My privilege is to work with people
who are passionate about meaning, especially as it relates to ministry.
Several of them have expressed to me their desire to “fill stadiums.” It is a vision, a goal and a standard they have somehow incorporated into their psyche. I suspect it is heavily influenced by the American definition of success. “If you have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people coming to hear your message, God is in it. Therefore, you must be in God’s favor.” More than once I have appealed to them to re-examine this desire, wondering if perhaps it speaks more of their own need for affirmation and their as yet unclear understanding of what God requires of them, or wants for them.
You see, my standard is the image of Jesus dangling alone on an ugly hill.
As the hours waned on the crowds departed.
The thrill of getting to see the nails hammered into his wrists, or to partake in a grim spectacle, wore off, as all “entertainment” does, and they returned home. A few of those who were able to force themselves to stay, mostly the women who loved him and John, as the story is told, were there not out of a sense of spectacle, but a desire to be with him in his suffering, and somehow shoulder some of the pain.
This image of the cross, which Christians have chosen as the single symbol of our faith, is one of loneliness, and standing alone.
It is not a goal post.
My mother once observed “Nobody would have bought stock in Jesus at that moment.” He had been abandoned, deserted, stripped of all seeming power and earthly possessions, scourged, given a mocking title, and strung up to die.
And yet….was he not in God’s favor then? Was this act of obedience not the single most important choice he made in his lifetime? Was not this, his love for us, his love for God, the most telling victory of all?
Crowds surging to hear you does not necessarily indicate God’s favor. God does not run a popularity contest for grace.
It is what you are doing when the crowds depart that speaks most of divine connection.
Good Friday. We call it good for a reason. God saw a loving son doing what was required. And it was “good.” Nobody else’s opinion matters at all, on such a day as this. * * *
Live. Breathe. Joy