“…and they brought to him all who were sick and implored him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.” –Matthew 14:34-35
“For the sake of your tradition, you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites.” –Matthew 15:6
When I passively blaze through the Gospels that I have come to know so well, I instinctively scoff at the pharisees. For people who knew the prophets so well, they were so blind to the Word made flesh in front of their eyes. How could they miss the living God living out the words they had spent a lifetime memorizing?
Yet, for the past few weeks in my daily reading, an eery self-analysis has arisen: I actually wonder if I would have been one of the doubters, married to a pharisee. I think I may have been standing there to throw a stone at the women caught in adultery. I think I may have been annoyed at watching miracles take place over which I had no control. I think I would have doubted the guy who others claimed was the Messiah. I think I would have been in the crowd yelling to crucify the man who had caused such an uproar in the way my people and I do life.
If Jesus were alive right now, would I believe it?
I think I would have been that then because that’s who I often am now.
Can you imagine hearing on the local news that a guy in WeHo, who claimed to be homeless, was healing sick people? That this person had a cult-like following, and that people claimed even the clothes he wore had power to heal disease. I can imagine the wealthy donors at Hoag Medical Center and the people who had spent ten years learning to be neurosurgeons wouldn’t be too thrilled. I can picture myself laughing at the news report, and changing the station. People will say anything for attention.
I can imagine sitting in 7PM Sunday service, and a woman running in: “He’s here! He’s in Orange County. He’s on the beach now talking to hundreds of people, the blind can see and the lame are walking. He laid hands on the crazy guy who sits on the corner of PCH and 19th , and he isn’t crazy any more! Get out of the pews! Come hear him. He even healed my daughter’s epilepsy.”
Who does this man think he is? If he really does have the power of the Lord on him, why doesn’t he come to church? Why is he letting other people disrupt our worship service—I thought he was a God of order? Imagine the desperate people trying to find parking in Newport Beach: what a joke. It’s California: we have enough crackheads and broken families and drugged up high schoolers looking for the next Charles Manson. Guess we are seeing the forming of a new Scientology-type religion. Pity. If they knew truth and understood God like I do, they wouldn’t be so prone to fads.
Where does this leave me?
Ok, Tiffany? Really. You dare scoff at the pharisees when you yourself can’t recognize the words of Christ already spoken: that we will do greater things than Him? That we too are to lay hands and heal the sick, to take care of the widows, the orphans, to bind up the broken hearted, and to bring freedom to captives. That Christ in each of us is the hope of glory?
I am learning in my faith to recognize my doubts. To see where I live by expectation, and not by faith. To see where my own day to day walk has limited an infinite God. To let go of my agendas and neatly constructed boxes.
I do not want my understanding and knowledge to be the things that keep me from seeing the living God! That’s religion. That’s a pharisee. It’s fear. Hypocrisy. Tradition.
The God I serve and know was as much the God of Jacob as he was of Isaac and Abraham. It means God wasn’t looking for Jacob to walk in his grandfather’s traditions or understanding of faith. God was looking for Jacob to come to his own faith: fresh, new, living and breathing.
Changing my Posture.
In the last few days, my prayer has been for my eyes to open to the woman behind the cash register at Trader Joe’s, for my life to be interruptible. I pray that I remember to be more than a Sunday consumer of the Word with an amazing group of Christian friends. That I would be just as willing to stop driving, and offer food to the homeless. I am praying for courage to be less pretentious: to be willing to be the person who walks in so much faith that people know me for my love of the Lord…and maybe that even the hem on my pants will be oozing with the kind of faith and love that has people reaching out.
I pray for courage to break my agenda. To actually make room in a very ordinary and busy routine for the Lord to show up and be Himself: extravagant, extraordinary, spontaneous in action and steadfast in love. For my faith to be undignified, confusing, and repulsive to the snobbier side of me.
Is there room in your life for God to really surprise you? Is there room in your menial daily task for the Lord to interrupt you? Where are you waiting for Him in buildings while He’s asking you to go out on the street?