I woke up this morning with a slight melancholic disposition. It might have been a depressing dream that I can’t remember, too much sugar in my diet yesterday, or more likely my team’s frustrating loss last night. Whatever it was, I couldn’t quite fling my mind off of its negative loop.
I felt like my life and accomplishments have been inconsequential and my legacy thin. God’s work in and through me felt paltry. If there is an omnipotent Creator and his Son died and rose again to save the world, then whey isn’t it more noticeable? Speaking of legacy, why does his seem so unimpressive and my efforts to point it out seem so trivial? Why is his kingdom not more evident and our attempt to advance it here on earth so glacially slow? If you’ve never felt this way or asked such questions, you should probably stop reading this and go on to something else. Otherwise, maybe you’ll pick something up here that will help you through similar soul-dampening mornings.
I dragged myself out of bed and got to the coffee shop, hoping caffeine would remedy my doldrums. I pulled out my Bible and continued my reading through Mark’s Gospel. What caught my attention today were the many times Jesus told people not to tell others about him. “Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone.” Knowing that we’re supposed to spread the good news about him, his insistence to keep it quiet is counterintuitive to me.
I mused further about how there were some who intended to try to make him “king by force” (John 6:15) and how he didn’t come to be king that day or in that way. The way his kingship works in this era is much more subtly from the inside out. He didn’t come here so he could have fans, but followers – not admirers, but disciples. He seems to have made every effort to contain the span of his ministry on earth.
I’m a San Francisco Giants fan, and like I said, it bummed me out a little that they lost an important game last night. Every year I root for them to beat the opposition, amaze the pundits, and eventually win the World Series. I’m a fan, but I’m no fan of Jesus. I don’t like him or root for him – I love him and I worship him. I don’t hope he’ll come in first, I know he will – eventually. He doesn’t entertain me – he captivates me. He’s my only Savior, not my favorite player. Baseball (among other such things) is to me a great diversion from living too soberly. But Jesus is no diversion; gives me definition.
To some degree my daily mood during the six-month baseball season rises and falls with my Giants’ performance. I strain for it to be otherwise, and only succeed with a smidgen of success. Hard to watch other teams win, and I confess that there have been times when I’ve actually tried to defect to another team, to root for someone who won’t disappoint me so much. When my team is not dazzling me with wins, I’ve temporarily forced myself to cheer for someone who will. Since I don’t recognize the players, don’t like their uniforms, and realize that they’ll also eventually disappoint me, my defection only lasts a game or two, and I come home to my Giants.
Back to Jesus – his way is not to impress, but impact us with stealthy, undercover work in souls. He scouts not for fans, but followers, frail, but devoted teammates. It’s not often the brightest and the best that he chooses. He doesn’t typically surround himself with superstars, not because their talent would overshadow his, but because those players want to be captains of their own teams. Those who want to stand out are not the type to join him, and year after year there’s only one MVP on the Jesus team.
The rest of us small-talent, no-name players follow his lead and play our best for his pleasure. We commit more than our share of errors and he routinely picks us up by his own stellar play. At times it appears that we’re earth’s sorriest losers, yet we know that the season’s in the bag. His victory is so subtle and inauspicious that it requires special eyesight to perceive it. Throughout the long season his record belies an ultimate triumph and sometimes it feels like we’re playing for a losing team. I myself have wondered if I’ve made a mistake by choosing him over others with more apparent potential and outward attraction. Our place in the standings seems irreversibly dismal at times, but when we’re convinced of our destiny as his co-champions we’ll endure the so-called, “dog days of summer.” It’s a long season, but I tell myself that it is only a season. Having reminded myself of these things, I feel better already.