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This Sunday – March 27

I remember being surprised when it occurred to me what advice I should give to a particular person who was really struggling with something.

 

I was surprised at first by what advice it wasn’t.

 

I first expected to give the standard advice.

 

Trust God.

 

Pray about it.

 

Confess your sin.

 

Believe the promises.

 

Wait on God.

 

Read this book.

 

See a therapist.

 

Sometimes the best advice is along one of those things.  But, not this time.

 

The best advice to this person, and to many others?

 

Lighten up.

 

Didn’t sound very spiritual, but it was, because it was right.  I wonder how many of our problems come from taking ourselves too seriously. Those who want to know and experience God are probably the worst at this.  I can guarantee you that you take Jesus too seriously – or, at least too seriously in the wrong ways.

 

But, how can we not?  The one who was crucified for the sins of the world, the one who was engaged in constant conflict with his enemies, constant battle with evil, constant misunderstanding with his followers, the “Man of Sorrows” – all that is serious business.

 

Absolutely, but we read Jesus the wrong way in the gospels, and we totally intensify faith in the wrong way if we don’t know how to lighten up.

 

For instance, in the passage that we will be looking at this Sunday, Mark 2:18-3:6, Jesus once again is in conflict with the religious leaders of his day – the we-take-God-seriously crowd.

 

First of all, they can’t understand why Jesus’ disciples don’t fast.  His answer?   Who would fast at a wedding? 

 

If you don’t see the humor in Jesus’ irony, then two things are true.  First, you have forgotten that he is Jewish.  Secondly, you will miss the joy-inspiring tone of his life and ministry.  And, when you do that, you distort the love of God into a pressure-cooker of conformity, our own brand of spiritual correctness.

 

Then you end up taking yourself so seriously that it is almost impossible for God to loosen your grip on the areas of your life that he really wants to change.  You are too afraid that you will mess up.

 

The words of Jesus can become toxic if we disconnect them from the tone.  Like an email that we don’t know how to interpret.

 

Pressure instead of joy, self-audit instead of freedom, guilt instead of peace.  Those things point to a tone issue.

 

This Sunday, we get to hear tone.

Comments

  1. I love this! When I was over a strategic comm department in corporate America, I would admonish my younger team members to read between the lines in any written communication to see if it had “tone.” Tone can be intentional or accidental and have a positive or negative impact on the reader.

    Having heard you preach last Sunday, it’s obvious that you understand not only the words conveyed in the Bible but the heart of He who inspired the words. I like this practical reminder that all-God Jesus was also all-human Jesus who used a sense of humor and irony when communicating to the humans in his fold.

    I appreciate you and your message.