How often do we ask the wrong questions? Major in the minors? Fixate on the unknowable?
I have found that especially when fundamental disagreements are involved, we quickly move from the big picture to the small. From what we have in common to what separates us. This seems especially true in politics and religion where some among us seem to revel in pointing out differences and distinctions, and nearly always with the implication that “our side” is right.
Among Christians, questions on sexuality and marriage, women in leadership, race and the role of the church, the gifts of the Spirit, and so much more rage on.
To be sure, these are real questions. Yet I can’t help but think of Jesus’ words throughout the book of Mark and especially in chapter 12 where the religious elites try from many angles to trap him with questions that feel strikingly contemporary. Each time, though, he points upward and beyond the question at hand. He goes bigger.
Might it be possible that though we find importance in clarifying our positions, Jesus modeled these responses for a reason? Might he have known his Church would be prone to divide rather than unite?
And might it be, then, that his way of pointing us to the big stuff, while not ignoring the little stuff, might be a key for us. Yes, Jesus talked about divorce, lust, adultery, money, gender, and so much more. But it is impossible to read the gospels and not see the bigger storyline – that God, in his infinite love and compassion, is continually drawing us near to himself and making a way for us in spite of our own failures and shortcomings, especially in the details.
We miss it. We screw it up. We get it wrong. If we are humble enough to admit it, and perhaps even when we’re not, there’s Jesus, lovingly reminding us that we should, above all, love God and love others.
This week, each time we are tempted to focus on the divides and the differences, let’s follow the lead of Jesus. He hears our questions and concerns – but he always points us back to fundamental questions: am I loving God and loving the person in front of me, right now? If we are aiming at that, a lot of good things can happen.
Grace and Peace,