I hope no one left yesterday’s service trying to sort through whether she is a John the Baptizer-type or a Jesus-type. That would be too simplistic. As I suggest about us being part-Mary and part-Martha (Luke 10:38-42), I think we’re at times in step with John’s approach to the world and at times in step with Jesus’ (Matthew 11:16-19) - and too often out of step with both.
About some matters we want strict and stern. About others we want looser interpretations. It comes down to our personal preferences/ideologies about what is good and what is bad and what is worth the effort and what is not.
We all do it and for good reason. I’m sure John and Jesus did it, too. John had to have had some lighter momentsin his life, some matters he deemed of lesser importance. He couldn’t sustain faith or prophetic ministry (and he’d have a stroke) if all he did was preach about our need for repentance (although he certainly built a reputation for asceticism). Jesus, we know from scripture, had times that were stern and plenty of times of mercy and compassion, especially for the “sinners” he encountered. I have no doubt whatsoever that he laughed plenty and, while taking life seriously, held life lightly.
In no way did I want anyone leaving thinking I’m supposed to be one “type” of Christian. I did want us thinking about how to be faithful Christians: how to grieve for what grieves God’s heart and celebrate what cheers God’s heart, how to lament and work against brokenness, reduce our contributions to the sin of the world, and, as Art Justice prayed so eloquently, “dance to the rhythm of God’s grace.”
Let that image dance around in your mind today. How, today, will you dance to the rhythm of God’s grace?