Not Against Us

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab / window):
Psalms 119:73-80; 145, Exodus 4:10-20 (21-26) 27-31, 1 Corinthians 14:1-19, Mark 9:30-41


The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. claimed the most segregated hour in America was 11:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. Our chosen church communities tend to resemble us racially, politically, and economically. It’s comfortable and easy to be with people “like us” and erect tall walls on a foundation of small differences. However, comfortable and easy are not Christian virtues. Today’s readings contain lessons about being in community with people different from ourselves.

In Exodus 4, Moses meets his brother Aaron. Together they deliver the Lord’s message to the Hebrews. Moses was raised Egyptian, spent forty years living as a Midianite, and was slow of speech (possibly due to a speech impediment). Aaron was of the priestly Levite class of Hebrews and quite eloquent. Together they represented an effective marriage of substance and style.

In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul addresses the importance of the spiritual gifts of prophecy, speaking in tongues, and interpretation. While emphasizing the need for prophecy (defined not so much as making predictions but as speaking words of encouragement, rebuke, and consolation from God), he also asks the question: what good is speaking in tongues if no one understands? Without interpretation, a person gifted with tongues does not build up the community, and without something to interpret, a person so gifted doesn’t bring much to the table.

When the disciples complained about people who were casting out demons in Jesus’s name, yet were not following them, Jesus told them: “Whoever is not against us is for us.” He knew the common goal of spreading the good news overrode petty differences.

Insisting on our specific way merely protects our egos when other gifts and perspectives make us feel insecure about our own. When we build or join a community, do we seek those whose strengths and weaknesses complement our own? If a church wants to tackle poverty, but is mostly a lot of rich people deciding what’s best for “the poor” without knowing or even asking them, how effective can it be? A team of co-workers who all share the same perspective rarely create innovative solutions. Our diversity was not created to be a source of jealousy or conflict, but to help us help each other.

Comfort: Your weaknesses are an opportunity to appreciate someone else’s strengths.

Challenge: Make a point of attending a church service or social event with people you normally don’t interact with.

Prayer: Thank you, Creator God, for the great diversity of life. Teach me to appreciate the beauty in the abundant shapes and thoughts of your world. I praise your holy vision and creativity. Amen.

Discussion: In what areas of your life do you seek like company? Are these areas where it might make sense to diversify your community?

Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll be notified of new posts through FB, and have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!

Fool Me

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 34; 146, Genesis 37:12-24, 1 Corinthians 1:20-31, Mark 1:14-28


We train our children not to trust strangers, especially ones promising treats. As adults we try to follow our own advice. We are skeptical of offers that sound “too good to be true.” Most of us don’t hitchhike or pick up hitchhikers. We lock up our homes, cars, and jewelry. Given the nature of the world, all these precautions are wise.

On the other hand, we still like our quick fixes and easy assurances. Proof lies in the bank accounts and hypocrisy of televangelists, politicians, snake oil salesmen, and home shopping gurus. Headline after headline reminds us we entrust them with far too much of our faith and money.

What then are we to make of fishermen who “immediately” dropped everything to follow Jesus, as Mark tells us, simply because he asked them to? In hindsight we support the decision, but what about anyone who abandoned her or his life today to follow someone promising to make them “day traders of men?” Do the words “cult” and “deprogram” come to mind? Were the first disciples wise people or lucky fools?

The difference between wisdom and foolishness is a tough call. Because God’s values are upside down compared to the world’s values, we are constantly called to evaluate our decisions, and sometimes to act in ways others would consider foolish. For example, how many of use are willing to decrease our standard of living – move into a smaller house, drive a cheaper car, or take a lower paying job – to spend more money or time on the poor? Very few, and they are often judged with humor at best and cynicism at worst. The world tells us this is foolishness, yet it is freedom.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul tells us God makes the foolish wise and the wise foolish. Let’s not get cocky about which side of that equation we land on. Determining whether a path is right or merely attractive can take serious discernment. We want to follow Jesus urgently, but we want to be sure the path we choose truly leads to him. Let’s choose our guides with Godly wisdom and worldly foolishness.

Comfort: Your choices are between you and God.

Challenge: “Foolishly” critique your own opinion on a controversial issue.

Prayer: God of wisdom, bless me with your foolishness.

Discussion: Have you ever felt like a fool for Christ? When and why?

Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll be notified of new posts through FB, and have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!