• Steven Marsh

Self-Indulgence: a Reflection on Psalm 25, Isaiah 54:1-10, Galatians 5:1-15, and Mark 8:27-9:1

Freedom is a curious thing. Human values it and in many places in the world, freedom is compromised. Some use power to oppress and control, which an abuse of freedom. Power can take away another’s freedom.

President Obama made a historical comment at the National Prayer Breakfast about people committing “terrible deeds” in the name of Christ during the Crusades, Inquisition, and slavery and Jim Crow in the United States. Obama cautioned those present about getting “on our high horse” about terrible deeds being done in the name of religion only over there.

The uproar from the religious right has been incredible. The hate and vitriol is staggering. The venomous attack against our President does not represent me as a follower of Jesus. The President has been labeled not a Christian, a supporter of Islam, and un-American.

I find the President’s caution reasonable. Humility is a clear biblical virtue. The Dalai Lama was even present. Being a “hawk” and calling out the evils of one religion and not the other would be pompous and arrogant.

The troubles of the human heart are many without adding the role of prosecutor and Judge. What makes fear such a powerful motivator? It isolates, separates, builds up self, and verges on narcissism of the highest order.

The gospel writer highlights Jesus’ question of Peter, “Who do you say I am?” That question causes pause and cuts through the rhetoric from left and right.

Self-Indulgence despises the question. And that is not surprising.

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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