Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Just at this time some Pharisees came up. 'Go away,' they said. 'Leave this place, because Herod means to kill you.' He replied, 'You may go and give that fox this message: Look! Today and tomorrow I drive out devils and heal, and on the third day I attain my end.Reflection
Anyone who expects a smooth path hasn’t lived much. Everyone has stuff, stuff to carry, stuff that gets in the way, stuff we could do without.
To speak plainly, there is resistance to what God’s Spirit requires in every life. Some resistances are internal; many are the temptations and fears that keep us from truly being ourselves and fulfilling the hope of our hearts, living out who we are created to be.
Some resistances are external--the attitudes of others, the refusals of our gifts and ideas, the people and situations that don’t change or stand aside so we can move forward with the hopes we have, the missions of grace calling within us.
Years ago, I served as editor of our church’s national magazine. Coming into that office, I wanted to change the culture of the publication to make it easier for staff members to suggest and act on their ideas.
Everyone welcomed the idea, but change was hard. The gravity of established patterns and internalized habits kept us in familiar ruts. It took concerted effort over a long period of time to overcome internal and external resistance before much happened.
Resistance to the good, the true, the beautiful--to the work of God’s Spirit--is not hard to see or find. It is deeply rooted in human egoism, in the desire for comfort and human anxiety to hold onto what power and influence one has. Change is fearful.
Jesus brought the ultimate good and final grace of God’s kingdom. He healed and crossed the boundaries that excluded people from entering the inner circle of God’s love. He made the broken whole and drove out the forces that disfigure human life.
But he encountered resistance almost every step of the way. He was a threat to those in power because he acted with a power they didn’t have and could not understand, a power that was for others not over others, a power that was for all people … not just for a favored few.
So resistance came from those he threatened, from rulers and religious leaders who immediately knew he didn’t fit into their way of living and thinking--and that he didn’t much care about preserving their privileges.
Others resisted because it was just too good to be true. Can God’s kingdom, God’s rule really be for me? And if it is, am I willing to let it change me, how I think and feel, what I do and risk?
Resistance came, too, from within, even for Jesus, who was subject to the same human fears that we all have--fears of suffering, rejection, loneliness, and I suspect there were moments when he may have wondered if what he was doing was truly God’s will.
In each case, he retreated to prayer and then moved forward, having found in his prayer reinforcement of his identity as God’s beloved. He found the assurance needed to stay his course, to reveal God’s kingdom … to share the soul of God within him.
His way is the way to which we are called. Not an easy path, but the path the Spirit writes inside each human soul. Only in listening closely to the heart of God within can we find … again and again … the strength needed to walk the path of grace when resistance comes.
Pr. David L. Miller