Summary: Jesus offers community as a corrective to individualism.
LIVE AND LET LIVE
Sermon #5 of “Ten Cultural Myths that Drive America”
Special Note: A singer is used repeatedly throughout the sermon to sing the six verses of “The Servant Song” (Hymn #679 in the Nazarene Hymnal). At the conclusion the congregation read responsive reading #680 and sings the hymn.
This is the fifth sermon in our sermon series, “Ten Cultural Myths that Drive America” from the first six chapters of Mark. Prior to Advent we looked at four from Chapters 1 & 2 of the book. We discovered that Jesus’ worldview goes against the grain of much of mainstream America. We are highlighting different adages or aphorisms that are imbedded into the American psyche and serve to reinforce our cultural philosophies. Specifically we looked at.
• Might Makes Right (Mark 1:1-12) – where we saw Christ’s counter-cultural ethic of serving humanity rather than working from a position of strength and manipulation.
• Image is Everything (Mark 1:32-39) – Jesus rejects this Western philosophy. Jesus had the crowds eating out of his has but walked away from the populace specifically because their ambitions did not coincide with those of the Heavenly Father’s.
• Shop ‘till You Drop (Mark 2:13-17) - Jesus reminds us that there are better ways to find meaning in life than materialism.
• Rules are Made to be Broken (Mark 2:18 – 3:6 -) Jesus rebukes and challenges the worldview which says the ends justifies means. Jesus says there is no place to bend or violate God’s eternal law. Period.
In coming weeks we will look at other slogans that have become embedded into the American psyche, other idioms that define us and motivate us as a people. We will look at:
• You are Only Young Once - Mark 1:14-20; 3:13-19
• If You Want Something Done Right, Do It Yourself - Mark 3:13-19; 31-35
• If it Feels Good, Do It - Mark 5:1-20
• God Helps Those Who Help Themselves - Mark 5:25-34
• Stand Up For Your Rights - Mark 5:17, 6:1-6
The passage in Mark from 2:1 through 3:6 places Jesus on a head-on collision course with “the powers that be.”
His Good News challenges the drudgery of the Law
His Authority threatens the legitimacy of the scribes
His concern for human need tears at the threads of the established religion
By merely loving people he is compelled into contending for the truth against dead orthodoxy and deadly opponents
Today our focus in on Mark 3:1-6
1Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, "Stand up in front of everyone."
4Then Jesus asked them, "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" But they remained silent.
5He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.
We frame it very skillfully. We are good at making it seem noble. But it breeds self-centeredness and indifference.
There are many adages used to illustrate it.
• “Looking out for number #1”
• “To each his own”
• “I did it my way”
• “Be true to yourself”
• “If it feels good do it”
• “Express yourself”
• “I’ve got to be me”
• “Live and let live”
Such a value system is prevalent, indeed ingrained, into the American psyche.
We are taught it from kindergarten. It has various shades (not all are bad) but when it reaches its potential conclusions it tends to be highly individualized and selfish. When this happens the slogans are a bit more “base”.
• “Dog eat dog”
• “May the best man win”
• “Only the strong survive”
Such a value system is prevalent, indeed ingrained, into the American psyche …. But maybe Jesus works from a different ethic. Maybe Jesus is not about “Looking out for #1.” Maybe Jesus is about community.
Maybe Jesus would use slogans like:
• “It takes a village to raise a child” (I understand that this slogan has been hi-jacked by certain political personalities in recent years but that does not negate the adage’s original truth)
• “The common good”
• “There can never be good for the bee what is bad for the hive.”
• “A rising tide lifts all ships.”
Have you noticed the posturing that the cast of characters in today’s Scripture reading assume?