Summary: Hometown. Comfortable confines. Known streets. Familiar sights. Our people. Our mission field? Our challenge? Our assignment?
Pt. 3 - Playing Keep Away
Apathy. It is the target of our attack. It is the epidemic of our day. We are swamped with the "I don't cares!" We don't want to be bothered or interrupted with concern. We walk through life avoiding involvement by using every excuse/loophole we can execute because excuses have become easier and easier to excuse. Apathy . . . "without feeling" or "without passion"! We cannot live up to the standards of our name without wrestling apathy to the ground and killing it. This is done by action! Words don't destroy apathy. Proclamation doesn't destroy apathy. We only destroy apathy by rolling up our sleeves and dismantling it with elbow grease and effort! We have begun the process. The challenge now is to finalize the uproot and to stay on constant guard to keep it from seeping back in. We must learn a lifestyle of action and compassion.
Jesus made His purpose for arriving on planet earth very clear to His followers. In Mark 2:17, Jesus states that He is here because it is the sick that need a doctor and that He didn't come for the righteous but rather for the sinner. Yet, from that day forward it is apparent that not only did those listening to Jesus' purpose statement dismiss or disregard it but we too continue to make Jesus' mission comply to our comfort zone.
Jesus' disciples, crowds and religious leaders of the day were often committed to playing keep away. I could take you all over the Gospels to show you this but I think perhaps the greatest examples can be found all in one day Jesus' life. One chapter in Mark reveals the depth of apathy alive in the hearts of the people around Jesus.
Text: Mark 10:13-16, 35-41, 46-48
The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them.
James and John, Zebedee’s sons, came up to him. “Teacher, we have something we want you to do for us.” “What is it? I’ll see what I can do.” “Arrange it,” they said, “so that we will be awarded the highest places of honor in your glory—one of us at your right, the other at your left.” When the other ten heard of this conversation, they lost their tempers with James and John. Jesus got them together to settle things down. “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,” he said, “and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.”
Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus which means “son of Timaeus”, was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Apathy on full display and at its worst. Jesus' followers play keep away with Jesus. They try to keep children away from Jesus and then they try to keep a blind man blind. They have knowledge and experience that Jesus can heal blindness but choose to try to silence and sequester a man who's only hope is Jesus. Then the unchecked apathy produces its ultimate fruit which is arrogance and selfishness. So after holding people at arms length and ignoring Jesus' purpose and the people's needs the disciples try to get special favors and treatment. It is the same pattern we continue to perpetuate if we are not careful.
a. Once touched we tend to make Jesus untouchable.
How many of you would testify that encountering Jesus was transformational and the best thing that ever happened to you? Yet, we horde His healing. We fence Him in either in fear that if others get to Him our needs won't be met or in hopes that if we can get His undivided attention our blessings will be more blessed.