Readings for the Second Sunday in Lent: http://lectionarypage.net/YearB_RCL/Lent/BLent2_RCL.html
Have you ever gotten in a conversation with someone and realize a just a few sentences in that y’all are talking about different things? I think we all know the awkwardness of the realization that not only are you on different pages but not even in the same book.
Communication involves at a minimum two human beings who each bring a unique and complex point of view to any conversation that shape and interpret the words heard and spoken (and yes, written), along with the context, the background, the relationship, and expectations of and in which the communication takes place. Good communication is hard work. It helps if we speak plainly.
Jesus talked openly and plainly1 with his disciples about the suffering he would endure. And Peter, who had just before this proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah, scolds Jesus for talking about suffering and such things. Jesus’ words, even taken within the context of his ministry, did not match up with Peter’s expectations of the situation.
Jesus’ words made Peter uncomfortable and fearful. Instead of voicing his uncertainty and asking Jesus to help him understand, Peter tries to rewrite the narrative to one that fits Peter’s ideal worldview.
And just as plainly as he stated his suffering, Jesus tells Peter he is wrong in his thinking. Trying to rewrite God’s plan isn’t just a simple misstep, it is not of God at all. Jesus very plainly tells Peter that he is denying God’s purpose and plan and therefore denying God.
And to ensure the disciples get the point, Jesus calls the crowds back together and explains that to follow him means to completely, COMPLETELY change our worldview to a kingdom view. Following Jesus isn’t a part-time gig or a hobby but LIFE. It isn’t something we do, it is who we are.
We can try our best to pick and choose where we “let God in” but all we are really doing when we say God isn’t a part of my work or my finances or my hobbies or my daily tasks, habits, behaviors, and interactions with others is fooling ourselves. We have not listened to what Jesus says within a kingdom context and we’ve set our own worldview expectations on how we prefer Jesus to be involved in our life.
Let’s be honest, we are not powerful enough to keep God out of anything. We cannot control where God is. We can only chose to ignore God’s presence and therefor deny ourselves the abundance of life God intends for us.
The message Jesus wants us to hear is God’s message of love and life. Jesus brings us life as God intends it for us, not the upside down, mixed up version of the world. As we follow Jesus we learn to set aside our expectations (this is the denying ourselves Jesus speaks of – see the Why Lent post for more) and see life in the context of God’s kingdom. We learn to step into God’s story rather than trying to fit God into ours.
Jesus speaks love to us plainly. Our merciful and loving God God comes to us where we are as we are with a transforming love that desires the best for us so that we can be the whole and holy person God created each of us to be.
Said plainly: The Jesus life is the life worth living. Amen.
1 The New Revised Standard Version (linked above) says Jesus spoke “openly”. The Common English Bible says Jesus spoke “plainly.” and The Message says that Jesus spoke, “simply and clearly so they couldn’t miss it.”