This year Michael and I both are blogging for our church as part of our internship there. I've been privileged to hear more of my husband's "voice" as he's worked to put his beautiful thoughts into words-- 400 words or less, to be exact-- and to learn from him in the process. Here's one he wrote that made me giggle, and made me ask some hard questions. What do you think?
What We Truly Need
What We Truly Need
I was recently remembering my high school years in all their *ahem* glory. I rolled into school on the first day, large glasses, butt-cut hair, not having lost all of my, let’s say, baby-fat yet. As I took in my surroundings, I quickly realized I couldn’t cut it as I was – I needed to be re-made. A year later, I stepped onto campus again, this time as a sophomore with contacts, gelled hair, and less, er, circumference. Success! A girlfriend! A year later, with the sting of a recently broken heart, I was a gym-going and much more stoic (mysterious?) junior.
The saga continued with many more cycles of brokenness and change. I was regularly pushed into the depths of my inability (to get a girl, to win the match, etc.). I was pushed to ask the question we as humans inevitably ask: “What do I need?”
But this question is by no means a recent development; we are and always have been needy! It would not have been inappropriate to ask this question in the Garden of Eden. The difference was that we never had any doubt as to the answer – what we need is the relationship we were made to have with our Creator and Father. But we pushed away from God and our God-given relationship with Him.
In Sunday’s Old Testament passage (), we see a potter working with a spoiled vessel to reshape it. In the same way that the potter does this “as it seems good for the potter to do” (v.4), so God does to Israel (v.6). Though Israel often thought they needed idols, God was patient and did not give up on them.
In Sunday’s Gospel (), Jesus forces this same question: “What do I need?” He went right after one of the most common answers of the day:
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters…he cannot be my disciple. (v. 26)
Family was everything. If you had no family, you had nobody to care for you when you were old, nobody to carry on your name, and no children to help you work your land. Without family, many thought of you as the walking dead. Accordingly, “family” was a culturally accepted answer to “What do I need?” Culture’s attachment to family was strong. Jesus’ response was equally strong; “hate.” This was radical! Honoring one’s father and mother (commandment 5) was important. Still, Jesus was God, before whom one should have no other gods (commandment 1), even family. So long as those who wished to follow Jesus gave preferential treatment to family, they were not giving it to Jesus, and could not be His disciple.What do we give preferential treatment to? Without what would we consider ourselves among the “walking dead?” Christ has made us new and good vessels, but we still operate out of “spoiled” assumptions. How have we attempted to answer the question “What do I need?” In our darkest, most painful, love-spurned, or broken moments, have we tried to remake ourselves with things good and/or bad? I invite you to seek the original relationship we had in the Garden, having now been made into a new vessel. I invite you to ask God to help you see all things you turn to for identity and healing before Him. Only then will we identify with and be healed by an unshakable identity, one that will not go out of style, or be depleted, or let us down.