Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” Mark 10:35-37
Following Jesus is not for personal gain. Sure, this seems obvious. On a deeper level, though, it’s a good reminder for me.
Because I have to admit that I want to look good, and Christian stuff — doing things for others, being loving and loving, etc — these all make me look good. I can be wise. I can have the answers. I can be respected.
Ugh! How ugly it is that I would want glory for MYSELF through following Christ! I relate to Simon the sorcerer only too well. “When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability. . . “ (Acts 8:18-19a) He too wanted to follow Jesus for personal gain.
I have to learn to be okay with messing up, to accept that I am just a fallible person, so I’m not needy for glory.
A couple of weeks ago Ken and I got with a young married couple. They shared about an incident, a series of mistakes they made in how they treated one another at a party. As they told the story, they started laughing at how foolish they’d been. That led Ken to share a similar story about us. Did I laugh at my foolishness as he related what happened? No, I got hurt and mad.
Can I learn to laugh at myself more, laugh at my failures?
Can I be more like Paul in II Cor 12:10? “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Can I actually delight in weaknesses, even thank God for them?
Jesus said in this II Cor. passage, “My grace is all you need.” I’ve got to get this through my head! God’s grace is THE ONLY THING I NEED. I don’t need to get my security from looking good. I need to get it from him.
Going on with today’s reading from Mark 10 —
“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”
God’s not interested in giving me personal glory I crave. Nope, instead, he gives me the cup of trials.
And what have I been in my trials? A ball of irritability, thinking grumpy negative thoughts, wanting to smash something.
So it was perfectly appropriate that Carol shared with me last night this passage from “Jesus Calling,” by Sarah Young —
“THANK ME for the very things that are troubling you. You are on the brink of rebellion, precariously close to shaking your fist in My Face. You are tempted to indulge in just a little complaining about My treatment of you. But once you step over that line, torrents of rage and self-pity can sweep you away. The best protection against this indulgence is thanksgiving. It is impossible to thank Me and curse Me at the same time. Thanking Me for trials will feel awkward and contrived at first. But if you persist, your thankful words, prayed in faith, will eventually make a difference in your heart.”
I not only need to “find pleasure” in my weaknesses, I need to thank God and find joy in my trials.
Fooey! I don’t like to remember James 1 —
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
You know, in church for the past few weeks, we’ve been studying out discipling relationships. The conclusion I’ve come to is that we are to help Christ to be formed in one another. (Gal 4:19, Matt 28:18-20)
And I am realizing more and more that the only way Christ will be formed is through humility.
I humble myself. I admit I’m weak. I admit I don’t know how to do it.
He lifts me up and makes me what I need to be.
I don’t, I CAN’T, seek glory for myself.
Only He can give it to me.
Then it’s all grace. And that grace meets my every need.