From the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry we learn a very troubling lesson:
Our messiah is not an enabler.
You see Jesus is not here to do anything for us…
He is here to empower us to go out into the world to do the work of God.
Throughout all the gospels we see Jesus insisting over and over again that the power to heal he world does not reside solely in Jesus. He sent out his disciples to heal in his name. He sent the Holy Spirit to empower us…to go…to be the change we seek. Jesus came not to gather power for himself but to disperse it…to empower his followers and every person he encounters.
Jesus we learn from the Gospels was baptized and emerged from the water a new creation himself. Suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” He believed the voice, and made his belovedness a part of him. His belovedness made him unique but not special. Not at least in the sense that his belovedness moved him to narcissism. He never gave in to the temptations that followed his baptism by suggesting that he alone was the beloved and therefore he knew all the answers and alone would fix the world.
His “Ah Ha” moment went beyond the recognition of his unique relationship with God. It extended to everyone’s unique relationship with God…”I am God’s beloved, son, yes…but so are you…you are God’s beloved daughter…you are God’s beloved son…with whom God is well pleased…”
Such an understanding, is at once healing and terrifying.
It is tempting to desire a messiah, a pastor, a parent, political leader, who will do it for us…Yet every baptized Christian is called to be the beloved servant…a dispenser if you would, of God’s unending generous blessing upon all creation. We are to be as deeply immersed in the world as Jesus is…called to love and empower it.
I have signed up recently for a daily devotion from Sojourners Magazine called the Verse and Voice. Each day into my inbox comes a Scripture Verse, a short reflection, quote and a prayer. A recent quote was from the late Gwen Ifill:
“Real change comes from the people who make up their minds that if they see something, they will do something.”
The power to heal the world is something Jesus, from the beginning of his ministry on the banks of the Jordon River, intended to share with his followers. When you see something I could imagine Jesus saying…do something…
Don’t expect me to do it for you…
Jesus was not an enabler.
Jesus was an empowerer.
May we remember our own baptism, the vows we took, the promises made to us and the promises we made. May we embrace our belovedness and go out to empower others to embrace there own.
Angela Maddalone is the pastor at Palisades Presbyterian Church in Palisades, NY.