Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Good and The Best

Wednesday: 5 September, 2012 –– 22nd Week in Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 3:1–9 / Luke 4: 38–44
The Good and The Best

It's early in his ministry and it seems that Jesus is already finding his groove. He healed Simon’s mother-in-law. Then many other sick people came. He cured them so that crowds were seeking him out and begging him to stay. Two significant things are happening: First, Jesus is able to extend the love of God in a tangible way. Second, he is receiving popularity and acceptance.  These seem to be the two very things that an up and coming messiah need to succeed.

What does Jesus do? He declines the offer! I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also.... for I was sent for this purpose. It has been said that “good” is often the enemy of the “best” and here we see Jesus not being deflected from his ultimate purpose.

The same construct can be applied to what Paul tells the Corinthians. The believers at Corinth probably thought they were being good Christians. They were proudly tracing their brief spiritual ancestry back to Paul or Apollos. Yet Paul needed to rebuke and correct them. In their zeal, they were acting with jealousy and rivalry –– not the Spirit of Jesus –– so much so that Paul says they are not even acting like Christians! While it was “good” that they had received baptism and counted themselves as new Christians, they were such spiritual infants that they could not perceive the “best” –– living as truly spiritual people and able to handle solid spiritual food.

It is human nature to think anything we do for God is “great” and that whatever we do is “good” enough. Paul gives a reminder that we are called to God’s purposes. The Christian life is not a one-man show. Our relationship with God is not meant to be “just me and Jesus.”

Jesus did not live for himself. His mighty words and mighty deeds always flowed out of the Father’s purpose and were given in the character and power of the Holy Spirit.

We each have a role to play in the life of the Church. But it’s not about us; instead we are invited to be part of the great thing God is doing through Jesus Christ. Let’s not try to follow him like the immature Corinthians, who thought their respective baptisms made them more than good enough. Our example is Jesus, who would not allow the good to deflect him from the best of what he was sent to do.

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