I started with Luke 12 — the part about not being anxious. I just kind of randomly turned to it, looking for something to read. I stopped on 12:32. It was something that had never stood out to me before, though I’m sure I’ve read it. It was comforting and true. Resonated in my heart.
Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
But that’s not what I'm writing about. I kept reading the rest of the chapter, and I got a little sad about the tone Jesus was using. (I know, I KNOW. Just hear me out.)
I confess sometimes I think Jesus is a little harsh with the disciples. I want Jesus to be that kind, comforting gentleman at all times because he exists to make me feel better about life. (I'M NOT DONE YET PLEASE DON'T SMITE ME.)
Luke 12 goes from a kind, compassionate pep talk of sorts about not being afraid, to a lesson about being ready for his return and preparing to be divided from others and follow him at all costs and him setting a fire to the world. He asks them why they can predict the weather but not understand what is going on around them. He basically tells them to GET IT TOGETHER before it’s too late and they have to face the wrath of God.
It just all feels a little like he’s mad at them or something. But maybe “mad at me” is something we’ve constructed when someone hurts our feelings. Maybe we’ve established a version of love in our heads that this doesn’t match up with. And what does our human construction of love even mean? I know love is not about being nice all the time, but I figure it’s sort of a symptom at least. I’d like my husband to be nice to me at least most of the time, you know?
But maybe Jesus didn’t have time to worry about hurting our feelings. Maybe that’s not what mattered. After all, if you're inside a burning building and a fireman is yelling at you to move or shimmy or get out now, you're not going to be worried about him having hurt your feelings. It's a desperate situation -- there is no time for carefully crafted words and polite banter. You're just going to do it because you know he's trying to save you.
Jesus understood the urgency of what was on the table -- what was at stake (OUR LIVES, btw). Not that he was ever one to care about decorum, anyway. But he knew there wasn’t time for pleasantries or puffing up our egos.
Maybe it was also excruciating to him that we didn’t see the urgency. We didn’t get it. He’s standing there going “UNDERSTAND THIS. BE READY. THIS IS NOW. LOOK ALIVE.” and we’re like Wait um, what do you mean love your neighbor? Which neighbor exactly? Because that one is kind of the worst.
And he’s like "HOW LONG O LORD!"
But seriously, in this section he says, “I came to cast fire on the earth...would that it were already kindled!"
Would that we remotely understood what the heck he was talking about all the time. Would that we had no selfish pride. Would that we were not obsessed with ourselves and what will happen to us. Would that we could see beyond our own noses and other people's opinions of us.
So yes, maybe Jesus isn’t nice all the time. Which I have to admit, hurts my feelings a little bit. He’s supposed to love me unconditionally and comfort me, isn’t He? Doesn’t that mean never hurting my feelings?
As I’m typing that I can see how ridiculous and me-centered it is, in the face of this great story that involves all of human history and the creator of the universe. This is bigger than hurting my feelings. I can see him looking into my eyes with fiery passion, holding both sides of my face and saying these things. "HERE IT IS, LAURA. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. MY TIME IS COMING AND I WON'T BE HERE TO TELL YOU THESE THINGS FACE TO FACE ANYMORE. LISTEN CLOSELY." And I'm just looking to the side like "I wonder what that Samaritan is doing at the well...he doesn't live here..." Sigh. Thank goodness he doesn't give up on us, right?
There is more at stake that we could ever know. And I think Jesus understood that.