I’ve been feeling really challenged by a sermon that one of our Pastors preached last Sunday on Mark 6:1-6:
Jesus returns to his tiny home town of Nazareth, and he’s rejected by the people who should have known him best. He’s the Son of God, but he doesn’t do the things they expect and he refuses to fit into their mould, so they’re offended, and they miss out on his blessings.
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.
They ignore his incredible miracles, and continue to measure him by their own stunted standards. He’s the village carpenter, he doesn’t have a rabbi’s training, and they know his mother and brothers! There is no room in their minds for anything different, any greater wisdom, or trust.
It would have been easy for me to let myself off at this point. I’m a Christian, I believe that Jesus is who he says he is, I’m not like those villagers!
But a little voice in my mind said “but you have been rejecting his ways of doing things in your own life“. And I couldn’t deny it.
We can reject God in so many ways even once we recognise his authority. We might accept his way of salvation, but we wish Jesus didn’t say this or that. We might accept his mission, but we wish he wouldn’t build his kingdom in the way that he does, using the people he does. We accept that he has plans for us, but we wish it wasn’t that plan, or that way!
(Please note – I’m moving away from the specific applications of this particular passage to follow this principle…)
Rejecting His Ways
Let me give you a personal scenario by way of illustration:
I work as a Pastoral Assistant for Cambray Baptist Church. I love my job, but sometimes I’m hit with sudden insecurity. There are so many things I don’t know, so many things I’m bad at! On paper I’m just not very impressive. My CV (or résumé for my US friends) just doesn’t fit into the neat categories that I desire. I don’t fit.
I’d find it much more palatable and worthy of (self) trust if it contained a Theology degree from a reputable Bible College, instead of a degree in Fine Art – and perhaps a Masters degree in Pastoral Counselling for good measure! “None of this painting nonsense, that can’t be nearly as helpful or God-glorifying!”
Can you see what I’m doing? You see, each section of my CV represents prayerful life decisions based on God’s guidance, and yet I catch myself rejecting the way that God has led me so far, as though I can better construct my life for his glory than he can! The subconscious reasoning behind all of this is that, if my life looked the way I want it to – my skills, giftings, and qualifications – I could dispense with faith and prayerful reliance on God. I could stop relying on the wonderful way that God uses weak sinners in his service, and trust instead in my own achievements and knowledge!
Just like the people of Nazareth, I know what I want to see. I have my neat categories all set. Like them, will I conclude that Jesus and his ways don’t measure up? It’s a dangerous road and a sad one.
Accepting His Wisdom
Here is a verse I’ve been using to reshape my thoughts:
This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, 24 but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 9:23-24
Please hear me – a good education, qualifications, and experience are all valuable, and I intend to use everything on my CV for the glory of God – and continue to improve to the best of my ability! But I will trust him in the choosing, because this is the wisdom and knowledge that I need most: to know God, to love the things he loves, and to serve him faithfully.
My ‘CV mindset’ is just an example, we try to fit Jesus and his ways into our pre-set categories all the time!
Jesus doesn’t always say and do the things I expect. His word challenges and changes me. His plans are different. He calls me to leave the familiar and follow him, trusting that he will provide what I need. He is who I need. I must continue to live by faith in him, for whom wisdom was living among sinful men and women for 33 years before dying on a cross to save them.
As our Pastor Tim Martin challenged us on Sunday as he concluded his sermon, “Will our human assumptions outweigh divine authority?” or will we conquer our“miracle-stopping unbelief”?
(Although I’ve developed his thoughts in a specific direction here, you can listen to Tim’s helpful sermon using this link)