Even Joy, in Disbelief

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S (Scripture): Mark 8:14 Jesus’ disciples had forgotten to bring any bread, so they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 He gave them strict orders: “Watch out and be on your guard for the yeast of the Pharisees as well as the yeast of Herod.”

16 The disciples discussed this among themselves, “He said this because we have no bread.”

17 Jesus knew what they were discussing and said, “Why are you talking about the fact that you don’t have any bread? Don’t you grasp what has happened? Don’t you understand? Are your hearts so resistant to what God is doing? 18  Don’t you have eyes? Why can’t you see? Don’t you have ears? Why can’t you hear? Don’t you remember? 19  When I broke five loaves of bread for those five thousand people, how many baskets full of leftovers did you gather?”

They answered, “Twelve.”

20 “And when I broke seven loaves of bread for those four thousand people, how many baskets full of leftovers did you gather?”

They answered, “Seven.”

21 Jesus said to them, “And you still don’t understand?”

O (Observation): The disciples just witnessed Jesus feeding 5,000 and 4,000. Now they are headed off to other ministries…but when they got on the boat they only had 1 loaf of bread.

<Puts on sarcastic face on and drones on in sarcastic tone:>

Whatever would they do!

<shakes head>

Not only do the disciples not put 2 and 2 together…they are now like the Pharisees…not understanding that God is doing a work through Jesus. That God is bringing heaven to earth. Each are blinded in their own way.

A (Application): How many times have we witnessed or experienced God’s presence? And yet, when times get tough…we still doubt.

Does that mean we are terrible Christians? Absolutely not! We are like the Pharisees and we are like the disciples, both groups failing to completely understand what God is up to.

Perhaps part of our unbelieving is that we just can’t comprehend how magnificent our God is. Sometimes, when we are beaten down by this world, we think God has forgotten about us. Or worse, when the Church beats people down, we fail at carrying the grace-filled mysteries of our great God.

Let us repent so that our lack of faith may be acknowledged. Let us repent, so that God may fill our broken and contrite hearts. That we might somehow experience joy in the midst of our unbelief.

And then, let us take action to respond to care for those who are pushed to the margins and be grace and hope for them…even in our imperfect nature.

P (Prayer): Lord, make me whole. Amen.

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Homeostasis – the Force is Strong With This One

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S (Scripture): Matthew 13:53 When Jesus finished these parables, he departed. 54 When he came to his hometown, he taught the people in their synagogue. They were surprised and said, “Where did he get this wisdom? Where did he get the power to work miracles? 55 Isn’t he the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother named Mary? Aren’t James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas his brothers? 56 And his sisters, aren’t they here with us? Where did this man get all this?” 57 They were repulsed by him and fell into sin.

But Jesus said to them, “Prophets are honored everywhere except in their own hometowns and in their own households.” 58 He was unable to do many miracles there because of their disbelief.

O (Observation): Wow! Stubborn disbelief. So much so that Jesus was unable to do many miracles there. Yikes!

That’s pretty powerful stuff, right there.

And Jesus kind of recognizes that they will not likely believe in him, precisely because they knew him before his baptism and ministry began.

They say, “We knew him when…”. And because of this, they can’t see the possibility that Jesus is the Son of God. His parents are Mary and Joseph, right? Don’t we know his sisters and brothers? What makes Jesus so special?

A (Application): Ever tried to disagree with someone at a family reunion? Ever tried to buck a trend in your place of business? Ever tried to steer away from a family tradition?

Talk about difficult! “This is how we do things.” “This is the way we’ve always done it.” Phrases like this are either spoken or unspoken, but implicit in the language and the reactions of the people around you. Even if the reaction is subconscious. Heck, I’ve been guilty of this, too! I’ve given a visceral reaction when a change is suggested. It happens to all of us…

I’ve had times where I agreed with the proposed change or agreed with a dissenting opinion, but my body language or a look on my face defied that suggestion. It’s a little thing we call homeostasis – a force exists that pulls us back to the way things are. And that force is strong!

(The term “homeostasis” is usually used in discussions of biology, and we need homeostasis in some things…like a level body temperature and such…but in terms of behavior, homeostasis can be a stumbling block.)

So…Jesus faces this force of “oh, that’s just Mary and Joseph’s son. He’s not the Son of God. Surely he can’t perform miracles.” And with that kind of attitude, a stubbornness borne out of doubt…and sure enough, Jesus can’t perform the miracles…or maybe they just blinded themselves to this possibility of these miracles.

This is a good warning for me. To be vigilant for times when God is on the move in the systems of which I am a part. A church goer, a family member, a co-worker who makes a suggestion to keep things as-is or change things to something new…maybe we can move away from the knee jerk reaction and focus on what God is saying to us in that moment. We can do that in our own minds or share with one another this tension that is rising. Name the thing that is in the room causing tension. And being brave enough to speak out. You never know who else may be thinking the same thought as you. But if no one speaks up, an opportunity may be lost.

Speak out. Let your concern or idea be heard. Let God guide the conversation.

P (Prayer): Lord, pull us beyond the force of homeostasis to be able to listen and appreciate all voices in the room…of the raw and uneducated, of the wise and sophisticated. Amen.