Summary: Jesus offers community as a corrective to individualism.
LIVE AND LET LIVE
Sermon #5 of “Ten Cultural Myths that Drive America”
This is the fifth sermon (and sixth week) 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:
• 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
We did not finish last week and will pick up with Mark 3:1-6 again today.
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.”
REVIEW & RECAP
Last week we noticed a few preliminary things that I would like to review.
• The cast of characters in today’s Scripture assume that they can maneuver themselves and others like pieces on a chess board in hopes of achieving a desired effect rather than looking at the situation as it is and determining what God might want to do or what God might be doing?
• They never give much consideration to the thought that God might have arranged things like they were so that there would be a desired end … they seem more concerned about accomplishing their own agenda.
• To them, the man in question was a mere pawn; he was not a human being. His dignity and need were even on their radar. Neither was God’s will.