Luke 11:27-28 (CEV)
27 While Jesus was still talking, a woman in the crowd spoke up, “The woman who gave birth to you and nursed you is blessed!”
28 Jesus replied, “That’s true, but the people who are really blessed are the ones who hear and obey God’s message!”
Hear and Obey
I want you to imagine for a minute that instead of Jesus living in first century Palestine, he was born in the 1970’s in the West somewhere.
And when he started his ministry, the buzz that developed around him wasn’t limited to word of mouth and walking distances, but quickly took to the brand new platforms of social media, like Facebook and Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.
Quotes from his talks show up on pretty backgrounds.
Before and after images show up side by side after his healings.
And his calls for justice for the widow and the oppressed are summarized in pithy 144 character Tweets.
We know what happens next.
There are more than a billion ‘likes’.
He ends up with millions of ‘followers’.
The crowds show up by the hundreds of thousands now (wonder if the loaves and fishes still stretch?) and his face and name are known by everyone around the world in a matter of months.
And then someone is interviewing him and gushes over how fantastic he is, and Jesus says, “yeah, that’s not really the point … are you going to do what I’m asking you to do?”
Jesus has, by this point in his ministry, attracted quite a lot of popularity. He’s gained quite a lot of attention. The crowds are building and people are applauding him – for healing people, for feeding people, for his wonderful teaching, for standing up to the Pharisees – and this lady who calls Jesus’ mother blessed is just another one in a long line of praise.
But Jesus shrugs it off.
Popularity was never his point.
He doesn’t need people to tell him he’s clever or strong or miraculous or just or holy or anything else. (Those things simply are – Jesus’ ego doesn’t need to hear about it from the crowds.)
What he wants – what he’s come for – is for people to hear about this new Kingdom way of living, and then go out and do life differently!
We can’t simply ‘like’, ‘retweet’ and ‘share’ our way to the Kingdom.
Increases in ‘followers’ alone won’t bring the Kingdom any closer.
Having his words ‘go viral’ really won’t do much for taking injustice and turning it into justice; taking fear and transforming it into love; taking destruction and bringing about shalom.
The only way that any of these things will change is if we decide to actually put ourselves out there and give it a try.
When we do, we might find out that the homeless have somewhere to call home; that the refugee has safe passage; that reconciliation can take place between warring nations; that child sex slavery can be irradicated; that global warming can be reversed. We might find that marriages can be saved; that children can be honest with their parents; that people can be still and know that they are loved and cherished, and that their lives matter to God, and that they have a purpose and a role in this Kingdom-coming project that Jesus has brought to share.
- How do we get from ‘like’ and ‘follow’ to ‘transformed’?
- What part of the Kingdom story do you feel most passionate about?
- How are you already leaning into that story?
- So often we assume that we don’t have the charisma/time/resources/knowledge/etc. to make a difference in the Kingdom. We assume that Kingdom-living, Kingdom-transforming work is for people who have it all together, or are further along in … well … something than we are. But I heard this fantastic line the other day, that I think makes a difference to how we get started in all of this: “What’s in your hands and who’s in your circle?” In other words, what do you already have that you could offer to this Kingdom story? And who do you already know that you could partner with today to be a little more fully a part of this Kingdom story?