The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Get Me Out of This… Not!

with 6 comments

"Boy howdy!" as my friend Georgann says. Watching Jesus gives you to some amazing sights!

I want my faith to be about knowing and becoming like Jesus rather than acting religious. And in these examples, the difference between Jesus and religion is breath-taking.

What comes to your mind as you imagine these interactions? You'll bump into some of mine along the way.

John 12:20-33
A Grain of Wheat Must Die

20There were some Greeks in town who had come up to worship at the Feast. 21They approached Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee: "Sir, we want to see Jesus. Can you help us?"

22Philip went and told Andrew. Andrew and Philip together told Jesus. 23Jesus answered, "Time's up. The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

Huh? What kind of an answer is that?

24"Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. 25In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life.

Reminds me of admiring a lily in bloom and yanking it up by the roots to take it home.

But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal. 26"If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you'll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment's notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me.

27"Right now I am storm-tossed. And what am I going to say? "Father, get me out of this'? No, this is why I came in the first place. 28I'll say, "Father, put your glory on display.'"

My, oh, my! Could it be that when I find myself in a mess, "Get me out of this!" might not be the brightest path? Could it be that there, in the mess, is where God hopes to place a servant who will display his glory? If God healed all his followers' messes, how would the world ever know what God in humans-under-pressure looks like?

Could it be that the mess of the moment is the Providential answer to my "Use me, Lord!" prayers? And that learning to live in his glory, now, this moment, in whatever is happening around me is "why I [am here] in the first place"?

I'm reminded of Joan Chittister's comment in Illuminated Life: Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of Light:

To the contemplative, faith is not about having lights turn green before we get to the stop light at the corner or even about having cancerous tumors disappear on command. . . . Having the faith to take life one piece at a time – to live it in the knowledge that there is something of God in this for me now, here, at this moment – is of the essence of happiness. . . *

Happiness! Perhaps, in other words, happiness comes not from "Get me out of this!" but realizing "This is why I am here."

A voice came out of the sky: "I have glorified it, and I'll glorify it again." 29The listening crowd said, "Thunder!" Others said, "An angel spoke to him!"

Immense and omnipotent, God speaks. Humans respond from the depths of their spiritual perception:

"Think it'll rain?"

I love it!

30Jesus said, "The voice didn't come for me but for you. 31At this moment the world is in crisis. Now Satan, the ruler of this world, will be thrown out. 32And I, as I am lifted up from the earth, will attract everyone to me and gather them around me." 33He put it this way to show how he was going to be put to death.

And once again, the lectionary writers give us a beautifully connected epistle passage:

Hebrews 5:5-10

5Neither did Christ presume to set himself up as high priest, but was set apart by the One who said to him, "You're my Son; today I celebrate you!" 6In another place God declares, "You're a priest forever in the royal order of Melchizedek."

7While he lived on earth, anticipating death, Jesus cried out in pain and wept in sorrow as he offered up priestly prayers to God. Because he honored God, God answered him. 8Though he was God's Son, he learned trusting-obedience by what he suffered, just as we do. 9Then, having arrived at the full stature of his maturity . . .

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Jesus learned trusting-obedience? He grew in maturity?

I have often caught myself thinking "Well, sure, it was easy for him, he was God, after all!" Perhaps it was no easier for him than for me!

And check this out – he learned trust/obedience by what he suffered and (worse yet!) just like we do. Sounds like those messes I was talking about up in John are exactly what I need. Guess it challenges what I really want, doesn't it? Do I want to grow up into Christ, even if it means never getting my problem fixed? Eeeyow. This is not religion!

and having been announced by God as high priest in the order of Melchizedek, 10he became the source of eternal salvation to all who believingly obey him.

So, how's it strike you? Click on "Comments" just below, to see what others have thought and to leave a snippet of your own. Great, immeasureable, wonderful – isn't it?
The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

* Illuminated Life: Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of Light by Joan Chittister, pages 48 and 47. Published by Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York. Highly recommended!

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Written by Monte

March 29, 2006 at 9:39 pm

6 Responses

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  1. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Last Saturday and Sunday, the Holy Spirit was speaking to me about giving Him all of my “ambitions, hopes and plans.” I got out my CD and played “Jesus, All for Jesus.” It seemed to help solidfy it for me. But it has been a hugely challenging week, to leave it all in His capable hands. There is no place else I want it to be, but I am tempted to drift into my worry pit.

    Like you, I tend to think it must have been easier somehow for Jesus, because yes, He was God incarnate. But yes, the Word says “he learned trusting-obedience by what he suffered, just as we do.” Maybe, since he was tempted in every way, as we are, he was also tempted to jump into a worry pit. And, since he is my example, and he shows me the way, I, too, can learn trusting-obedience and utter peace.

    He is so remarkably patient with me. Through this week, he has been reminding again that “this IS the way” this challenge is the way I grow up in Christ.

    So, I’m looking forward to singing “Jesus, All for Jesus” and hearing what you have to say. And, I’ll confess, I’m kinda glad you’re not going to preach in a Grim Reaper costume!


    April 1, 2006 at 10:08 pm

  2. Hey, Timbabwe! So good to hear from you!
    “not to deliver us from harm but to deliver our hearts” – that’s well said – thanks! I’m thinking about preaching in a grim reaper costume tomorrow, to emphasize that the Easter story still does have a death in it! And that the one who died said, “Follow me!” But it seems almost arrogant to ask it of others when catching a glimpse of the cross myself. As the old song says, “He fixed his languid eyes on me …”


    April 1, 2006 at 5:15 pm

  3. That’s exactly it, Monte…and that is the hard part of obedience…I also like how the old Testament passage ties in and how it is through the new covenant that Jesus came to establish not to deliver us from all harm but to deliver our hearts, our soul, our essence to freedom….to be able to have His Word, His will impressed in our hearts…it’s exactly what the people did not want…true intamacy with God and that is what He wanted for us at the base of the mountain with Moses…but we always seem to want the desert instead.


    March 31, 2006 at 6:37 pm

  4. Amy: Could, perhaps, the path to the highest good – whether desert or healing – lie in “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done”?


    March 30, 2006 at 9:55 am

  5. Oh, and I love your ruminations here. It’s so good to take of the religious glasses and see what an odd bird Jesus was. I want to be an odd bird too! :)


    March 30, 2006 at 8:31 am

  6. Interesting that Joan C. spoke of cancer lumps. We recently had a friend whose lump did disappear. Is there a danger in the contemplative to settle for less sometimes, to always expect the desert, to always expect the red light to remain? Just a thought I’ve been ruminating on.


    March 30, 2006 at 8:29 am

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