The Message Translation
1-3 Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. “The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.
4-7 “Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called ‘Doctor’ and ‘Reverend.’
8-10 “Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ‘Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.
11-12 “Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.
Thoughts from John: Religions often place a high value on reverence (it’s kind of the whole point). But what we revere has a massive influence on our sense of place in the world and how we operate as humans in relationship. What we revere is usually what we become.
Jesus seems to notice how the people around him are drawn to status and personal importance. Specifically, he seems perturbed by those who speak on behalf of God putting themselves in positions to be revered. People who do this usually like to prevent others from joining them. And if that’s the model of following God, what’s keeping everyone else from just becoming image-obsessed and ungracious toward each other? We need something new to revere and model our lives after.
So Jesus suggests replacing those who speak for God, with… well, God. The God who is humble and patient. Slow to anger. Disinterested in power and privilege, but empties Godself of prestige in order to love and serve. If this God is our model of being in relationship, perhaps the effect we wish to have on the world will become more and more of a reality.
Outward Mindset Application
This week, learn the objectives of 3 people who you influence in your role at work.
Pathways Toward Centeredness
Asceticism (Loving God through silence and solitude):
Many of us have our habits of “tuning out” (Netflix, video games, etc.). Tuning out is healthy… in moderation. This week, see if you can transform your moments of tuning out from just being distracted to something more intentional. Instead of turning on a re-run, try 10 minutes of meditation or mindfulness. Instead of turning on FIFA, try 5 minutes of breathing exercises.
Then turn on the distraction (but after giving your brain a chance to process out the stress of the world).
Questions for Reflection
Who are the people whose way of being human is most attractive to you?
What conditions might the world need to create so that “downward-mobility” becomes the preferred model of leadership?
“Liturgy” refers to the habits and practices humans use to form community around shared values and meaning. At Church at the Park, we desire to be a community of practice, becoming people who see the world through the eyes of the marginalized, making meaning through the lens of pain and suffering, and committing ourselves to non-violence in a wounded world. This weekly email is intended to provide pathways of practice for becoming the type of people who embody these values.
Many of our reflections on each week's text come from other sources. If you're interested in reading more of what inspires us, here our our two favorite reflections.
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