I love to preach the Gospels, particularly because it is fun to poke fun at the disciples. Those poor boys just don’t seem to get it most of the time, do they?
They make me feel good to read about. I love reading how, again and again, Jesus tries to teach tem, get them to understand what he’s teaching, trying to nurture and form them into disciples worthy of carrying on his work. And, again and again, they come up short, completely miss the point, and sabotage (even if unintentionally) what their teacher is trying to accomplish.
These stories are gold mines for the Bible studying Christian. We can read them and allow their foibles to teach us valuable lessons. Much like other people in our lives, we can allow the characters in the Bible to make the mistakes we don’t want to be making, so that we can learn from them. They screw up so we don’t have to.
What if we looked at it another way?
One of my favorite writers, Seth Godin, has a new book in which the reminds us that the story of Icarus and his wax wings had two cautions in it. One, of course was to not fly too close to the Sun. That is the caution we all remember.
But did you remember that Icarus’ father also told him to not fly too close to the sea? If he did, his wax wings might get wet and ruin.
Not too high, Not too low. Where to fly in the sky is something we all have to figure out, and I think that a lot of our screw ups can be attributed to our willingness to push the outer reaches of our ability in order to find the proper altitude at which to fly. Can we really be held accountable for simply try to figure out how to live life?
What if Peter’s offer to built three tents on the mount of Transfiguration was just him trying to be as close to the divine as he possibly could? He just saw Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. Are we really going to fault the man for this?
What is James and John’s request to sit at Jesus’ right and let hand in glory was just their desire to be as much like Jesus as possible? The entire idea of following a rabbi was to be as much like that rabbi as possible. Can we really fault them for trying to find the limit of what that meant?
What if Sarah laughing at the suggestion that she was about to be pregnant was just her trying to be realistic? I mean, come on, she was old, even by our standards. Can we really fault her for trying to maximize whatever energy she had as she neared the end of her own life?
What if Martha rushing about the house was just her trying to be as good of a friend to her friend as she could be? Someone had to make sure the food was prepared and her sister wasn’t really helping? Can we really fault her for trying to be hospitable?
What if Nimrod’s parents were just trying to give their son a very interesting name? Can we really fault them for that? 😉
Of course, I’m not suggesting that every misstep in the Bible can be written off easily, but I am suggesting that automatically reading these as tales advising us towards caution may be bad for us. God’s people are called to risk everything for the sake fo the Gospel, and, yet, we are the most cautious bunch of folks who ever lived.
I fear that we are not giving our all to the Missio Dei because we are afraid we might end up screwing up. We’re afraid that we might do something so irreparable that we don’t push the envelop and find out what the line is.
God needs big things from people who are willing to make a mess of things while trying to figure out how to do those things.
Are you willing to be a screwup?