Scripture: Mark 2:1-27
Observation: Jesus starts to cause a lot of controversy – he heals a paralyzed man, he uses his authority to forgive the man’s sins, he eats with a group of disreputable sinners, he breaks the Jewish traditions of fasting and working on the Sabbath. The Pharisees (teachers of religious law) were furious with these acts.
Application: Real talk: I spent a lot of time growing up caring about what other people thought about me and an even larger amount of time changing things about myself so that I would fit in.
In elementary school, everyone* listened to the 98 YCR radio station, which included a mélange of the Top 40 hits, so I traded in my love of country music (holla to the Dixie Chicks!) to learn all the words to the songs everyone else seemed to know.
In high school, everyone* spent absurd amounts of their (parent’s) money on Abercrombie & Fitch jeans, so I too decided I had to spend an absurd amount of my (parent’s) money on Abercrombie & Fitch jeans. Nothing like spending $80 in a store where you can’t think straight because the music is way too loud, the cologne smell is overpowering, and the lights are so dark you feel like you’re going blind. But yep, it was totally worth it.**
In college, everyone* traded in their sturdy and reliable backpacks to tote their belongings around in a completely impractical Longchamp bag, so I too found a way to acquire a Longchamp bag so I could awkwardly lug all my stuff around in a bag that was way too small but looked cooler*** than my backpack.
*The term “everyone” was used very loosely above.
** It actually was not totally worth it.
*** In retrospect, I probably did not look that cool. Also, my bag ripped about six months after I got it, so I sewed it back together in the most janky way possible only to have it rip again about a week later. Northface backpack, where you at?!****
****I’m so lame. Please keep reading. We’re going to talk about Jesus soon, I promise.
I just wanted to impress people.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that Jesus didn’t have that same problem. He did a bunch of unpopular things – eating with sinners, not practicing fasting the way the Pharisees did, working on the Sabbath. He wasn’t concerned about “following the rules,” he was concerned about following the will of the One who sent him.
Look what he says in verse 17 after the Pharisees accuse him of eating with “scum”:
“Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
Jesus came for people, not for popularity.
Jesus didn’t come for perfect people. He came for people like me and people like you, people who are broken and incomplete and in need of grace. He was willing to sacrifice his reputation to reach out to the people others rejected.
Are we willing to risk everything to serve others? Are we willing to sacrifice our reputations that we’ve carefully put together piece by piece to reach out to people others reject? Are we willing to admit we’re sinners in need of grace when others around us judge us?
Let’s be people who are more concerned with people than with popularity. Let’s be people who will walk away from the crowd. Let’s be people who are willing to endure insults and judgments to stand up for what’s right. Let’s be people who aren’t afraid to admit just how much we need God’s perfect and endless grace.
And let’s promise each other never to change what we listen to, wear, or carry just to please other people. It’s not worth it.*****
*****And that’s the truth.
Prayer: Jesus, thank you for living with such boldness and confidence, for caring more about people than about popularity. I pray for the ability to model that same boldness, to always stand up for what’s right, even when it’s unpopular. Amen.