Reflections of a Broken Man

“You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” by StephenMac
January 14, 2009, 11:05 am
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , , ,

*currently streaming “Riot!” off the Paramore website… We Are Broken is a fantastic song*

“You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Mark 8:33

So I am currently trying to get on top of my sermon for this Sunday, and the more you read a passage, the more it impacts you. Yea, I know… why am I blogging instead of sermonising? I wanted to clarify and share some thoughts…

What do the things of God look like?

34Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

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Here is love: here is the care and selflessness that is required of all Christians. The absolute trust to devote everything to the God who provides all. To deny yourself, to stop putting your worries/fears/concerns/priorities first, and start putting God’s there. A harsh rebuke… a challenging application. It hurts: to be able to pray with all conviction and honesty “Yet not as I will, but as You will.

I am preaching this to my congregation, and yet it has to apply to myself first… it hurts.

(h/t CreativeMYK for pic… poorly edited)


A Question of Blindness by StephenMac
November 11, 2008, 7:24 am
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , , ,

**Currently listening to “Define the Great Line” – Underoath. I think the opening words of “In Regards to Myself” (Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!) seem somehow appropriate**

I’m currently “studying” for my NT exam on Wed, and I’ve been struck by some of the themes in Mark. When we started the year, our lecturer proposed the theory that Mark is actually a literary narrative (as opposed to a history or a biography). And so NT class felt very much like an English class (perhaps the reason for my initial dislike). However, upon reflection, I’ve found simply the depth of Mark’s narrative to be especially challenging and hopeful. Let me explain:

In Mark, we have I think a distinct structure. There are two halves, with the “turning point” being Peter’s confession of Christ in 8:27-30. Within the first half, the characters seem to ask “Who is this” (or variations on that theme) in response to Jesus’ actions/teaching. By chapter 4, Jesus calms the storm, and there are three questions which set up the rest of the narrative, but more than that, are the three big questions of the Gospel. The first is the panic of the disciples “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”. The second is posed by Jesus “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”. The third is again by the disciples “Who is this?”

These three questions seem to drive the whole story. But it seems as though the disciples need the first one answered before they could even comprehend the others. And so after a little while, we come to the second sea story, where Jesus walks on water. The language there reminds us distinctly of the LORD “passing by” Moses on Sinai, and Jesus’ reassurance of “I am” (ἐγω ἐιμι) seems to point distinctly to Jesus’ divinity. And yet, the disciples still do not see it. The final sea journey occurs after the feeding of the 4000. Jesus overhears the conversation of the disciples, and chastises them for still getting him wrong. All the miracles, they point to who he is, and yet Jesus still must ask them “Do you still not understand?”face-eye copy

However, I think that the key miracle is in the very next episode. Jesus heals a man of blindness, and yet, it takes two goes. The first time, the man can see, yet it’s nothing more than shapes. The second time, he sees in full. The reader must then ask, well, if Jesus can heal this man of blindness, can he heal the disciples of their blindness too? Upon Peter’s confession of faith, we hope that the blindness has been healed. But Peter still does not fully understand, he sees, but only in part. He rebukes Jesus for his prediction that he must die. Jesus in turn rebukes Peter for thinking on the ways of man, and not of God.

For the second half of the the book of Mark, we therefore have an expectation. Sure, we know now that Jesus is the Christ, as Peter’s blindness has been partially healed. The disciples question “Who is this” is almost answered… And so the second half of the book is bound up with this question, perhaps characterised by the disciples’ first question: “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” What does it mean for Jesus to be the Christ? Well, as the story continues, we see that the Christ must die, so that man may not, so that man may not be punished for his sins, a punishment he so justly deserves. Jesus dies, so that we don’t have to. This is what it means for Jesus to be the Christ. In doing so, Jesus answers the question of “Don’t you care if we drown?” with an emphatic “YES! I do care. I care so much that I would die so that you don’t have to!”

While this post is in part a way for me to think about Mark, and to reaffirm the truth’s of Christ, I ask myself, am I as blind as the disciples? Not in regards to Jesus, but in terms of seeing people for what they are (perhaps a poor application point, but hey, I’m not preaching to you). Yesterday, I had a revelation about a friend which seriously struck me. I had no idea where they were at… and when I found out, well, I couldn’t believe I was so blind. There are a number of other relationships where I still can’t see what’s going on. And it scares me, because like the disciples, I may be missing something, and that something is really really important. Other times, that something could be trivial. Yet I have to ask, if I am so blind in answering the question “Who is this”, then when it comes to the important things, how can I be a good friend?

I think the other point of reflection is that there are some things that force me to crawl out of my own self-induced depression, to see the world how it truly is. To see that life is bigger than me, to see that my problems (aka exams, relationships etc etc) are seriously pitiful when they compare to some of the needs other friends have. Am I so blind that I can’t look beyond myself?