Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Do You Have to be a Little Crazy to Preach the Gospel?

In our readings Mark (Mark 3:20-35) reveals that Jesus is precisely what the religious authorities don't expect. They have no idea what to make of him. He doesn't meet their expectations, and what doesn't fit our expectations we typically label abnormal, or deviant, or crazy, or possessed. They are “outsiders.” We assume that what we know and have experienced becomes the standard by which we measure – and judge – the thoughts and actions of others.

Religion was established to regulate our relationship with God. The root of the word itself comes from the Latin ligare, to bind, which supplies the roots of the words "ligament" (tissue that binds together) and "obligation" (the duties to which one is bound). Religion, then, most often serves to connect us again to God by specifying what actions, duties, and obligations we should undertake out of reverence to God. On one level there's something absolutely right about this. Religion offers us a way to structure our thinking about God and relationship with God. It gives us forms by which to express our grateful response to all of God's activity. The trouble arises, however, when we allow our religion to become a substitute for a genuine, living relationship with God. We do this when we use religion not just to offer structures that facilitate our relationship, but actually to manage and control that relationship or, worse, to manage and control God.

This is why Jesus sets himself against all the powers that would rob humanity and creation of the abundant life God intends – whether those powers be unclean spirits; disease that ravages the mind, body or spirit; illness that isolates and separates those who suffer from community; or whatever. Jesus introduces a new vision of God and a new way to relate to God...and it's not what any of those…make that any of us – religious folk would expect. (David Lose, Marbury E. Anderson Biblical Preaching Chair, Luther Seminary St. Paul, MN)


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