Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 – The Third Wednesday in Lent
According to the late theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, there are three signs of a False Prophet. A false prophet:
- Tells us only what we want to hear.
- Tells us no one has to change.
- Is not included in the prophecy.
Niebuhr was insightful, all right. In the same way that C.S. Lewis turns the tables in the Screwtape Letters and describes God from the enemy’s point of view, Niebuhr describes the authenticity of Jesus by describing His opposite. Many historical figures, large and small, are described by the characteristics above. They are now the detritus of history. Jesus, on the other hand, we are still talking about. Still trying to understand. Still trying to follow.
What is so stunning is that Jesus is uniquely authentic, so completely an incarnation of the Mystery from before time. Over and over in the Gospel of John, Jesus is found saying that everything He does and says comes from His Heavenly Father. None of this is His idea. He is merely faithful to the power that gave Him life and will give it back to Him when his earthly course is done. He will not settle for short term gains. Jesus always has His eyes on the prize, the prize being communion with God…and communion with those who will yield to Divine love.
Part of what Jesus accomplishes during His earthly ministry is to redefine winning. If we are winning with God, what else could there be worth trying to win? He asks, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36) While we are busy trying to do at the moment whatever we feel is most needful, that question hangs above us all.
What are our priorities? Who influenced us to set them? What will they get us? If we have to bend things along the way, does that matter and to whom? What will it mean to me if I ‘win’ this thing I am striving for? If I don’t? Was the famous dirt-kicking Cubs manager, Leo Durocher, right when he said, “Good guys finish last?”
My answer to Leo is that it depends on the game you’re playing.
By any earthly measure, Jesus lost. He had plenty of people around Him who concurred with that assessment including, sadly, some of his best friends. And yet we think of Him as the biggest winner of all.
May our life at Christ Church give us the courage to ‘lose’ in the same manner.
Questions for the day: What am I playing for in my life? Are my ‘gains’ drawing me closer to God or moving me further away?
– Christopher Powell