Do I measure Things Like Jesus?

A Snippet From The Good Preacher Robert Arbogast’s Sunday Sermon!

Mark 12:38-44 (The Widow’s Mite)

It was festival week in Jerusalem. Large crowds of pilgrims had gathered, coming from near and far. Jesus and his disciples,fresh from Galilee, were among them.

I wonder what would happen if we measured things and if we measured people, including
ourselves, the way Jesus does. I’m guessing that we would be far less impressed with the rich and the famous than we are now. And isn’t it high time that we stopped listening to them and to their publicists, totheir constant reminders to us of how important they are, what with their academic credentials? Or with their financial credentials? Or with their political credentials? Or with their white teeth, clear skin, and big boobs credentials? We don’t seriously think any of that impresses Jesus, do we? And he’s probably not as impressed with us as we are either.

In the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, young Greg Heffley is pretty impressed with himself. He thinks he’s one of the cleverest, kindest, sanest people around. But he’s a bit generous in that self-evaluation. I wonder how much of Greg Heffley is in me. Am I as generous as I think I am? Am I as thoughtful, am I as devoted, as I think I am? Am I even remotely aware of how little the Gospel has shaped my values? Aware that I have had a thousand teachers, each with their own
agenda? Aware that I am better at dropping Jesus’ name than at dropping everything to follow him?

But what would happen if we started to pay attention to people, like Jesus watching the people at the Temple treasury? What would we see if we dared to look a little deeper than the outward action? What would we see if we dared to look closely to discern the heart? Who would impress us then, especially if we tried to see the way Jesus sees? Would we be impressed by the person with the most money? By the woman with the longest legs? By the man with the fastest time in the 100? Or would we be impressed by the young man with multiple handicaps, sitting in his wheelchair, taking our tickets at the movies? Or by the illegal immigrant from Mexico who juggles three jobs to take care of her children? Or by the overworked, underpaid social worker who just won’t give up on kids?

And what would happen if we wanted somehow to impress Jesus ourselves? It’s probably too late for this year, but Jan and I were talking about this the other day. What if we decided to host a Thanksgiving dinner here, a dinner for people who have nowhere to go or nothing to eat, certainly not a feast, on Thanksgiving Day, a dinner not at some less-than-optimal time, but at prime Thanksgiving dinner time, so that our Thanksgiving Day is all about our neighbors who need a feast, and if we want a feast, we can eat with them, and if we want a family feast we can do it on the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving Day? What if we decided that that was a good way to use this building and a good way to use our money and our time and our love? Of course, to get there, to get anywhere near any of this, we would have to change the way we measure things and change the way we measure people, including ourselves. And that’s no easy thing to do. It’s like trying to adopt the metric system.

But change the way you measure things, and you change the way you see the world. And the Gospel has everything to do with that.

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