My wife can often tell when I get stressed. What she may not always be able to tell, is why I’m stressed. Recently, we discovered that a bit source of my anxiety comes from my approach to many of life’s simplest of tasks. When I’m doing something, especially something routine, I’m not usually thinking about what I’m doing. My mind is 4 or 5 steps down the road, and attempting to do this current step with the greatest efficiency to get there.
A couple examples: Before I can cook or help much in the kitchen, I have to clean the kitchen. I don’t like making a mess on top of a mess, and I’ll usually try to keep the kitchen clean while I cook, so that I don’t have to do it all at once afterward. But one of the biggest areas my anxiety comes out, is when we’re scheduled to be somewhere at a certain time. I’ve been known to have all the kids with their shoes and coats on 10 minutes before we even need to start getting ready. She regularly gives me the “chill pill” pep talk.
So the passage we read this week, Mark 1:40-45, strikes a cord as I recognize how wildly inefficient Jesus is. A man comes up to him, asking to be made clean/healed. Moved by compassion, Jesus touches the man saying “I am willing..be healed.” But then he must tell the man not to say anything to anyone. The man goes off telling everyone!!! From then on, Jesus “could no longer enter a town openly”, and had to “stay outside in lonely places.”
It’s easy to read this story and think, “Wow, that Jesus sure knew what he was doing. He was scheming to have that man run ahead announcing great news, and knew the guy couldn’t keep his mouth shut when he healed him. The best PR is word of mouth!” But that’s not what we read here. It sounds more like Jesus was just a poor campaign strategist. He wasn’t motivated by what would maximize his reach in the cities. He wasn’t worried about 3 or 4 steps down the road, and what this mans’ commotion would stir up.
He was motivated by Love.
That love compelled him to reach out and touch the man in need. That touch brought healing and restoration for the man. But for Jesus, it brought sacrifice. But I don’t see Jesus doing a fist pump saying “Yes!! He did exactly what I knew he would!”, or “Aw nuts, now I can’t go to the parties.” We see Jesus continuing to do what He set out to do, however he can. He continued to make decisions motivated more by Love than any type of long-range efficiency plan. Those moments of acting out sacrificial love add together to a life destined for the cross. When he arrived there, he continued his pattern of being senselessly motivated by God’s Love.
He calls us to that same reckless abandonment of self. To that same wildly freeing experience of living out God’s Holy Love for others, no matter what it means to what the world would consider our most efficient/favorable path. Before I sound too hippyish, I suppose I ought to add, I don’t believe this is some sort of romantic – go with the flow – type living where we are blown around by the wind. Jesus was able to make senseless “in-the-moment” decisions that didn’t make much sense – because His heart was in the hands of God.
My examples above are really pretty silly. Small things. But the large picture is this: does my life show my kids how to live motivated by Love…or how to live motivated by efficiency? It can be tough, especially when it requires sacrifice of the entire household. But when we live motivated by Love – we are following Jesus…