Published on October 11th, 2019 | by Stephen Barrington0
Jesus condemns his contemporaries, Luke 7:31-35. September 18, 2019 by Buckshot
Nga mihi maioha e hoa ma, rangimarie ki a koutou katoa i tenei ata. Greetings friends, may peace be with you this morning. Our gospel text for today is from Luke 7:31-35, ‘Jesus condemns his contemporaries!’
So far this week we have read from this chapter about Jesus healing a Roman centurion’s servant and the bringing back to life of a widow’s son. These events happened in the far north of Israel, along way from Jerusalem. We have skipped over the section where John the Baptist has sent his disciples up to check Jesus out, but our text today follows straight on from the ‘John the baptist dialogue’.
“What are the children of this generation like?” Jesus begins. He answers this rhetorical question with a saying that describes childish behaviour observable almost anywhere. The children are upset because they cannot control those that they are seeking to entertain or manipulate for a certain outcome.
Today’s text is an invitation for us to mature, to grow up and be able to see beyond the surface symptoms of a situation. To be able to understand the root or substance beyond the outward appearance in front of us, plus recognise the wisdom in play.
John lived an austere life in the desert, with people thinking he was mad. Jesus came along and partied with all the wrong people, eating and drinking so much he was thought to be a drunk! What are we to make of these almost extreme differences in so called ‘Godly people’ – how can we reconcile these wildly different actions and decide what to do ourselves?
Luke gives us a clue in his last comment in this text. ‘Wisdom is justified by all her children’. This is a nod to the ancient Jewish idea that wisdom, personified in the female form of Sophia, was an outworking of the Spirit of Yahweh, the Lord. The Spirit of God acts in the world in many ways that we can never understand at the time, but with more time and information we can find ourselves going, ‘ahhh, that was good that thing did or didn’t happen like we wanted, God is truly good and his ways beyond our ways!’ Wisdom will show itself in different ways depending on all the complicated factors of a situation.
Our picture shows some of us having a drink in a bar – for some this is not a great practice due to where it may end up – but for us that type of location opens up many opportunities to engage deeply with our neighbours on the road. Today we are invited to consider all that we do in life and whether there is wisdom in the choices we make, in the habits we follow and the life we are being formed into. Following Jesus is not a black and white story with easy answers. It is an ongoing conversation of action and reflection, with God, with our travelling companions and all we meet.
So our children need to grow up and learn that God the creator is not a puppet on our strings. We are not the marionet, or the entertainer able to manipulate the free and uncontrollable God of all. Allowing God to be the free agent that She is is a scary and awe-some thought! Allowing God to act freely in our lives though is also a door way to new beginnings, to hope of things being better than we can imagine.
Coming to terms with these big ideas requires that type of faith our Centurion showed earlier in the week. May we be willing to hold our judgement on things, to dig a little deeper and discern what God may be doing in those uncomfortable things around us. May we be willing to let go of shallow answers and search for the deeper and broader truth that Jesus is calling us onto.
Some are satisfied with a free ride to heaven – but I am not. Jesus came announcing the Kingdom of God on earth which opens up the possibility that things can be radically different to what they are. Not just in my life, but the whole of creation. What could the world look like without war, child poverty, environmental destruction and industrial wastelands and my narrow mindedness? Could salvation of the world be so much more than redeemed individuals, could it be like restored communities, happy and well fed kids, clean water that we can drink and swim in and meaningful work for all who need it. Wisdom will look different in different scenarios, but the fruit, the children of Sophia will grow and bring closer the Kingdom that Jesus announced and opened the way for.
Pray for me; I have been invited to speak in a location where I see no good at all and need to wrestle to see the wisdom of God in that place. Jesus today is not making it easy for us to bottle him and sell a product or certainty. Again we are being invited further down the road, deeper into dialogue with God, with scripture, with tradition and with each other. Deeper into discerning the work of the Spirit, wrestling with what unity and diversity look like in the real world of failure, disappointment and difference.
As we do this together may Sophia, the wisdom of God, enlighten us and mature us into a fuller and broader expression and experience of God’s goodness in the world.
Buckshot – Wellington chapter, New Zealand