I like to win. But Barbara Brown Taylor reminded me in her book “Gospel Medicine” (p.23) that Jesus is known more by his scars than his victory laps. Bummer. Here’s what she wrote: “It is right there in black and white [in the bible]: the Christ is not the one who wins the power struggle; he is the one who loses it. The Christ is not the undefeated champion; he is the suffering servant, the broken one, who comes into his glory with his wounds still visible. Those hurt places are the proof that he is who he says he is, because the way you recognize the Christ – and his followers – is not by their muscles but by their scars.”
In John’s gospel, Jesus’ last words are, “It is finished.” And Rowan Williams reports that this is a cry of victory. We have context because Jesus told his followers that he himself had overcome the world. Are Williams and Taylor in disagreement about this winning and losing in the kingdom of God? I think not.
“Overcoming the world” didn’t turn out to mean what the disciples were hoping it would. They were fighting among themselves about who was the favorite of Jesus and jockeying for positions in the King’s cabinet when Jesus reigned. Jesus, however, was showing the way of obedience to God as a victory in and of itself. He has turned away from violence, explaining himself, choosing instead a life of service to others.
This sounds so good on paper. But how do we live it?
Are we willing to treat our friends and family with respect…even if they voted for THE OTHER CANDIDATE?
Can we love our children even if we are disappointed with their choices? Let me go a step further. Can we love our children and embrace their choices as their own without the need to commentate on said choices?
Are we willing to help folks who don’t react to our helpfulness as we would hope? What about when it sometimes feels as if we are being taken advantage of?
In your commitment to perhaps doing a few things differently in 2017 than previous years, what part of your plan includes respect for and service to others as called for by God himself?