• Steven Marsh

Resting Not Wrangling: a Reflection on Psalm 107:1-22, Isaiah 60:1-22, 2 Timothy 2:14-26, and Mark 1

As a teenager, I loved hanging out at the Radio Shack near my house. I was enthralled with technology and the “hands on” approach to learning and buying was afforded me. The sales clerks were personable, knowledgeable, and even more interested than me in the products and how technology was advancing.

Today, Radio Shack is in Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. At its height of 7K stores it now hovers at around 3K. Will it co-brand with Sprint? Will Amazon buy it to start its retail presence in “shops?” Or will Radio Shack re-emerge as a stand-alone?

The gospel the man heard was radical. Jesus told him to sell everything and give it to the poor. Oh, he’d have treasures in heaven. And then the man was to follow him. The man didn’t follow. Instead, he went away saddened, because he had so much stuff.

Not an attractive brand of Christianity. The longer Jesus lived, taught, healed, and invited others to follow, there was a marked decline in “yeses” if you will.

But Constantine revolutionized church growth. And I do not believe that was a good thing. Once Christianity became the religion of the land, it grew. Growth wasn’t hard. If you were a Roman citizen you were a Christian. If you were a Christian you were a Roman citizen.

Christendom lasted well into the twentieth century. But its collapse is full swing. I think that’s a good thing. I do not want the church propped up by the state. And I don’t believe Jesus did either. And today’s church growth strategies seem to be rooted in entertainment and human “purposed” initiatives. They too will fail.

What’s the take away from the texts today? God is the one who grows the church; not our programs and slick marketing; not our alignment with certain political platforms. It is God who satisfies the thirsty and gives good things to the hungry. Oh, we need to cry out, and God answers.

The more we look to God and not our whimsical ways, violence, devastation, and destruction will vanish. It is true that we are living in a world that is hell-bent to be selfish, greedy, and narcissist. ISIS is filled with hate, the US is wondering what to do and fixated on Ayn Rand, Europe is cracking down on immigration policies, and the Middle East is full bore into a family squabble between Sunni and Shia.

Paul reminds us not to wrangle over words, but to deeply look to God. It is God that changes human hearts and moves them to repentance.

What is the common human cry? It seems to me that our cry revolves around economics and the disparity between the haves and have nots.

How might we return to a first century faith, love God and others, hold all things in common, not define ourselves by stuff and sex, and give ourselves away for the sake of justice?

Naïve? Perhaps. Honest? Most certainly. I want to be more about resting in Christ as opposed to wrangling over words, doctrines, and programs.

Scripture readings are taken from the two-year daily lectionary cycle which follows the liturgical calendar and begins on the First Sunday of Advent.

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