to her house, she found the demon had gone out, and her daughter lying on the bed.  (Mark 7:27-30  MEV)

No comments:

Post a Comment