This is my second Lent blog post which also appears on the gathering facebook page for discussion.
The second chapter of the book looks at the urgent and patient. It looks at how vision takes time to develop. Interestingly it points out that Jesus spent the first 30 years of his ministry waiting … immersing himself in the life and experience of a carpenter in Nazareth. So … when God becomes human of all the things to do … God chooses to live as a carpenter in some chav town for 30 whole years before starting to do anything! Jesus spends around 90% of his earthly life being with people, and being present with some of the most marginalised and oppressed people in the earth.
I love this quote from Sam Wells:
‘Jesus spent a week in Jerusalem working for us, doing what we can’t do, achieving our salvation … He spent three years in Galilee working with us, calling us to follow him and work alongside him … But before he ever got into working with and working for, he spent 30 years in Nazareth being with us, setting aside his plans and strategies, and experiencing in his own body not just the exile and oppression of the children of Israel, but also the joy and sorrow of family and community life’
This waiting thing has been crucial to my ministry …. and I am totally sold out on that Jesus model of ‘getting under the skin’ of the community so that I am really able to work with people to see transformation in this town of Gillingham … rather than merely copy the mistakes of the past when well meaning people decided they knew what was needed and simply ended up doing things to the community. I really believe that for any action to be authentic that it needs to be born in the cradle of this type of incarnational experience, immersed in the life and experiences of the area.
The passage used in this chapter is the passage I was asked to preach on at St marks on Sunday night. I shared on Sunday that in this particular bible passage that I thought Jesus was being tested to take the easy route by satan as he challenged his identity. A few words before this story Jesus is baptised and God confirms how he is … and in this next chapter we see satan asking 3 question ‘if’ questions. If you are … if you are … if you are … I think what we are seeing here is a pretty clever attempt at some form of identity theft!
In all of these I think I see an underlying message …. without this help I cannot achieve my calling, without this I am hungry, without this I don’t have the access, without this I can’t win ….. without this …. I’m not good enough!
That is so amazingly relevant for us today … because we are constantly bombarded with adverts that deliberately and cruelly aim to get us to believe that we are not good enough while they play on our insecurities of inadequacy so that we really do start to believe that if I wear this deodorant, or drive that car, or use this makeup, or wear this clothing brand, or eat this yoghurt, or of I go on this diet that then …. I will … at last ….. thankfully become acceptable!
It’s rubbish! This message of our culture is just so horribly evil: it’s evil because it says you are never enough. Not skinny enough, smart enough, pretty enough, strong enough, rich enough … and because you are never enough …. then you never deserve respect, love, or acceptance.
I mentioned that instead of giving in to those lies, Jesus chooses to return to and believe the words of God at his baptism at the end of the previous chapter… that he is beloved and well pleased with!
And so … I believe if we learn anything from this account about how to live out our lives, how to trust our creator, then it is to be found in returning to God and trusting that from God we will receive the ability and strength to help us.
I wonder, whether this Lent time we need to start to give up our false images of ourselves. Images that with each breath tell us … we are not good enough, we are not acceptable, we are not loved. Images that doubt that ‘well pleased and loved’ view of God.
So … gathering , and others, discuss …..