Limitations

I want to share two good pieces of inspiration that came my way this morning.

            Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
             “I tell you,” he replied,
“if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
            As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. —
Luke19:39-42
 

I make this definite practical proposal: believe in your city.
            What else? In Jesus Christ.
            What about him? That he wants to make your city better; that that is what he would be doing if he lived there.
            What else? Believe in yourself; that you, even you, can do some of the work which he would like done, and that unless you do it, it will remain undone.
            How are you to begin? As Christ did– First he looked at the city; then he wept over it; then he died for it. –
Northumbria Community 

I think we are looking over our city, here in Philadelphia, a bit like Jesus looked over Jerusalem. And Circle of Hope has been taking and giving advice like the Northumbria Community gives for over a decade now. We are trying to make a difference and we are making a difference.

This is just a little note of encouragement for those who are tired and those who are daunted, for those who see how big the task is and especially for those who resent how the response to the needs just keeps rolling whether they resent that or not. You are not alone. For one thing, Jesus is looking with you. For another, you are part of a team. Jesus is in us and we are in him.

We have been trying to get better and act as big as we are this year. We are succeeding and failing. As we do that,  people are getting new responsibilities that require them to get better and act on a bigger playing field. One of the things we all have to learn is that if we don’t cry out, the stones will have to do it – the re-creation is going to happen whether we want to be a part of it, or not. If you want to control everything according to your worn-out views, like the Pharisees did, that doesn’t mean that Jesus is going to stop the parade until you are convinced. Likewise, if you don’t weep over the city and do your part, someone else will be found who will. If you are going to “get to it later,” or you “can’t do it right now” for some reason, that doesn’t mean Jesus’ heart is similarly preoccupied. It doesn’t automatically mean you are rotten, but it does mean your limitations are not in charge.

We seem to have been infected by a strange application of the “me centered” worldview that’s been shoved down our throats. If the task I have been given is too much for me, it will have to wait until I am not so limited. If I can’t do it now, everything will have to slow down until I can get to it. It is all about me – even when what I am talking about is about the church or our common mission (a defintie “us”)! Let me state the two obvious flaws in that thinking: 1) Jesus is with us to do more than we ask or imagine. It is really all about him. We fill the world with resentment if how we see things is that we are always being asked to go beyond our limitations. We fill it with joy if we trust Jesus to use us in spite of our limitations and offer what little we have for him to multiply. 2) We are part of a team whose sum is so much greater than its parts. The work is never just about me. I am constrained to share it as a matter of instinct, now. We fill the world with conflict if we look for personal power and are judged by individual accomplishment of what is “my job.” We fill it with generative possibilities when we share – especially share the many things we are incapable of doing alone.

Resentment and conflict are often good guides to growth. When we feel so and act such, we may have gotten crammed back into a me-centered box, or at least we need to break out of our latest limited view of life. Just one look at the city the way Jesus sees it will often break us out. Surrendering to being part of the body and not just being alone (waiting for our views to be affirmed or our needs to be met) will certainly expand our self-destructive boundaries.

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2 Responses to Limitations

  1. kim tomlinson hebert says:

    good message Rod.. I have the same challenges just within my home and family. appreciate the work you do for your city..

  2. Jonny Rashid says:

    I really appreciate this reminder. I am so often reminded of my own limitations. I often burden myself with many of the problems that I see around me. And i often fall short of the arbitrary expectations I’ve pressured myself to measure up to. With that said, I really appreciate being reminded that Jesus is doing this with me, that I can keep moving forward, and when I fail, he’s there, too. I’m so thankful to be surrounded by loving people and a loving community, whose sum IS greater than its parts. Thanks again, Rod.

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