This coming Sunday (Sept 30) the Middle Zone kids will be exploring the Gospel of Mark 9:37-50. You can read it here: http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=215842840.
There are two scenes in this episode in the life and times of Jesus the Preacher of the Dream of God (Mark 1: )we see Jesus the pastor and then preacher in action. (I’m not going to talk about Jesus the preacher in this post, I’ll save that for later!)
The first scene, where Jesus is pastor, is comical really, in the way that great comedy points through humour to a deep truth. He’s making headway teaching the disciples about this upside down dream of God where the last are celebrated, and the little people are treated like kings, he’s teaching them that the sick and old and young are not to be cast aside – as happens in a kingdom where the human is valued only for her or his capacity to produce or work. He’s sent them off to ‘live the dream’ – to heal the sick, to welcome the outcast, and he’s probably sighing contentedly, only to have that interrupted by John, who comes rushing up to him in a tizzy.
“Hey, Jesus, there’s this man who’s doing kingdom work, only he isn’t wearing your logo! You’ve got to tell him to stop!!” Jesus’ answer is what we’d expect: ” Why would you stop someone doing good in the world, just because they are not ‘one of us’?” We get the wisdom, we get the consistency of message…. but do we really? It got me thinking about how I have tended to criticize certain global outreach organizations because they don’t share my theology…..and of the tendency to assume that the Seminary I was teaching at was the only one that could do the job right…… and of the possibility that we might think that the Gospel is really only happening where ‘we’ are, and not where ‘those others’ are.
You see where this is taking me? It’s all too easy to want to see our way astheway. But when we do, what do we lose? We lose a sense of the expansiveness of this dream of God, we lose a sense of the possibilities of it actually making a difference if we share the dream with people who dream it slightly differently. We lose a sense of being part of a much larger movement for healing wholeness than can possibly be contained in our tiny corner of the world. We lose the ground for hope.
Why did I say Jesus was “pastor” in this incident? Because his response to John was truthful and challenging, but the way he offered truth and challenge was also empowering and encouraging. Jesus opened up for John a broader, more hopeful disposition to the world, and that, at heart, is the ‘role’ of the pastor. To point to the dream of God and invite others to become part of it in ways that enrich their own lives, as well as the life of the world.
Thank you Jesus, for reminding me.