My wife and I have been married over 10 years now. I know, and have continued to learn that she is not only talented as a cook – she’s constantly looking for new flavors and taste adventures. She’s cooked her way humbly through several different cookbooks, even as I brag heartily when I complete any single task in the kitchen. In the midst of having such amazing gifts and desires for new flavors…she’s married to a man who’s favorite meal includes putting shredded cheese on tortilla chips in the microwave. A man who could eat pizza for every meal for an entire week or more, especially if it’s from different restaurants or different brands of frozen – which basically makes it a different food altogether.
Yes, I enjoy “good” food. But I also like easy/quick/cheap/food that I know I like. But when I ask her for pigs in a blanket for my special birthday meal, it’s like going to NASA and asking them to get you across town.
It reminds me of something NT Wright has said about the Jesus we’ve just finished celebrating at Christmas. In his book, “Simply Jesus”, he says “We have reduced the kingdom of God to private piety, the victory of the cross to comfort for the conscience, and Easter itself to a happy, escapist ending after a sad, dark tale.”
It’s easy to see what he’s talking about. We’re content to receive from Jesus what we think He wants to offer us. Even in making “New Years Resolutions”, we begin with our desires. I want to read my Bible more. I want to spend more of my time in prayer. I want to _____ for me. It can easily boil down to a goal of self-improvement: I want to _______ for God, because I believe doing so will yield ________ for my life.
The problem is, much like the Jews of the First Century, we come to Jesus with our own limited expectations. “He exists to make my life better. To make my way smoother. To open up doors of opportunity. To save me from anything bad, now and forever. To help me triumph over my enemies, and pave my paths with sunshine and hugs.”
Sorry, I didn’t mean to get all cynical-pessimistic. I’m actually an overly enthusiastic optimist.
But it’s important for us, as we begin a new year, to position ourselves in submission to Christ. Maybe you’ve already set goals for yourself in 2013. You’re going to pray/read scripture/attend worship/give/etc…more. As we move forward into these activities, let’s let go of doing them because of some sort of economy of investment/return. Let’s do them, because these are the ways of the Kingdom: To depend on the Word of God as we would food. To receive the presence of God. To join with others in declaring His Lordship & Kingdom. To be His active and helping presence to those in need. To love the unloved. To carry God’s image in all of these ways and more….not for any other reason other than submitting “myself” to God in love. Opening our life to Him completely, instead of offering a bit of it on an contractual basis, waiting to see what He fills His side of the scale with. It may mean we’ll be blessed. It may mean we’ll experience suffering. It may mean ______.
Whatever it means….it’s a LOT more than “Jesus saved my soul for Heaven someday”. It allows for flavors and experiences that we never would have imagined. For more on what God is doing through Jesus, check out NT Wright’s “Simply Jesus” today!
And Mrs. Anderson – go ahead and put ____ on my plate tonight. I’ll totally try it…