Monday, October 06, 2008

The American Ideal

In church, we've been learning through the book of Mark. This week we were in Mark 10:35-45. It's this passage where two of the disciples come to Jesus and ask if they can sit as his left and right hand in heaven. I missed the message yesterday because I was in the nursery, but we have small groups Sunday night to talk about the message. As we reviewed the passage and our responses to it, God impressed something new upon my heart. Typically when I read this passage, I think about how arrogant the disciples were to think they would get to sit on Jesus' right and left side. Why would they think such a thing, and then be stupid enough to verbalize it? Reading through the text again, Christ makes a reference to the rulers of their time. He points out that those that rule over the gentiles lord it over them and the high officials exercise authority over them.

As we discussed the passage we all automatically criticized the disciples. But, I couldn't help but think that they were somewhat justified in asking what they did. They gave up a lot to follow Christ. They left their families and jobs. They dedicated their lives to following Him and teaching others about Him. They believed He was God's Son and I'm sure from their perspective they thought they were pretty fortunate to be a part of this "inner circle" with God's Son. In their time I think this would've been the natural progression for someone in their position. They loved Christ and wanted to be by His side. The next thing that God laid upon my heart here was this...they expected something like this because of what they were used to seeing. I can't help but think about us, in America. We have this American ideal that our lives are measured by. When part of our lives doesn't line up with the American ideal we feel like something is off. The funny thing is that for the majority of the world there is no "American ideal," there is survival, and so many of the things we (Americans) care and worry about would fall away if our basic needs weren't being met (including the luxury of safety). Two of the areas I was really convicted in were: Hewitt (the obvious one) Having a sick child does not line up with the American ideal. Homeschooling was the other one. I have so many great memories from childhood that stem from traditions or "normal" American things to do. This was one of them. At the beginning of the school year I was really struggling with not sending my kids off and letting them have that experience of going to school. I have had to remind myself that God laid this on my heart for a reason. That homeschooling fits our lives and our children better this year, and that's okay.

I could probably think of a hundred things in my life that I measure by the "American ideal" and not by the Bible or the fact that God created me as an individual person and an individual path apart from the expectations my culture puts on me. I love that Jesus doesn't rebuke the disciples in this passage when they ask. He points out to them that they are going to be different kinds of leaders. That they are going to be counter cultural. He says, "whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." This is so beautiful. Christ was so radical in His time. The secret rebel in me loves these passages that point out how radical He was. He was telling the disciples to go against their culture and serve people, not to put themselves first. I think today this is still counter cultural. I guess I will be asking myself this week, by what will I measure my life and my experiences by? It's funny, it actually seems easier to not measure it by the American ideal right now because there are a lot of things in my life that don't measure up!

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