Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 97; 145, Daniel 4:19-27, 1 John 3:19-4:6, Luke 4:14-30
Sometimes all it takes to be a prophet is an understanding of human nature and a keen sense of irony. When Jesus began preaching in his home town of Nazareth, he knew the people in the synagogue would want the same signs he performed earlier in Capernaum. Mark’s gospel tells us the people had so little faith Jesus was able to do very little. In today’s reading from Luke, Jesus tells them “no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown.” Five verses later, they are shoving him toward a cliff.
They could have tried to be more accepting, if only to prove him wrong, right? But that’s not human nature. How many teenagers, when asked if they’ve been drinking, counter with, “If you’re going to keep accusing me I might as well!” How many spouses caught in infidelity blame the insecurities of their husband or wife? We don’t enjoy someone telling us we’re wrong, especially when we know they’re right, so we lash out at the messenger. We drink and blame our parents. Cheat and blame our spouses. Lack faith and blame our savior.
Jesus saw it coming, and so should we. Across time and geography certain truths about human nature persist. We tend to think we are more self-aware than other people, but in reality – not so much. When we’re not busy convincing ourselves we are better than we are, we may be looking at other cultures and communities as “noble savages” who are somehow exempt from the less desirable traits of humanity. Or worse, we may look at whole groups of people as more capable of corruption than we could ever be. As clichéd as it might sound, people are people.
The good news is we can be better. First, we must abandon the mindset that we are exempt from basic human nature. Second, we must honestly examine ourselves as an outsider (Jesus, maybe?) might see us. Finally, we must consciously decide to act in ways consistent with our faith, even if that action goes against our nature. Let’s step back from the cliff before it’s too late.
Comfort: God knows our nature – and our potential.
Challenge: Pray about the things that you do despite knowing better.
Prayer: God of strength, I seek your nature before my own. Amen.
Discussion: What about human nature still manages to surprise you?
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