Colossians 2: 2-3 (NIV) My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
This Lenten Season we look at the revelation that is Jesus. Lent begins on March 6th with Ash Wednesday; we are going to set the Lenten stage on Transfiguration Sunday (March 3rd). In our reading that morning, Jesus will be encountered both on the mountain top and in the valley (Luke 9: 28-43).
On that mountain top, the voice from the heavens will say: “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” For the rest of that scene, Jesus is silent but the next day, when they come down from the mountain, Jesus is frustrated by a failure of the disciples to sustain healing powers displayed earlier in the Gospel. Jesus says: “You unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?” The disciples were previously able to heal people “everywhere” but now, they fail.
The text is unclear, at least to me, as to what has gone wrong: one scene, they have it, a few scenes later, whatever they had, is gone. Jesus calls them “unbelieving and perverse.” I understand “unbelieving” but perverse is less used in our 21st Century world. One definition is the “showing a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way that is unreasonable or unacceptable, often in spite of the consequences.”
“A deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way that is unreasonable or unacceptable, often in spite of the consequences.”
The disciples have just themselves healed others. Three of them have been on the mountaintop and heard the voice of God pronounce Jesus as divinely chosen and, given their first shot out of the barrel to show they get it, they stumble.
What happened in that movement from mountain top to valley?
I’m just guessing here mind you but I wonder if it just wasn’t life. Don’t we often have a deep and fundamental desire to behave unreasonably and unacceptably? We glory in mountain top moments, but journey into that valley, unbelief.
The reality is that Jesus is an ongoing mystery with a revelation of knowledge and wisdom. That knowledge and wisdom might be revealed to us is in testing while listening to the prophetic voice of Jesus himself. My personal take is that the more I study Jesus, the more I realize I don’t know, I don’t understand. I am sure that at times, Jesus could accuse me of being faithless and perverse.
Are we in the United Methodist Church being faithless and perverse, and if yes, who? My knee jerk is it must be those who do not agree with me, but that is less than gracious.
I am saddened by the most recent experience in St. Louis this week by the United Methodist Church to reach some kind of accommodation with how we understand human sexuality, specifically, homosexuality. We are clearly not of one mind on this. I am frankly, still digesting what happened.
But even in my despair, I invite us to urgently refine the prophetic call of the mysterious but revealed Jesus. I believe that means being in, but not of, the world. Instead of being so vanilla and bland we might be a church in the “middle of anywhere”, I believe we are called to be a church on the "edge of somewhere” with that somewhere located more in valley than in mountaintop. That somewhere is emotionally closer to despair than exhilaration.
Join us in March as we try to unravel that revelation that is both the mystery and beauty of Jesus.
Selah, Pastor Dennis