Loving People

I have said for years, and I should never say this – yet I still do – Church would be great except for the people. And I am one of those people. You probably know, or can imagine, what sort of people I’m referring to. They are annoying in some way. They follow the pastor around incessantly asking questions, or worse, making suggestions. They have opinions about everything, whether they know anything about the topic or situation or not. They complain about almost everything, although most often about people who annoy them at church.

Yes, these are the “hypocrites” of which those who criticize the church from the outside seem to know so well. Rather than explore the strange irony of that, I want to show something I found very encouraging in Scripture which shows Jesus’ perspective on “those annoying church people”. First, the setting, Jesus leads His disciples away to rest…

The apostles *gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. And He *said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves.
Mark 6:30-32 NASB

The apostles had just come from their first “missionary journey” to the villages of Judah. They had cast out demons, healed the sick, and preached the Kingdom of God to the people. And, when they returned, a bunch of people either came with them to see Jesus, or were already swarming around Him while they were gone. Either way, it’s pandemonium around them. So, Jesus leads them to a quiet place to rest and rejuvenate. Only, it doesn’t work…

The people saw them going, and many recognized them and ran there together on foot from all the cities, and got there ahead of them. When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.
Mark 6:33-34 NASB

These people are geniuses. They see the boat leaving, figure out where it’s going, and get there first on foot. And not just those around Jesus when He leaves, but “…from all the cities” they gather together ahead of them. That’s a spectacular failure to find rest. Now the pandemonium not only continues, it worsens. They weren’t able to eat before, now what is it like? Don’t you hate it when people do that, interrupt your plans, hijack your vacation, invade your “sanctum”? So annoying! And yet, Jesus looks at them with compassion. 

I confess, I’m not there yet. I like my “space”, I like having that “cushion” around me, this is definitely an “area of growth” for me. I’m not like Jesus in this respect, and need to submit my desires for “space”, for individuality, for safety, for “my right to rest” to my Savior. Because He looked at them with compassion, because He saw they were like sheep without a shepherd. They had no idea who they were, where they were going, and what they were supposed to do (who else heard Yoda’s voice when they read that?). I’m like them, and I need to be like Him.

I believe we can be like Jesus in this regard. It won’t be easy, it will be very counter-culture, counter pop-psychology, counter conventional wisdom, and counter to a lot of other stuff we take for granted. It means taking Philippians 2:1-11 seriously and applying those verses rigorously to our decision-making, attitudes, and priorities. I admit, I’m not a fan, I’m not looking forward to it, dying to self is dying, don’t think it’s easy or happy. But it is joyous, it is peaceful, it is freeing in ways I am looking forward to. For when I die to myself, I rise to live within my Savior, and walk within His Spirit.

So, let them come, let them steal my attention, derail my plans, invade my space, and interrupt my rest. It’s not just okay, it’s a joy and a privilege. It’s a messy relational Kingdom, my Father’s Kingdom. So, how can I help you?


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