A couple of days ago, I wrote little about the unaddressed question of what it means to be “like a child” in the context of the New Testament gospels. I hope that I don’t present the false idea that I’m consistent in studying the Bible daily, or that I have any right at all to tell others how to understand it. Sometimes, though, when I read something, I want to discuss it a bit, and here’s this blog….
So, Happy Ash Wenesday, everyone. We’ve begun the season of Lent, something I still don’t really understand, and today I read a bit from Mark 10 — and ran right into another idea that I’ve never felt has been sufficiently explored.
In Mark 10, two of the disciples ask Jesus to be placed in positions of honor by Jesus’ side. He responds by telling them that it really isn’t in his power to make that call, but more importantly, “whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must become a slave to all.”
In my old Southern Baptist background, these words were used as excuses to push someone down, to accuse someone of “getting too big for their britches” and, well, shaming that person into a less powerful position in the group.
I’d like to take a moment to say that I do not think that that kind of behavior towards anyone was ever OK in God’s mind. Shaming or ridiculing is bad, because it’s mean, because it’s vicious, and because it’s inherently judgemental, all things Christians aren’t supposed to be. (We often are, sadly, but we’re supposed to try to avoid that stuff.)
For me, personally, I always thought that the whole “being last to be first” thing meant that I somehow had to be full of self-loathing just to be sure I didn’t love my self too much.
But now I see that that, too, is a stupid idea. We aren’t supposed to hate ourselves. We just aren’t supposed to assume that we are any more valuable than anyone else. We are supposed to love (a word with sometimes murky meaning) everyone as God loves us, which means that each of us including ourselves, gets hefty doses of respect, safety, forgiveness, and dignity.
I *think* that this passage is saying that if we feel that kind of regard for others, we will find ourselves becoming closer to our best selves, and therefore closer to God. Going through the motions of humility is fake, a sham, an act to try to manipulate human’s opinions of us for societal gain of some sort. But, incorporating this Agape love into our hearts and minds will transform us.
That’s what I’m thinking as I continue my study. Anyone else?